By CJ Wells
© 2000


Disclaimers: Xena‚ Gabrielle‚ Herodotus‚ Hecuba‚ Lila and Seraphin belong to those rather fortunate individuals affectionately known as The Powers That Be at Studios USA‚ Ren Pics and whatnots. The only thing I’m gaining from using them here is the personal satisfaction of toying with the characters in my own image. Certain specific Xena and Gabrielle characterizations contained in this story were originated in Chattel & Thrall by Dark Angel. For character and events background purposes‚ I suggest reading these stories‚ as well as another fine piece‚ Remuneration by Day. I drew inspiration from these stories‚ but will take my continuing stories in a different direction. All other characters named are mine.

Character Warning: The Xena and Gabrielle depicted in this story are not the warm and fuzzy Warrior Princess and Bard we see on the show. This is a Xena the Conqueror tale‚ and thus‚ Xena’s not the kind of girl you’d want to take home to meet mother. Gabrielle’s working on that problem though. I want to add that the Seraphin in this story bears absolutely no personality resemblance to that annoying creature of Sacrifice I & II‚ although technically it is the same character. This is‚ after all‚ an alternate Xenaverse. I think you’ll like her here.

Women in Love & Consensual Lesbian Sex Warning: Yes they happen‚ thank you. If you can’t handle it or for some legal or ethical reason you shouldn’t be handling it‚ please go away. I will assume no responsibility for the corruption (translation: opening) of your mind.

Violence Warning: Mild. More of a hurt-comfort deal. Also‚ there are some minor past-tense references to bondage/S/M concepts and actions.

Naughty Language Warning: Stan‚ Kyle‚ Kenny and Cartman would be proud.

Comments & Feedback: As this is my inaugural work of Fan Fiction‚ I definitely welcome it.


As I sit here staring at my scroll in this early morning hour‚ my mind is still whirling over the events of the last two weeks. How do I put this into words? I mean I can‚ I’m sure‚ but there is so much to disbelieve that if I hadn’t experienced it myself‚ I’d swear I was lying.

I’ve been the Conqueror’s body servant for several seasons now. I can no longer recall exactly when I came into her service‚ but to say that my service to her has not been easy is a crude understatement. She is a harsh and evil ruler who treats practically all of her subjects‚ whether free or enslaved‚ as though they are rolls of dough for her to knead and pummel into any image she desires. As her personal body slave‚ my services to her have involved almost everything imaginable sexually. Some of her methods have been strange‚ and others painful‚ and to this day I don’t understand the pleasure she derives from them.

What I really haven’t understood is that‚ until I became her body slave‚ I heard that she had always had more than one body slave at her disposal. Since purchasing me those many seasons ago‚ I’ve been the only one. Although I could not in my heart wish the at-times ill treatment she had inflicted on me to be shared by another‚ I had been at a loss as to why she had chosen that I should experience her treatment alone. Well‚ until now.

* * * *

It was this day two weeks ago that I went to the palace library to visit with my dear friend Demitrius. Demi‚ as I affectionately call him‚ is the official keeper of the Conqueror’s scrolls. He documents her conquests and exploits and also maintains the writings of many of the scholars and prophets of her conquered lands. Demi is an elderly man and a very kind one who has become a replacement of the father I was taken from so many seasons ago.

I had wandered into the library‚ as I often do when I’m not servicing the Conqueror‚ to read and share stories with my friend. When I walked in this day‚ I immediately noticed a somber expression on his face. You see‚ in addition to being a scholar and librarian‚ Demi has been my main source of information from the "outside". Although I am permitted to walk freely throughout the palace grounds‚ I have not been allowed to leave these grounds. Any information about the Conqueror’s lands and territories not published in the official scrolls can be obtained from Demi through one of his numerous "anonymous" sources.

I immediately became concerned about my friend’s state and asked him what troubled him. He could not look at me at first‚ but then grabbed my hands in his and delivered the most devastating news I had ever heard up to this point. My dearest sister Lila‚ who was sold to a wealthy merchant in a village close to our home village of Poteidaia‚ had just died of an infection in her lungs. As I broke down in tears‚ Demi continued on‚ telling me that the merchant was kind enough to send her body back to my parents in Poteidaia for burial. As I listened‚ anger built up inside of me. I wanted nothing more at that moment than to be with my mother. I wanted to hold her‚ to comfort my father and to watch the flames of the pyre light the night sky as I remember my beloved sister. But I knew the Conqueror would not allow this. I am her slave‚ her whore‚ and in her mind‚ nothing else but catering to her every twisted whim should ever concern me.

