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 story “Lord Conqueror of the Realm”. I strongly recommend you read it first because in this story there are references to events that took place in “Lord Conqueror of the Realm.” Here is where you can find it:
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!
On their way back to the village center, at the Conqueror's request, Queen Gabrielle recounted in great detail, all about what had taken place in the steam hut with Molpadia's outrageous behavior.
"And Athena was there with you?" the Conqueror asked.
"She was, my Lord," the Queen answered, "which amplified my shame." She then wore a pensive expression and curiously remarked, "I was too affronted and embarrassed to notice it at the time, but when I consider it now… How odd it is that she didn't exact austere reprisal. That is so unlike her."
The Conqueror's features remained sealed, but it was the lack of response that spoke volumes to the Queen.
"She really irked you, didn't she?" the Conqueror finally commented.
“Would you think me wicked if I told you that at some point I stooped as low as to hope that she had been the one behind the killings?"
The Conqueror burst into laughter. "She definitely brought it upon herself, my love."
"Your answer does not constitute a denial, my Lord," the Queen teased. "What is worse, Amazon tradition dictates that since she was Queen Melosa's second in command, now she should be mine."
"You are Queen. You must do as you wish. A leader's second in command is an office which should be granted based upon trust."
"Removing her from her position might be construed as vindictive," the Queen argued.
The Conqueror looked at her wife as if she couldn't see anything wrong with it. She then wondered what their future would look like together now that her wife was Queen of the Amazons. Her beloved Queen seemed so happy at that moment that the Conqueror didn't have the heart to damage that happiness, and decided against raising this issue.
The Royal couple brought the venison to the village center, where they met Athena.
“Majesties,” she bowed before them.
“Your Grace,” they greeted her back as the Conqueror unloaded the stag and two Amazons took it off her hands to prepare for supper.
Athena took one look at her parents, and their damp tresses, their tranquil demeanors and how closely they stood next to one another, and she knew in an instant that they had reconciled, and that the steam hut had been occupied on account of them using it and she couldn't have been happier, and apparently indebted to Antiope of all people.
"My Lady," the Conqueror addressed her Queen, "I wish to have a few words with her Grace," she spoke gently.
The Queen gave a brief squeeze to her Lord's arm. "Of course, my Lord. I shall wait for you at the table," she said and left to join the others.
The Conqueror and the Princess regarded each other intensely for a few long moments.
"You have been a great service and comfort to her Majesty the Queen whilst I was away. You have performed your duties responsibly and in the most commendable of manners," the Conqueror said.
That was not what the young Princess expected. She expected to be berated for the disgraceful behavior she exhibited when she had visited with the Conqueror in Corinth . She lowered her eyes. "I humbly thank your Majesty for the generous praises and I wish to convey my deepest apologies to your Majesty. When I was in Corinth , I conducted myself reprehensibly and with all my heart I beg your forgiveness."
"Indeed, when you came to visit me in Corinth , you spoke to me in a manner that was outrageously disrespectful and insufferable. Granted, you thought you were shielding her Majesty the Queen and acted with accordance to what you thought was right and just. Nevertheless, I shan't brook such insolence, least of all from my own flesh and blood," the Conqueror chided.
"I vow before your Majesty that it will never happen again. The insults I unduly spoke stemmed out of anger and I wish to assure your Majesty that I didn't mean them. I owe all that I am to you, Majesty, and above all I owe you reverence and awe. Her Majesty the Queen has already shown me the error of ways."
"Did she?!" the Conqueror asked and inwardly she was moved and pleased. "And what did she say?"
"That I should speak my mind even when it contradicts your Majesty's opinion, however I must always do so with utmost respect towards your Majesty, for your Majesty is our Sovereign Lord, and head of this family," Princess Athena replied.
The Conqueror placed her hand over her daughter's shoulder. "Your mother is the most magnificent, most glorious woman that ever lived," she said and her eyes shimmered. "I have no life without her."
Princess Athena nodded in agreement. It was marvelous to see the glowing warmth of love about her Sire again upon mentioning the Queen. "Am I forgiven then, Majesty?"
"You are," the Conqueror rapped on her daughter's shoulder affectionately. "I hereby relieve you of your duties. It is my desire to seize the privilege of guarding my Queen. You are free to hunt as many Amazons as you please," she smiled mischievously.
"As your Majesty commands," Athena bowed her head, "But before I go, may I ask, Majesty, what was the meaning of your order to me regarding not meddling in her Majesty the Queen's private affairs?” she asked. She didn't know what was the source of the division between her parents but she knew it wasn't her place to ask and for her to know.
