To Tame A Wild Heart
Chapter Twenty Three
The captain of my Second Army whirled around at my shout, his grey eyes wide with disbelief as he turned to face me. Almost immediately, the shock left his features to be replaced with relief, a broad grin covering his scared face. His eyes glanced between Alexandria and I as he strode towards us, the soldiers he had been talking to continuing to stare us in surprise.
"Conqueror!" He greeted me, his voice thick with relief as he gripped my forearm in welcome. He welcomed Alexandria in a similar fashion, though with more affection between the close comrades and friends.
"Palaemon," I repeated, deciding not to exchange pleasantries with the man while a war was going on in my front yard. I got straight down to business as I set my Conqueror mask firmly in place. "Report, now."
"Of course, my Lord," Palaemon replied with a respectful nod. "I got Alexandria's message two days ago, only several hours before Antony's ships were spotted. Thankfully, Captain Marcus was already returning from Sparta and was able to help. We used the catapults in an attempt to stop the Roman's from dropping anchor, b-"
"The short version, Palaemon," I growled impatiently.
"Yes, Conqueror," Palaemon said with a sheepish smile. "Antony dropped anchor with ten thousand men and we fought him at the docks but we were pushed back here. Marcus managed to keep at least a third of Antony's army in the market place, but there are at least still over three thousand men outside, Conqueror. It's a mess out there; complete chaos, my Lord. We're fighting hard, but we are outnumbered and I don't know how much longer we'll be able to stop them from infiltrating the castle. Or so I thought at least, until you got here, my Lord," Palaemon finished with a large grin. I returned his smile with a feral one of my own, my body practically humming with energy as I thought of throwing myself into the battle.
"Casualties?" Alexandria asked as I turned my eyes to the battle that was raging outside, watching with interest as one of my Royal guards managed to decapitate two men's heads with one stroke. I'd have to promote that man if he was still alive when all this was over.
"Many on both sides," Palaemon answered solemnly, running his fingers through disheveled blonde hair. "Out of the six thousand men we had, I'd say we've lost more than two thousand from what I've heard so far, most of them from the Fourth Army. We have even more that are wounded; a lot of them will be fatal. Though, on the bright side if there's any, the Romans are faring worse than us. Antony's men came in confident, too confident and the Royal guard slaughtered them as soon as they stepped foot on the docks. I'd say that they've lost at least three to four thousand men, with hundreds more wounded."
I nodded in acceptance of his words, having actually expected many more casualties on our side. I wasn't surprised by the strength of my Royal Guard though, having trained each one of them personally and knowing that they were the best that Greece had to offer. Next to the Royal Guard, the Second Army were the next best skilled, having the opportunity to train with both Palaemon and Alexandria, two of the best fighters I'd ever met.
I hoped that if I went into battle and defeated Antony, that the Roman's would surrender, but I doubted it. The Romans were power hunger and they craved glory and I knew that even if I cut off the serpents head, the body would still jerk violently until the last drop of blood exited its body. Oh well, I thought to myself emotionlessly, the more I kill now, the less I have to kill later.
"Well then," I said as a feral smile started to spread over my face. "Let's get in there and send these Roman pigs to Hades, shall we, Alexandria?"
"I'm right behind you, Xena," Alexandria said softly as she gripped her swords tightly in her hands. I watched as my second seemed to detach herself from reality and I smiled menacingly as the coldness crept into her midnight blue eyes, matching the death in my own. While Alexandria wasn't a fan of killing, she was no friend of Rome, especially when they tried to take over her homeland.
I walked to the palace doors with a final nod to Palaemon, once again knowing that Alexandria was guarding my back. The stench of blood and death greeted me as I stood on the steps of my palace, surrounded by my men. Thousands of soldiers stood in the clearing before me, taking no notice of me as they fought for their countries and their lives. I could feel the beast roaring in my chest as I pushed Xena away and became the Conqueror of Greece, Destroyer of Nations and the most feared warrior in the Known World.
"Kill 'em all!" I screamed before releasing my battle cry for the second time that day. I rushed down the stone steps, enjoying the sound of my men chanting my name as my sword sliced through armor and into the soft flesh of a Roman's soldier’s stomach. I didn't waste time to watch the look of shock on his face as his trembling hands tried to stop his intestines from falling out before he hit the blood soaked ground.