When she summoned me that evening for service‚ I had been crying for several hours. My eyes were red and puffy. My face was drawn. My shoulders slumped. I didn’t even expect her to notice.

I walked into her magnificent bedchamber and stood at my usual spot on the ornate rug at the foot of her bed to await instruction. She was standing by a window with her back to me. She said in her usual flat tone‚ "On your knees."

I obeyed. She turned and walked over to me. Standing before me wearing one of her elegant robes from the east‚ she parted the center of it to reveal her naked body. Just as I was about to perform my "tongue" service‚ she grabbed my chin and lifted my face up‚ forcing me to look into her eyes.

"You’ve been crying." She commented‚ as casually as one would comment on the weather. "Why have you been crying?"

I didn’t answer.

"I asked you a question‚ slave!" She shouted. "Why have you been crying?"

I was stunned. There had been times that I had reported to her after crying alone in my chamber. She never seemed to notice. There had also been times that she caused me to cry during my service to her when it had involved her whips or that phallus. Never had she asked me why‚ only insisting that I stop. Then it dawned on me. Somehow she found out about Lila. This was one of her twisted little games.

I decided I would play… fair.

"I found out that my sister has died‚ my Lady."

"Oh." Although I was looking down‚ I imagined a smirk on that evil beautiful face of hers.

"And how did you find out this piece of information?" Her tone was flat‚ with a building anger‚ I suspected.

I hesitated in answering. I feared that Demi would pay a mortal price for providing this information to me and I could not live knowing his life was forfeited because he felt I deserved to know about my sister’s death. But I was also resigned to the fact that she already knew where I received my information and was merely engaging in one of her sick games. I was therefore determined to attempt to spare the life of my friend. Conjuring up courage I didn’t know I had‚ I looked into the eyes of the woman whom I fear more than anything and tried something new. I was going to reason with the Destroyer of Nations.

"My Lady‚" I started. "Demitrius‚ you loyal librarian‚ told me of my sister. He believed that even my worthless soul deserves to know when a family member crosses over. He was not motivated by any disrespect to your Majesty. He is my friend and…"

At that moment‚ she grabbed my chin and leaned down to where her nose nearly touched mine. "Friend?" She was livid. She was also squeezing my chin so hard‚ I feared she would break the bone. "What kind of friend‚ slave? What kind of service do you provide him in MY Imperial library?"

Demi was at least 60. I couldn’t believe the absurdity of her accusation. "My Lady‚" I pleaded. "Demi… Demitrius is merely a friend. I would never…" At that point she released my chin and walked briskly back over to the same window where she was standing before.

There was a long silence‚ during which time I was contemplating just how truly demented and insane the Conqueror really was. Then‚ with her back still to me‚ she spoke again. "Would you like to see her‚ Gabrielle?" Her tone was soft‚ I believe. I’d never heard it before.

"I don’t understand‚ my Lady." I responded. I truly didn’t understand.

Her back was still to me. "What’s not to understand?" She replied. "It’s a simple question. Would you like to see her?"

She’s obviously still playing her game‚ I thought. "Yes‚ my Lady."

"Ok." She turned to me and in an instant she was standing in front of me again. "I will give you a week‚ one week. You can journey to Poteidaia to attend your sister’s funeral."

She paused. I was initially surprised she knew that Lila’s body was with my parents in my home village. I was even more surprised she knew the name of my home village. And how can she be sure that the funeral pyre had not already taken place? This combined information confirmed my suspicion that she was already well informed of the source of my sorrow.

The Conqueror continued. "I will not arrange for your travel there. You are not to use any of the horses or carriages in my Imperial stable. You are on your own‚ do you understand me?"

"Yes‚ my Lady."

She added‚ "You can arrange for someone outside of the Imperial court to transport you there‚ if you can figure that out‚ but you travel alone. No ‘friends.’" Another tone I had never heard before.

"You are to be back here by dusk a week from today. Don’t even think about running away‚ slave. If you defy me‚ I will find you and your life is forfeit‚ do you understand me?"

"Yes‚ my Lady."

"Fine. You can leave at dawn."

For a moment‚ I was stunned. Still on my knees‚ I began wondering if this was still part of the game. Was she really going to allow me to just leave Corinth? Or would she have me drawn and quartered as I walked out the palace gates in the morning? But then I realized‚ in spite of everything she is and everything she’s done‚ she has yet to lie to me. This wasn’t a game. It was a test. She wanted to see if I’d be honest with her and because I was‚ I passed. I suddenly felt an exuberance I had not felt in a long time. I was practically giddy. I jumped to my feet and smiled at the Conqueror. "Thank you‚ my Lady!"