"At the time I believed your mother had a choice to make. I wished to afford her the opportunity to follow her heart and the freedom to choose without any intervention or influence," the Conqueror replied thoughtfully as they made their way to join the Queen.
When the deer meat above the fire was ready and amply basted with fresh aromatic stock, they all sat to dine together. The Conqueror and the Queen sat at the head of the Amazon council's table, along with Princess Athena to the Conqueror's left. At the other end of the long table sat the Shamaness and her apprentice. Before the council's table, table upon table was set with the rest of the tribe around them.
Cheerful chatter could be heard around the dining tables, with many conversations pertaining to the day's events circling around like buzzing bees. The threat had been lifted and the guilty parties had been apprehended. Peaceful living and mirth could resume unimpeded.
"I trust you'll be pleased to be sleeping in your own hut again, your Grace," the Queen said and poured herself a cup of water.
"I shan't be sleeping anywhere near your Majesties' hut tonight," the young Princess smirked quietly beneath her hand covering her mouth.
Soon after the meat was carved, the ever-serviceable Molpadia approached the council's table with a large tray loaded with the finest of cuts and walked over to the head of the table where the Conqueror dined with her Queen.
The Queen's second in command bowed deeply before the Conqueror, displaying as much of her cleavage as possible to the Conqueror's eyes. "Another fine piece of meat, my Lord?" she offered suggestively and there was no denying her intent.
The Conqueror kept her mouth barred. She knew with absolute certainty that her Queen would render her reply momentarily and she could hardly wait to hear it. From the corner of her eye she saw Princess Athena's grip over her knife tighten. She placed a quick hand over the Princess' knee beneath the table, signaling her to hold her tongue.
Queen Gabrielle raised her eyes from her plate and beheld Molpadia with glaring eyes that nearly made Molpadia's heart stop. She laid down her knife and demonstratively put a possessive hand over the Conqueror's shoulder, then spoke loudly so that her voice could be heard over all other conversations. “My Lord's body is mine; my Lord's heart is mine. My Lord is mine, and I ferociously protect what's mine!” There was unmistakable menace and warning in her tone of voice.
As soon as Queen Gabrielle spoke, all chatter ceased immediately, and all eyes were averted to the head of the council's table. What amazed their audience wasn't just their Queen's assertiveness as opposed to her lack of response in the past to this type of provocation, but her statement that her Lord's heart had been hers as well.
Molpadia was discomfited and humiliated beyond words and prayed that the earth would open its mouth and swallow her whole where she stood.
At the other far end of the table, the Shamaness whispered to her apprentice, “The Lioness has finally roared.”
But the Queen was far from finished with Molpadina. “Never address my Lord by that moniker ever again and tonight it is my pleasure that you should reside in the adjacent hut to ours.”
Some of their audience snickered knowingly while Molpadia's face changed colors, first into red and then into white. She laid down the tray atop the table and commenced a walk of shame towards the hut, which had previously been occupied by Princess Athena.
A toothy gloating smile appeared on Athena's face, as her scorning eyes accompanied Molpadia's as she walked.
To the further astonishment of all present, the Conqueror took the Queen's hand that rested on her shoulder, brought it to her lips and landed a passionate kiss to her palm. “I desire to be alone with you," the Conqueror drolly whispered and to emphasize how urgent her need was she added the word, "Now!"
And as the Queen was chuckling, she whispered back in her Lord's ear, "It is our duty to dine with our subjects, especially after all that happened today, my Lord."
"No such duty exists, my Lady. We are Lord and Queen. A fact which entitles us to do as we desire," the Conqueror argued.
"Then how like you this as a reason," the Queen suggested another rationale, "You need to eat well and replenish your strength, for it is my mission to exhaust you tonight. Trust me when I tell you, my Lord, that you shall require all the help you can get."
Jaunty, the Conqueror loaded her plate with meat, till it nearly overran. "As for having Molpadia reside next to our hut tonight… My Lady, you do have a wicked mind," she tantalized in humor.
“And the body to match,” the Queen guaranteed with a wily glee in her eyes.
When supper ended, all Amazons remained seated at the bequest of their Queen. Mysia and a few Amazon warriors escorted the prisoners, Thiba and her two younger sisters, to stand before their Queen.
The Queen rose to her feet and signaled to the Amazons that she requested silence with a wave of her hand.
"My sisters, I am ready to render my verdict in regards to these prisoners for the brutal and treacherous crimes they've committed against our nation and against the Realm. First, however, I wish to extend our profound gratitude to our honorable Sovereign Lord, who in her infinite charity and justness granted me consent and allowance to decide the offenders' penalty and for the great mercy she showed us."