I was instantly surrounded by the enemy and I laughed mirthlessly as they swung at me with their weapons. I blocked every blow effortlessly, ducking a curved sword as it sliced through the air above my head before plunging my sword into my attackers ribcage, twisting and feeling the bones snap as the man howled in agony. I quickly kicked him off my weapon, unhooking my chakram from my hip and slicing through another man's neck almost absentmindedly.
I quickly dispatched the rest of my opponents, using the split second before I was attacked again to find my target. It wasn't hard, considering the Roman pig was watching me and probably had been since I had entered the fray. He didn't seem surprised to see me, which was disappointing, but the anger in his eyes at my appearance made it better. He was still on the edge of the battle, his dark eyes hard as I met his gaze. I smiled sweetly at him as I sunk my sword into the belly of a man coming up behind me, a coward just like his leader.
I lost sight of Antony as my vision was once again filled with Roman soldiers, all eager to strike down the Empress of Greece. I taunted each man before I sent them all to Hades, on the River Styx before they even realized they were dead. I had hardly been in the battle for half a candlemark before I felt the amount of men surrounding me begin to drop. I was starting to find it hard to keep balance with the amount of bodies that surrounded me and the Roman's seemed to notice it as well.
I glanced around me and saw Alexandria several feet away, almost completely covered in blood as she used a Roman soldier as I shield against another opponent. I wondered for a moment what I must look like, before I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a Roman soldier’s armor. I grinned at my appearance, hardly recognizing myself beneath the blood that coated my leathers. There were small pieces of splintered bone in my disheveled hair and my armor was covered in blood and gore from the men I had slaughtered. My eyes were even paler than usual, not uncommon for me when I was in the heat of battle and controlled almost completely by the beast. I looked like a demon from Tartarus and I loved it.
"Xena!" I heard Alexandria's shout over the screaming and I looked in the direction that Alexandria was pointing. Antony had finally entered the battle, his eyes blazing as he cut a path towards me, uncaringly swinging his sword as his killed both Greek and Roman soldiers to get to me. It made my insides crawl at his carelessness, just like the rest of the Roman's surrounding me. They didn't care if they took down one of their comrades, as long as it suited their purpose. It was completely different to the men in my army, who watched each other’s back when they fought.
I decided to let Antony come to me, instead of meeting him in the middle. He was helping me by slicing through the Roman's that surrounded his stallion and while the thought made me sick, it was benefitting me so I let it continue.
As Antony moved closer, so did Alexandria and I could hear Palaemon grunting behind me as he returned to the battle. I smiled, knowing that I had two friends waiting to guard my back when I faced off with Antony. It would make my job easier and it would give me time to enjoy killing the vermin scum. This man had hurt me, even more than Caesar did all those years ago. But unlike when Caesar was assassinated in Rome, Antony would not enjoy a quick death. He had bruised my ego way too much for mercy.
"Xena!" I finally heard Antony's deep voice and I sneered as I slit the throat of a faceless soldier before turning to face the dark haired man. There was now a considerable amount of blood staining the hide of his horse, though his armor was still spotless. He had the advantage, I realized immediately, of still being on top of his mount but it didn't matter. Either way, at the end of this day, Marc Antony would be dead, even if I had to follow him to Tartarus.
As if hearing my thoughts, I watched with a raised eyebrow as Antony's stallion suddenly reared up and the Roman fell off in his shock, tumbling to the ground. The horse's eyes were crazed as its head swung from side to side, almost trampling its owner as it continued to rear. I heard a slap with my sensitive hearing and watched with a smirk as the horse raced off, leaving Alexandria standing in the spot where it once was, a large grin on her face.
'Be careful,' she mouth to me before throwing herself back into the fray and I turned away from her to watch Antony pick himself up from the ground, grimacing at the blood and mud that covered his clothing. Gods, he was such a prick.
"Antony," I growled as I met the man's dark eyes, taking no notice of the protective ring that formed around us. My entire focus was now directed towards this brute and I would let nothing distract me, trusting my men to keep me from harm's way.
"Xena," Antony sneered as he held his sword up into a defensive position. At least he was smart enough not to try and attack me first. But not smart enough to keep his fucking mouth shut.
"Did you enjoy my slave, Conqueror?" The Roman grinned cruelly as my eyes flashed with rage and a growl rose from deep in my chest. "She's a good fuck, isn't she?"