She smiled back for a breath and then it was gone. She then grabbed me by my shift and forced me back down on my knees.

* * * *

I fathom the Conqueror didn’t believe I possess any resources for travel‚ but I do. Traveling to Poteidaia was not going to be difficult for me. Over the years I have made many friends within the walls of the palace. For this particular excursion‚ I had arranged a ride with one such friend‚ a man named Hebrion‚ who was one of the many produce suppliers to the palace kitchens. Twice a week‚ he set out to purchase exotic vegetables‚ herbs and spices from the countryside of the Peloponnese and Thessaly. He would bring the produce back to Corinth for sale to both the palace and the citizenry. The last village on his route was a tiny village just north of the city of Salonica and it was only one day’s ride from Poteidaia. I rode in his huge wagon‚ sharing my personal space with an ever-growing variety of smelly vegetables and herbs. Once in that little village‚ called Camadia‚ Hebrion arranged for his brother Tamaris‚ a resident of Camadia‚ to ride me to Poteidaia.

Although Tamaris’ wife offered lodgings in their attic loft‚ I chose to sleep in Tamaris’ stable that evening. The stable was cooler and I could venture outside at night‚ without disturbing anyone‚ to look up at the night sky and write in my scroll by moonlight. I also have to admit that I took the opportunity to just wander around their farm‚ taking in the sights and smells. It was truly wonderful just to have that kind of freedom.

At first light‚ Tamaris and I set out for Poteidaia. Tamaris was a gentle soul who was very respectful of my timidity toward horses. He rode fast but stuck to the main trails and‚ thanks to him‚ I arrived in my home village several candlemarks before dusk.

When I arrived at the home of my parents‚ Herodotus and Hecuba‚ a sharp pain ran through my stomach. I had not seen them since one year after I came into the Conqueror’s service‚ when she had them summoned to her palace and‚ in a cathartic rage‚ forced them to watch as she whipped me and then ordered me to service her. I still cannot understand why she felt the need to do that. Now in my eagerness to share my grief with them‚ I forgot to consider that they might not want to see me and be reminded of that horrible act of shame. I almost turned away from the front door‚ but something inside of me begged me to knock.

When my mother answered‚ I knew in an instant that whatever shame she felt that vile day all those many seasons ago had long ago evaporated. She gave me an embrace I had imagined I would never experience again. Father seemed to appear out of nowhere. For long moments we held each other‚ the three of us‚ in an embrace that brought many levels of tears to my eyes.

The funeral had not yet taken place. Mother said that a priestess from the temple of Demeter‚ a woman she had never seen before‚ came to her and advised her to wait until three days had passed before commencing services. In the meantime‚ she gave mother a vial of potion to pore over Lila’s body in order to preserve it.

That evening‚ I went to my father’s tiny work hut. There‚ on a table where father spends mindless hours in his woodworking hobbies lay my dear sister Lila. She was wearing a lovely chiton poderes and veil that I assumed her merchant master must have presented as a form of respect toward my parents. I could draw no other conclusion. Mother and father couldn’t have possibly afforded the regal styling and fine material of the chiton on their own. Mother had placed fresh flowers from her garden around my sister’s body and a wreath of lilacs adorned her head. Lila was at peace.

I stood there and just looked at her for the longest time. I then spoke a silent prayer to the Goddess Hestia before retiring for the evening.

The preparations for the funeral pyre took place the following day. Before setting out to town‚ I inquired about the dress. Mother said that a handsome young officer of the Conqueror’s Imperial Guard delivered it in a package the day before my arrival. She couldn’t begin to conceive why a high-ranking officer of the Realm would be delivering such a garment to a peasant woman for a dead slave. Mother considered discarding it‚ for she has utter contempt for the Conqueror and her Realm‚ but decided against that after pondering the notion that the dress could have come from me. She was shocked to learn that I had nothing to do with its delivery. Pondering this and the Priestess‚ I began to suspect at that time the Conqueror’s hand in these events.

In the early noon‚ I had made a trip to the village square to purchase some herbs for mother’s dinner stew when I spotted my old friend Seraphin. Our embrace was strong and tearful and we both stood there for long moments hugging and crying into each other’s shoulders.

Seraphin‚ Lila and I were inseparable as children. Seraphin was five when her family moved to our village. I was nine. When we were children‚ she spent many nights sleeping over with us. She looked up to me as a big sister and I often found myself telling her and Lila the most outrageous tales of monsters and sorcerers by candlelight.

Seraphin had escaped slavery by marrying young. Now‚ however‚ she was a widow and the mother of three small children. Her husband was drafted into the Conqueror’s Imperial Army when their third child was less than one. He was killed in combat during the Conqueror’s successful campaign to deflect an attempted overthrow of her stronghold in Rhodes.