"All hail the Lord Conqueror!" exclaimed Antiope and in response, the Amazons repeated, "Hail to the Lord Conqueror!"
The Queen turned to address the condemned, "You spilled the blood of your sisters. Your actions deprived our nation of Queen Melosa and Princess Terreis. But what makes your actions even more depraved is your motivation and purpose, which were to murder your Sovereign Lord and Queen. You were willing to sacrifice the lives of your sisters out of some unfounded notion that your Sovereign Lord had wronged you and yours in the past."
Thiba and her sisters did not lower their heads and exhibited neither shame nor remorse. They simply stood there, with blank expressions and their dead eyes. They didn't seem perturbed but rather as though they hadn't a care in the world.
The Queen turned to address her subjects again. "Slaying nine innocent women in furtherance of a conspiracy to avenge some baseless concept of wrongdoing warrants a sentence of death. However, given the misfortunate, miserable circumstances of their lives after their family's demise, I wish to show them mercy as our Sovereign Lord has shown us. Therefore, it is my pleasure that their sentence shall be commuted and that they should spend the rest of their lives behind bars. I urge you all, my sisters, to accept and honor my ruling and not demand their blood."
One by one, the Amazons stood up, thus informing their Queen that they indeed accepted and honored her ruling, till none were left seated.
"Very well, my sisters. In order to uphold and execute the sentence, it is our Sovereign Lord's demand that you shall all swear an oath that nothing of the events that have taken place here would ever leave your lips or breech outside these borders."
"We do so swear, our Queen," they all said.
The prisoners were returned to the confinement of their cells. Little by little, the Amazons bade the Royal family goodnight and retired to their huts.
Princess Athena, whose eye caught sight of the Shamaness' apprentice as she was about to leave the table as well, preceded to apply her charm and seductive skills to the object of her desire.
The Royal couple got off the table. The Conqueror snaked her arm around the Queen's waist as they leisurely sauntered outside, as if they were on the sandy beaches of Thira with all its freedoms, and there wasn't anyone happier than the Queen.
"I trust matters between you and Athena are resolved, my Lord," the Queen said and leaned her head against her Lord as they strolled.
"They are, my Lady. She has apologized and I forgave her, her infractions," the Conqueror replied.
"I thank you, my Lion, for being generous with your pardon," the Queen said and planted a kiss beneath her Lord's collarbone.
"You should have seen how she stood before me, stalwart and unwavering when she visited with me in Corinth . I don't think I ever saw such display of bravery and fearless determination," the Conqueror admitted and her chest widened with pride.
"You could tell she would grow up to be as brave as you, my Lord, ever since she was but a wee child," the Queen smiled with the awesome love she had for her only child. "Do you remember, my Lord, when you took her riding with the Imperial Guard when she was a child? As you walked over to mount your stallion, Athena, barely three years old, sat atop your shoulders so high above the ground without a speck of fear in her. With her tiny hands, she held on to you and played with your crown, do you remember, my Lord? You didn't have to secure her to you. She was strong and bold enough to hold on to you by herself."
The Conqueror smiled at the fond memory her wife brought up.
"Her fierce stance before me was something to behold, I tell you. I reckon she knew I wouldn't kill her, but there are worse things I can do than killing, and yet she stared me in the eye and spoke her mind, however disrespectfully. She stood up for what she believed in out of love for you, and although I was enraged beyond measure, to put it mildly, I was also proud of her like never before."
The Queen's eyes welled up with tears and she pressed herself against the Conqueror's protective embrace even harder.
"It was then for the first time I truly felt certain that when it is time for her to inherit my throne, she will make an extraordinary ruler, perhaps even better than I; for where I strike awe, admiration and fear in our subjects, she will also strike adoration and love in them," the Conqueror said sincerely and tightened her grip around her beloved Queen.
"Our subjects love and adore you as well, my Lord. They are simply too timid to exhibit it for your benefit," the Queen said with utter conviction.
The Conqueror looked down and beheld her Queen with an affectionate smile adorning her lips. "Any love they bear me is attributed to you, my love, and has nothing to do with me."
The Queen chuckled. "I'm sure my contribution is smaller than you claim, my Lion," she said and halted halfway to their hut. "With your approval, I have a few minor matters that I wish to attend to before retiring."
"Anything I can assist you with?" the Conqueror inquired with a raise of her brow.
"No, my Lord," she answered and delivered a quick kiss to her Lord's jaw, "I shan't be detained long."