I roared as I charged towards him, almost not believing such an animalistic sound came from my lips as I swung my sword. His managed to block my swing though the strength of my blow almost knocked him off his feet. I glared at him as I pushed away, thrusting my sword towards his left side. He made an effort to block it, but he was much too slow and my blade grazed his ribs, drawing a thin line of blood. I could now see why he had stayed on the sidelines; Antony was a terrible warrior.
I pulled away and took a deep breath, trying to calm myself before I finished this fight much too quickly. With the man's horrible skill with the sword, I knew it would only take me a few blows before I killed him and I didn't want that. I watched through narrowed eyes as they Roman once again held his sword in a defensive position before I spoke.
"You had a good plan, Antony," I said tonelessly, the dark haired man grinning at my words. "The slave was a nice touch, but it didn't matter in the end, did it? Because, after all, I did fuck the slave and she enjoyed it so much that she spilled every last detail of your plot against me. I also fucked Cleopatra so hard that she begged me never to leave Egypt, because she preferred my touch to your pathetic manhood."
I laughed out loud as Antony screamed, quite girlishly before rushing towards me, taking the bait. I knew of the man's feelings towards the Egyptian ruler, and I also knew that Cleopatra wasn't terribly satisfied with the Roman. He had spent the last several moons pleading to be invited to Egypt, but Cleo had rejected him over and over and invited me instead. Though, now I knew that it was the slave's idea for me to visit, but obviously Antony didn't care right now as he swung his sword towards me, leaving his left side open.
I dodged his clumsy strike and dragged my blade across the whole left side of his body, listening gleefully as Antony cried out in pain. He stumbled away from me, raising his hand to his chest as blood poured from the wound. It was deep, but it would be a long time before he would fall unconscious from the loss of blood and I planned to use that time to my advantage.
"Seriously, Marc," I sneered at the Roman as he looked up at me with fury filled eyes. "Why is it that every woman in your life leaves you for me? Are your skills in the bedroom as bad as your skill with a sword?"
He swung towards me once more and I easily side stepped his move, cutting open his left thigh, slicing through hard muscle with my chakram. I watched emotionlessly as he stumbled, his leg refusing to hold him up as he fell to one knee. With all my strength, I kicked him right between his shoulder blades and watched with a smile as he sprawled face first onto the ground.
I half expected him to give up and was slightly amazed when he pushed himself off the ground, struggling to turn around and face me. Mud and blood streaked his face and his eyes were resigned, telling me that he knew how this would end and yet refusing to give in. I almost respected him for his courage and then realized that it was just stupidity.
"Remember Xena, that even though you fucked the slave and Cleopatra, that I fucked them both too," Antony spat with a sadistic grin as he grabbed him crotch crudely. Gods, this man was disgusting. "I fucked your slave, even with her pleading into my ear for me to stop. You know what I did next, Conqueror? I gave her to my soldiers until she begged to be back in my bed and then I fucked her so hard that she bled for weeks."
The beast roared in my chest, its claw ripping at my insides as I saw red. I didn't think as I rushed forwards, burying my sword into the Roman's stomach before he could react. His eyes were wide with disbelief as I held his gaze and twisted the blade, ripping open his abdomen and feeling his warm blood soak my hands. His stared into my eyes, his dark brown orbs slightly glazed as I slowly pulled my sword from his stomach.
"You will never touch her, ever again," I growled as Antony fell to his knees, his lifeblood pouring from the gaping wound in his belly. I shouted my battle cry as I raised my sword over my head before bringing it down and removing his head from his shoulders with one swift blow.
My sword hung limply from my hand as I watched Antony's head roll away from his body that collapsed lifelessly to the ground. I hardly paid attention to the battle still raging around me, my thoughts now completely focused on the slave back in the harbour. I made a decision then, one that could affect my life quite badly, but in my eyes I could live no other way.
I had to have the slave, even if it took my whole life to convince her that we should be together. It was proved to me now as I stood in the middle of a battlefied, uncaring if someone struck me down if I had to live without the slave. If there was still a chance that I could be with her, then I had to take it. Because no matter what, I loved Gabrielle and she had done what no one else could. She had tamed my wild heart and I wanted to spend the rest of my life trying to tame hers.
To be continued in Chapter Twenty-four.
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