After taking her children to her mother’s home‚ she returned with me to my parents’ home and spent the rest of the day helping us prepare the funeral pyre. She assisted my mother and me in the kitchen and mended a tear in the dress my mother was to wear at Lila’s funeral.

At the funeral pyre‚ I stood between my mother and Seraphin. When the flame was lit under my sister’s body‚ I grasped both of their hands. Father‚ who was on the other side of mother‚ put his arm around her. At some point‚ the four of us stood together‚ arm in arm‚ each of us carrying our special thoughts and memories of the woman we would carry with us in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

That night‚ Seraphin stayed with me at my parents’ home. She held me in a loving embrace and wiped away the tears as they came.

* * * *

I had only two full days left to spend with my parents before I would ride back to Camadia with Tamaris. Always in the back of my mind was the realization that I might never see them again‚ so I was determined to make the most of this time. I never left the farm unless I was in their company. I boiled more stew and chased more hens than I had ever imagined doing. I even joined my father in his woodworking sanctuary where I proudly carved a fairly mean looking donkey figurine. Seraphin came by on several occasions to visit. We hugged each other a great deal and spent much of our time together clasping hands and talking as good friends do.

During one of our conversations I told Seraphin about the Conqueror. I reluctantly told her of my role in the palace. Of course she already knew‚ but she could not begin to conceive what that role entailed. I told her that I didn’t understand the Conqueror most times. I didn’t understand her violent outbursts‚ her rage‚ and the way she seemed to enjoy seeing me in pain. She then asked me if the Conqueror was ever kind to me. I didn’t expect that question. I was reluctant‚ but I had to concede that‚ yes‚ there were times when the Conqueror displayed gentleness‚ warmth and even humor. This is what makes her so mysterious. How can a woman with such purity of evil be capable of warmth and humor too‚ I thought.

Through more questioning‚ Seraphin had me admitting that I was by far the best fed and best dressed of all the Conqueror’s servants‚ paid and indentured. Furthermore‚ I had the most experienced healers in Greece at my disposal‚ my personal bedchamber was larger and far more ornate than any other residence in the palace‚ with the exception of the Conqueror’s chamber‚ and not only was I the only slave in the entire palace who could read‚ I was provided unlimited access to blank scrolls on which to write my thoughts and stories.

There was a long silence before the next question came.

"Gabrielle‚" she started. "When you and the Conqueror are physically intimate‚ do you enjoy it?"

I felt as though all of the blood in my body rushed to my cheeks. "W… w… why… why do you ask that?"

"When Linus and I were intimate the first time‚ it hurt‚" she responded. "But then I came to enjoy his touches. I’m wondering.. I mean I know what you do is a ‘service‚’ but I was wondering‚ do you ever get any pleasure from it."

"I… I…" I stammered. "She’s a woman."

"So pleasure’s impossible when it’s with a woman?" She queried.

"Yes‚ I mean no. I mean‚" a long sigh followed. "She’s a woman. She’s soft and so… so beautiful and… And it happens sometimes." I said. It happens most times‚ I thought.

Another long silence.

"Gabrielle‚ do you love her?"

I looked at the floor. "Does she love you?" she asked. I started crying.

"It’s ok." She took my slumped and wailing form into her arms.

* * * *

I was ever so proud of myself when I saw the gates of Corinth. I had made it back in the time allotted with time to spare. This despite the fact that Hebrion had a wicked case of the trots and I spend a solid candlemark waiting in his vegetable infested cart as he fouled up the bottom of a giant tree.

I decided to stop at my own bedchamber to drop off my travel sack before proceeding on to the Conqueror’s chamber. I didn’t want to wait to be summoned. For some reason‚ I felt I needed to show some initiative. I did peek into the palace library on my way there just to make sure Demi was still in one piece. He appeared just fine as he chatted with his assistant.

When I entered her chamber‚ I looked around but I didn’t see her. I also didn’t see the fist that struck my jaw with the force of angry mule’s kick. I fell to the floor and immediately put my left hand over the throbbing pain in my face. I felt the wetness of blood in my palm‚ the result of a gash inflicted by her Imperial ring.

I looked up and saw a mask of rage and something else I couldn’t read on the Conqueror’s face.

"So while you were taking a break from being my little whore‚ you decided to take a little whore for yourself‚ I see." When she spoke those words‚ her voice was a poison.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about‚ my Lady." I tried desperately to contain them‚ but the tears started to flow.