"Very well, my precious Gabrielle," the Conqueror said. Reluctantly parting with her wife, she walked towards their hut while the Queen walked over to where Thiba and her sisters were detained.
As she walked into the small prison, which was the only structure made of stone, Queen Gabrielle requested from the guards minding the prisoners, for some privacy. On the ground near the bars, she saw half eaten plates served on a wooden platter without a knife to cut food.
At first glance, the cells seemed empty, but on closer look, Queen Gabrielle discerned the younger sisters lying on the pallet with their backs turned facing the bars. They seemed to be sleeping. The Queen's eyes searched for Thiba amidst the darkness in her cells.
"Did you come here to gloat?" Queen Gabrielle heard Thiba's familiar voice and a few moments later she noticed a movement at the far back and bleak corner of the cell.
Thiba stood up, advancing forward towards the iron bars that incarcerated her till she finally stood in plain view before the Queen. Her spirit didn't seem to be broken and she didn't appear defeated as one might assume she would.
"There is no delight or pleasure in my heart for your downfall, only profound sadness and regret," said the Queen sincerely.
From between the bars, Thiba's scorning eyes regarded the Queen. "As there should be, for had it not been for you none of this would have happened," the hateful prisoner taunted her.
For a fraction of a moment eaten by guilt, Queen Gabrielle lowered her eyes; a gesture that was not lost on Thiba. "I hoped I would be more successful in reaching you and assisting you out of the darkness you are in."
Thiba scoffed. "You arrogant bitch!" she muttered. "Just who do you think you are?"
"I am your ruler and the one to whom you owe your life, for if my Lord were to decide your fate, then your days and your sisters' would have been numbered," answered the Queen.
"Do not think I owe you anything. You are no more than the filthy whore who defiled my mother's bed, nothing more."
"You truly ought to stop lying to yourself, Thiba. As a former body slave, I'm sure you know I had no say in the matter and that it was your father who defiled your mother's bed as he forced me on it."
Thiba rolled her eyes in her head. "As for your precious Lord… I suppose you believe everything she said…"
"I trust my Lord and so I needn't any proof in order to believe her words. However, you don't, so consider this - My Lord's power is supreme and so my Lord needn't any pretexts or excuses for her actions. My Lord's might is all the justification my Lord requires, therefore lying is redundant. My Lord could've just as easily admitted to your charges and wouldn't have suffered anything for it. If she took the trouble of denying your accusations, trust it was all true."
Thiba clasped the cold iron bars and brought her face closer to them. "Tell me something for I must know… Unlike the Conqueror, my father never brutalized you and never disfigured you. Convince me of your pure motives, then. What made the Conqueror so much better than my father?"
"I owe you nothing, least of all an explanation. Nevertheless, since I decreed that you should spend the rest of your life in here, I shall indulge you if truly you must know, for it is the least I can do for you now," the Queen replied and gathered her thoughts. "One former body slave to another," she began to say and drew a hefty intake of breath. "Unlike in your father's service, in my Lord's service, in my Lord's bed I never felt humiliated."
Thiba's expression was one of disbelief, then raging hatred.
The Queen continued, “In my Lord's service, I never had to ask permission to eat, or to bathe, sleep, relieve myself. My Lord kept me well fed and well dressed. I was free to speak with others in her household, I was granted free access to the library so that I could read and study. I was allowed to apprentice the chief healer and pursue my interests. And in bed, my Lord had me submit to her power and dominance, but my Lord never resorted to degradation."
“Even when she branded her mark into your flesh?” Thiba opposed.
“Not even then,” the Queen replied without a moment's hesitation. “My Lord is power and commands it without the need to humiliate the powerless, unlike your father. In service to your father, I was never within his reach. In service to my Lord I was never outside of hers.”
Before the Queen left, she said, “I forgive your betrayal against me and I hope you and your sisters will one day find peace.”
The Queen had one last stop to make before this long eventful day could finally be over, and the night with all the sweet promises it held could begin with her loving Lord who was patiently and longingly waiting for her in their hut.
She knocked on the Shamaness' door and soon after heard the Shamaness' invitation to enter. When the Queen stepped inside she saw two cups of hot tea standing on the table as though the Shamaness had foreseen her visit beforehand.
"Just in time," the Shamaness clapped her hands together. "Your tea is getting cold, my Queen," she pointed out and sat at the table.
Queen Gabrielle smiled in kind and sat opposite the older woman, "I see my visit was expected."
The Shamaness enveloped the hot cup with her palms for warmth. She pushed a bowl with dried dates towards the Queen and welcomed her to help herself to them.