"Don’t you fucking lie to me‚ bitch!" She grabbed me by my shirt and dragged my over to that familiar rug. She then released me and started pacing around the room. I felt like a dying rabbit and she the vulture waiting for me to take my last breath.

"Did you think you wouldn’t be followed?" She started. I suspected at that moment that she probably followed me herself and camped outside the village. The Priestess‚ the Imperial officer‚ the dress‚ everything was falling into place. The Conqueror wanted me to go there so she could spy on me. It was a game after all. I felt sick to my stomach. "You and that peasant cunt. You’ve seemed to forget whom you belong to. You belong to me! And she’s gonna pay for putting her hands on what’s mine!"

As she was ranting‚ the old reminder that she branded into my back so many seasons ago started to mysteriously hurt. She was still pacing.

I tried reasoning again. "My Lady‚ nothing happened. I didn’t experience any physical intimacy with Seraphin." The sound of her name on my lips caused the Conqueror to shoot me a stare that could cut like her prized chakram.

I rambled on. "I was grieving my sister‚ my Lady. She only touched me to hug me when I cried. I needed to be held. I miss Lila. I was mourning for her. Seraphin and I‚ mostly we just talked. She asked me questions." The last sentence came out before I could stop it.

The pacing stopped. "Questions? What questions?"

"Nothing important‚ my Lady."

She grabbed my neck with her right hand. "Liar! What did she ask you?"

"She asked if you loved me." I was rasping because her grip was so tight.

"Really‚" her grip got even tighter. "And what did you tell her?"

"‘No‚’ of course‚ my Lady‚" I responded. "I told her ‘no.’"

It was what I assumed to be the truth.

She released her grip on my neck and immediately began pacing again. She didn’t say anything for long moments‚ then‚ "I’m going to have her brought here‚" she continued. "And I’m going to personally hack that peasant cunt into tiny little pieces. And you’re going to watch me as I do it."

And then she was on top of me‚ straddling me. This time she had her left hand on my throat and a dagger appeared in her right. She put the dagger to my chin and her face within a hair’s breath of mine. I could smell the ale on her breath. "And when I’m done cutting up your peasant cunt‚ I’m going to cut you too."

I don’t know if she saw the sheer darkness in my eyes‚ but her expression began to change as my lips tightened and all of the anger and pain of my sister’s death‚ of my separation from my parents‚ and of her brutality came crashing into my soul.

"Then kill me! Kill me now! Put me out of my fucking misery. I have no life anyway. You want to do it‚ Conqueror? Do it!"

I closed my tear-soaked eyes and waited for her to plunge the dagger into my throat. I felt her breathing on my face. Then it was gone. I then felt her left hand release my neck. I heard her grunt and then I heard the sound of an object fly through the air and impale into a wall. Then her weight was off of me.

When I opened my eyes‚ I looked up and over and saw her‚ on her knees‚ looking at her hands.

"You’re wrong‚ Gabrielle." She whispered. I think she was talking to herself. She was still looking at her hands. What was I wrong about? I thought to myself. I was afraid of the question‚ and the answer. Then she looked at me. The gods must be cruel‚ for she is truly the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. "Come here‚" she said.

I was so frightened at that moment that I was paralyzed to move. I wasn’t afraid she would strike me again. I was afraid of something else. But something within me pulled me‚ however‚ and I crawled over to her. She reached out and wrapped her arms around me in an embrace I had never experienced from her before. I cried hard. Each wail or scream out of my mouth was met with a tighter squeeze. She began rocking me and I do believe I felt her lips press against my forehead. I could be wrong though.

When my sobs finally died down‚ she released me. She stood up and went over to one of her tables‚ where she poured water into a large basin and took a linen cloth and wet it. She came back to me‚ where I was now kneeling on the floor‚ and wiped away the tears and the blood from the gash on my cheek. We looked at each other for the longest time. I wanted to say something‚ but I was too afraid.

She got up and put the cloth back on the table. With her back to me‚ she said‚ "Go lay down."

I obeyed. Something in me wanted me to. As is routine‚ I took off all of my clothing and lay on the bed with my arms over my head and my legs spread apart. I was looking at the familiar groove in the ceiling when‚ instead of lying on top of me‚ she lay down next to me. She grabbed my clasping hands into her right hand and brought my arms down and rested my hands on my belly. She then began to caress my hands‚ running her callused thumb over my fingers. She seemed rather awkward doing this. She then put her fingers on my chin and turned my head to face her and forced me to gaze into those magnificent blue eyes of hers. She began lightly rubbing my sore cheek with the backs of her fingers. To my surprise they were slightly trembling.

"She is your friend‚ Gabrielle?" she asked.

"Nothing more‚ Conqueror." I responded.

My mind was cloudy at this sudden change of behavior‚ but I was also beyond exhaustion. Nonetheless‚ we stared at each other for moments until the emotion of the day claimed us both.

* * * *

When I woke up later that evening‚ I was lying on my side and felt a strong arm wrapped around my waist. I felt the tickle of steady breathing in my hair and I felt warm soft skin from my upper back to the backs of my legs. I was cupped against her naked body. Night had fallen. I was initially too afraid to turn my head to see if she was truly sleeping. I had spent countless nights in the Conqueror’s bed over the seasons. Even after the most exhaustive sex‚ we had never ended up in an intimate embrace. When she didn’t get out of the bed and order me to leave‚ she would roll over and order me to leave. But in the increasing frequency of occasions that she would tell me to stay‚ she still wouldn’t touch me once I was finished servicing her.

Now here she was‚ holding me when she had not even had me in over a week. I tried to shift just a little. Now I really wanted to see her sleeping‚ an image she usually denied me. My shifting caused her to shift and her grip on my waist became tighter. She started moaning and I assumed that she was dreaming of sex. It was quite funny and I laughed to myself at the thought.

Then she let out a big breath‚ followed by words that stopped my heart from beating.

"I love you‚ Gabrielle. So much‚" she mumbled. A second sigh and then her breathing was steady again.

It was sometime before I realized that I was holding my own breath. I lay there‚ staring into darkness‚ those words rolling around in my head until Morpheus claimed me once again.

* * * *

When I rose the next morning‚ the Conqueror was gone. I could tell from the position of the sun’s rays in the room and the intense heat that I had slept through much of the morning. Gathering up my clothing‚ I retreated to my own bedchamber.

A bath and a hearty meal later‚ I found myself mysteriously combing the palace grounds in search of the Conqueror. Now I was engaging in behavior I didn’t understand. Much of my existence with her had entailed doing whatever necessary to avoid being in her presence when I wasn’t summoned to do so. Now here I was actually looking for her.

I found her in the center courtyard. I couldn’t make out what she was saying‚ but her regal appearance and the battered and bloody appearance of her elite Imperial Guard suggested that she was leading a training session. Inconspicuously‚ I slid down against a large pillar at the northwest corner of the courtyard and‚ sitting with my back resting against it‚ I watched the training for a while.

She was the perfect image of beauty and grace with her sword‚ even as she was slicing the flesh of the men she trained. They in return seemed to hold every injury as a badge of honor. But when the Conqueror saw me sitting there‚ she immediately stopped what she was doing and walked over to me. I was petrified. What in Tartarus was I thinking coming here? I admonished to myself. I expected her to strike me or humiliate me somehow just for being there. I immediately stood up and began my apologies in the slight hope that my punishment would not be too embarrassing or painful.

"I’m sorry‚ my Lady. I was just observing your Majesty’s training session."

She said nothing. She just smiled and lightly ran the backs of the dirtied and bloodied fingers of her right hand along the left side of my face. When she turned to return to her men‚ my knees gave out and I was back on the ground again.

I stayed and watched for about another candlemark. She would look over frequently at me. I thought that maybe she was making sure I was still there‚ but I found that notion too preposterous. Why would she care? I thought. Another equally preposterous notion crossed my mind. Before she noticed that I was there‚ she was very brutal toward her men‚ forcing them to feign attacking her‚ which resulted in their injuries. After noticing my presence‚ her demeanor changed. She spoke more and demonstrated maneuvers without an opponent. It was like watching her dance‚ allowing me to see just how talented she was with her weaponry and her body. Maybe the Conqueror is showing off to me. I giggled. Truly preposterous‚ Gab‚ I concluded. When I finally left‚ I went to the library to read and have a chat with Demi. I remained there until nightfall.

When I was summoned to the Conqueror’s chamber for service that evening‚ she was already lying in bed. This had never been the case before. As I was proceeding to my normal spot to await instruction‚ she told me to come lie down. I removed my clothing and lay down next to her. She was likewise completely nude. She then handed me a goblet of wine. I’ve shared wine with Demi and the palace servants a few times over the years‚ but I had never consumed any wine with the Conqueror. I didn’t know what to do‚ so I just stared at the goblet. "Drink‚ Gabrielle‚" she said. As the sweet‚ pleasant tasting red wine poured down my throat‚ I contemplated that maybe I was being poisoned. But then‚ the Conqueror‚ who also drank a goblet with me‚ simply rolled over to me and grabbed me into a tight embrace. She spoke a few words and then within moments‚ the Destroyer of Nations was asleep.

Thus began the first of six nights of my non-service to the Conqueror.