"Thank you," the Queen said as she took the sweet viscid fruit and placed it between her teeth.
"By the look of things it would seem that you and the Lord Conqueror overcame your differences and matters between the two of you have been settled," the Shamaness commented.
The Queen's face radiated with happiness. "Indeed," she confirmed. "I wanted to extend my deepest gratitude to you. You have been a tremendous help and comfort to me throughout these difficult times and I shall cherish your guidance always."
"It was my pleasure and privilege. Our nation has been blessed with an extraordinary queen."
"You are most kind."
"At the council's table this evening I could see a grand change not just in you but in both of you and what is between you," the Shamaness stated knowingly and took a sip from her cup.
"A change for the better, I hope," said the Queen as she looked across the table and regarded the Shamaness.
"A strong Queen is paramount to the insurance of our tribe's survival, so your newfound strength is vital, I'd say."
"And the other changes you spoke of?"
"I believe that the Lord Conqueror's revealing her great love for you for all to witness would make your life wholesome and happier than ever before. As for the Conqueror's love for you in itself, you are already aware of my grave concerns."
Queen Gabrielle considered the Shamaness' reply and she couldn't help feeling disappointment.
"By not shooting the arrows and thus ordering her forces to destroy our nation and by relinquishing her judgment of chastisement over to me, my Lord proved today that she was capable of…" but the Queen's voice trailed off mid-sentence.
"It wasn't mercy , " the Shamaness stated, not affording the Queen any illusion. Like all others in the tribe, she had heard Queen Gabrielle's speech about the mercy shown to them by the Conqueror earlier that day.
Queen Gabrielle fixated her pensive gaze on the hypnotizing spiraling steams emanating from the cup in front of her. “You are right," she said in resignation, "It wasn't mercy.”
“I speak to you as your true friend without the barriers of our stations so please forgive me for the liberties I take in speaking my mind truthfully and with candor. The Conqueror has no mercy in her.”
The words were hard to absorb. Queen Gabrielle wasn't sure whether the Shamaness was more right than wrong. Either way, lines of pain grooved her forehead.
“No one knows my Lord better than I do, and you are wrong. My Lord is capable of mercy, only her capacity for mercy is more discriminatory and reserved.”
The Shamaness placed her hand over the Queen's hand that rested unmoving flat against the table's surface. “I didn't mean to sadden you,” she said.
Queen Gabrielle offered no response.
“You are the Conqueror's greatest advocate,” the Shamaness smiled.
The Queen withdrew her hand from under the Shamaness'.
“Whether you believe me or not it doesn't matter,” the Queen said.
“I do believe you.”
“And you were wrong about another thing. It was my Lord's love for me that spared the Amazon Nation from oblivion and Thiba's and her sisters' lives.” The Queen had no need to convince herself in the truthfulness of that assertion.
“I know,” the Shamaness replied sincerely.
The Queen emptied her cup and rose to her feet. The Shamaness stood as well.
“My Lord's love for me is not a blind destructive force and I have faith in it and in my Lord.”
The Shamaness hoped she could be as convinced as the Queen was and that the Queen wasn't simply deceiving herself. She thought what the Conqueror would have done if something had actually happened to the Queen and she had to suppress a shiver.
As they walked together to the door, the Shamaness placed a halting hand on the Queen's forearm. “I have a gift for you, Gabrielle.”
“What is it?” the Queen asked and looked around trying to guess.
“After returning from supper today I was visited by your unborn child's spirit,” she said and watched the confusion forming upon the Queen's features.
“My unborn child?” the Queen faintly asked and nearly collapsed to the ground.
The Shamaness laughed as she supported the Queen and steadied her on her feet.
“You shall conceive again and give birth, a year from now,” the elderly woman revealed.
“That is impossible,” the Queen argued, too scared to even allow herself to hope, knowing she had promised her Lord never to even bring that subject up again.
“You will survive childbirth and live to see that child's children, your grandchildren. That is all that I can say to you, dear Gabrielle,” she said and her laughter rolled and filled the hut.
The Queen began to sob violently till her entire body shook uncontrollably. She threw her arms around the older woman and squeezed her so hard that the Shamaness nearly had to fight for air. Her heart overflowed with unmatched happiness.
“Thank you,” she murmured into the Shamaness' shoulder over and over again.
The Shamaness tapped gently on the Queen's back to sooth her, “You needn't thank me. It is your sisters and I who thank you, my great Queen Gabrielle,” she whispered.
When the Queen finally let go of the Shamaness, she saw the latter's face beam with a wide smile. “Go on, now,” she prodded her, “Your Lord is waiting for you.”
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