Each of the successive nights was almost identical. I would enter her chamber and immediately lie down. She would embrace me and we would lie there with our naked bodies enveloping each other. Sometimes she’d take my hand in hers and look at me funny. She spoke‚ but it was only to say something unusual about her day or a trip she was planning or a battle she was anticipating. One night she asked me to tell her about Lila. I was very hesitant‚ but she kept encouraging me with question after question and I ended up filling her ears with mindless chatter about the misadventures of two silly peasant girls. She didn’t seem to mind. As I babbled on‚ I would occasionally glance at her. Each time she had a strange smile on her face‚ but at least she didn’t appear bored.

One evening she brought out the phallus and asked me if I enjoyed it when she used it on me. I was torn between telling her the truth and telling her what I thought she wanted to hear‚ knowing how much she enjoys using it on me. Somewhere in my core‚ truth won out. "I hate that thing‚ my Lady." I said. She laughed and put it away. I still cannot figure out the meaning behind her question or that laugh.

Last night‚ when I reported to her for service‚ she was standing by a window. She was dressed in a lovely indigo and cream-colored silk chiton and himation. Her hair was down but she wore a laurel wreath. Her attire suggested that she was about to attend a drama at the theater or perhaps an Imperial soiree. She looked absolutely stunning. Although I had been getting right into bed the last few nights‚ something told me that I should stand in my spot and await instruction.

The Conqueror turned to face me‚ forcing me to gaze at her unreal beauty for several moments. Then she removed her laurel wreath and told me to lie down. Although I hadn’t had to do this for several nights now‚ something again told me to assume my servicing position on the bed. When she appeared before me‚ she was naked. She climbed on top of me and gently slid her thigh between my legs. Then she took my hands and put them on her face.

"Touch my face‚" she said. I did and she began caressing my face as well. We were like that for several moments‚ caressing each other’s face‚ neck‚ hair and ears with our hands. We were both trembling. But as I gazed into her eyes and she gazed into mine‚ our touches took on a calming effect. We never lost eye contact as our hands explored our faces. My heart started beating faster.

"You have beautiful eyes‚ Gabrielle‚" she said. "They are the color of springtime."

She then leaned in and kissed my lips. This wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was the way she kissed me. Rather than her normal tongue thrusting and lip biting‚ her lips caressed and pampered mine. They were very soft‚ something she hadn’t allowed me to notice before. And she invited my tongue into her mouth for a change. We must have kissed for a solid candlemark it seemed. It grew deeper‚ more intimate‚ and more passionate. It was wonderful. I could feel her heart beating against my chest and hear her moans in my mouth. When she finally removed her lips from my lips‚ it was to kiss my cheeks and my forehead and my ears and my neck. I was in the Elysian Fields. My hands were digging in and combing through her thick silky black hair. Something buried inside of me wanted me to do that for a long time.

"You are so beautiful‚" she whispered as she licked my left ear. My center was dripping wet.

When we’re standing‚ the Conqueror is much taller than me. However‚ most of that added length is in her long and glorious legs. From head to hips‚ she is actually only slightly taller than me. Thus‚ her body on top of mine is a perfect fit. My mouth is even with the pulse point in her neck. As she lay on me‚ I began to suckle her neck as she ground her thigh into my sex. Her moaning vibrated my lips on her neck. Pure passionate instinct kicked in and I bent my knees and tightly straddled her thigh between mine. In that position‚ I could feel her wet sex grinding into the crook of my hip and right thigh as she continued the rhythmic thrusting of her hips. I was thrusting as well.

Whatever bashfulness existed when we first started this had evaporated now. In addition to our rhythmic tribade‚ at this point our hands were everywhere. Mine had settled into the center of her back‚ rubbing in large circles or massaging strong muscles. Her left hand was alternately caressing my breasts. Her right hand had dug between our bodies and was working its way between her thigh and my sex. When she finally found her mark‚ she plunged three fingers inside of me. Thoroughly aroused‚ my hands moved lower and began kneading her ass and pushing her body further onto me. This was bliss.

Our lips met again as the grinding became more frantic. We were sweating all over each other. Our hair was soaked and the smell of our sex permeated the entire bedchamber. When we finally found release simultaneously‚ we screamed our joy into each other’s mouths.

* * * *

When our bodies came down from the remaining jolts of release‚ the Conqueror relaxed all of her weight on me. We were both still breathing rather heavily however and her wet hair was like a blanket over my face and upper body. Somewhere inside of me‚ I answered an urge to clear a lock of damp black hair away from her left cheek. When I kissed her there‚ she flinched and instantly climbed up off of me.

I couldn’t see her face when she quickly walked over to stare out of that now familiar window. Although the cool evening air that was allowed to hit my body provided a refreshing feeling‚ I instantly missed the contact with her. I also knew something was wrong. She wouldn’t move. She wouldn’t look at me.

"I’m done with you for the night‚ slave. Leave."

Those words hit me harder than any blow of a fist could ever do. I was so hurt by what she said that I didn’t realize at the time the cracking of her voice when she said it. I gathered up my clothing and practically ran out of the bedchamber.

Once in my own chamber‚ I sat in the center of my bed‚ knees propped up to my chin‚ arms wrapped around my lower legs‚ crying on my kneecaps. In the past‚ always in the back of my mind when we had sex‚ well‚ when that sex was pleasurable to me‚ was the reminder that I was doing a service‚ a duty. I considered all of that pleasure and release to be a benefit of servitude to a sensuous and powerful woman‚ much like the delectable meals I ate. When it wasn’t pleasurable‚ I considered it a natural hardship of slavery.

But this wasn’t a service. Not in my mind. Yes‚ the raw passion was there. The desire was there. But when we held each other and kissed and touched and felt each other’s throbbing sex‚ I was feeling her love. I was feeling the words she mumbled in her sleep those days ago. And I was feeling love for her‚ something that until this night I didn’t think she deserved‚ even from me. Especially from me. And so she did what I should have expected her to do. She proved to me once again that she didn’t deserve my love.

Just as my tears of hurt and pain began turning into tears of anger‚ my chamber door cracked open and a head shyly poked in. It was the Conqueror.

"Gabrielle‚" she whispered. "Come back to my bedchamber." It was a request‚ not a demand. As soon as she said it‚ the door was closed. I scrambled from my bed and opened my door to look out. I saw no one.

I returned to her bedchamber to find her lying in bed. I climbed in on my side defiantly keeping my sleep shift on. I could feel the wetness of sweat and sex on the sheets under my back from where we had‚ what I thought‚ consummated our love. I was still very angry with her. When I looked over at her‚ she was naked. She was also staring at the ceiling and had her arms stretched up above her head. This is ironic‚ I thought.

Although it was nightfall‚ the candles in the chamber illuminated the room well enough to where I could get a good look at her face. I squinted‚ more in disbelief than for any visual problems‚ when I noticed that a streak of a tear blemished the side of her face.

I started staring at the ceiling too. I focused in on that ever-familiar groove when I made the decision that I believed would cost me my life. Now is the time. I told myself. When she kills me‚ I will die knowing that for once‚ at the end‚ I spoke to her as a woman rather than as a slave. I turned to her prepared to speak the last words I would speak in this life.

"You were right‚ Xena. I was wrong. We both were."

I had violated the greatest rule of the Realm. Not only had I deliberately omitted an honorific when addressing the Conqueror‚ I had addressed the Conqueror by her first name. There is no greater act of treason to her Empire and the only punishment is death. That was ok. My last words were a declaration of my love and I would cross over knowing that fact. This is who I am and I will not accept any less of myself anymore. Thus‚ I took a deep breath and waited for my fate.

From the side of my vision‚ I saw her shift and felt her body heat approach me. I then felt her arms grab me under my armpits and lift me‚ like one would a small child‚ and pull me over to her. Then I felt those same arms wrap around my back and a hand press my head into the crook of her neck. Then that hand began stroking my hair. I was lying on top of the Conqueror.

"I love you‚ Xena. So much." I whispered‚ repeating those same words she had unknowingly spoken to me.

Xena sighed deeply and kissed my forehead. We lay there until Morpheus once again claimed us. When I dreamt‚ I dreamt of Lila. We are in a field together‚ surrounded by lilacs‚ and we are laughing.

* * * *

This morning I slipped out from Xena’s embrace and returned to my chamber. I know I’m endangering myself by leaving her bedchamber without her permission‚ but I wanted to write all of this down before I forgot it or before she came out of this fog of love she’s in and decides to kill me. I love her. I admit that now‚ insane as it is. If she kills me‚ she’ll be killing probably the only person who feels this way toward her and has ever felt this way toward her. I hope she doesn’t do that to herself.

I feel a sense of strength now. I’m no longer afraid of her. I know in my heart that I cannot erase the physical and emotional pain she has brought onto me over the years. The scars on my body and the ones in my heart are a constant reminder. But I won’t allow her to hurt me anymore. I love her‚ but I’ll kill her first. And maybe now I can begin to heal and grow and gain an understanding as to why she needed to treat me the way she did. Maybe now I’ll simply ask her.


For Xena’s version of similar events‚ I cordially invite you to read Freedom.

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