VIOLENT/NON-CONSENSUAL SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER: It is a story portraying a Conqueror/slave relationship, so it would appear non-consensual at first. As for sexual violence, there are scenes (In parts 3 and 4) which are detailed and graphic, and may not suite some readers.
Other Disclaimers: See Part 1
SPECIAL THANKS : My humble most ardent gratitude to the excellent, most brilliant Beta reader nancyjean , whom I can't thank enough.
Comments & Feedback : MOST WELCOMED – The more you write me, the quicker I post.
The next day the Conqueror returned to camp, leaving her slave back at the wagon, which had been her temporary abode since the beginning of the campaign. Anxious to reach Corinth , the Conqueror detached the Imperial Guard from the rest of her legions and put them on the fasted rout back to Greece , the wagon with her slave at the back.
On their way back, the Conqueror called on her slave each and every night, without exception. Just after they had passed through the moors of Khalid, the nightly visits to the slave's wagon ceased. On the third night on which the Conqueror failed to appear, the slave asked Neros, the nightshift guard, if something had happened.
"The Conqueror ordered me to inform you that she has taken ill, should you ask," he answered.
"How dire is it?" asked the slave.
"It might be severe. A quarter of the Imperial Guard is ravaged by illness and some of them have died already," he said with a grave tone of voice and even graver expression.
"What does the healer say?" She was fighting to remain calm.
"I don't think he knows what's causing it. He believes it might be poison. We stocked on provisions in Persia for the journey home. You needn't worry. Since you were well stocked, none of Persia 's products were given to you."
"Please take me to see the Conqueror," the slave asked.
"There is no need. The Conqueror receives daily report regarding your health, as ordered. Besides, I can't. The Conqueror ordered no one except the healer is to enter her tent, and you are not allowed into camp," he said.
"Please, I'm begging you," she pleaded.
" I can't disobey the Conqueror's specific orders.”
"Then I shall go without you."
" I cannot allow that.”
" I promise you, I will be the one to answer for the disobedience.”
He took a few moments to consider her words and finally he let out a deep sigh, " Very well."
As the slave exited the wagon and covered her body from head to toe with her cape, it began to snow. He helped her to his horse and they road together into camp. The smell that hit the slave's nostrils was vile. The stench was emanating from the rotting cadavers of the recently deceased soldiers of the Imperial Guard who had succumbed to the disease. The slave covered her mouth and nose with the cape.
When they arrived at the Conqueror's tent, they dismounted the horse and were greeted by the healer, who was surprised to see his apprentice there.
"Lady Gabrielle, thank the Gods you are here, I could use all the help I can get," he wasted no time with inquiries as to her presence amongst them. "Would you please go and have a look at the soldiers in the tent over there," he said and pointed to a nearby tent.
"I wish to examine the Conqueror first, if you don't mind, Sir," she said.
" The Conqueror's orders are…"
"Yes. I know,” she sounded short tempered for she was anxious to see her Lord. “It is my choice to disobey and suffer the consequences," she said, moving around him and attempting to enter the Conqueror's tent, when she felt his hand gripping her arm and preventing her from moving forwards.
She raised her head and looked directly into his eyes with an expression he had never seen on her face before. Then he released her, realizing he might have misjudged, even underestimated the young woman.
She entered her Lord's tent. Inside, she saw a big bonfire burning high in the middle and her Lord lying shivering under a pile of furs. The linens beneath her Lord were soaking with sweat.
The healer went in right after her.
"Has my Lord been vomiting?" she asked.
"Has my Lord complained about joint pain?"
"Yes," he answered. "Do you know what it is?"
The slave knelt beside her Lord and placed her hand over her forehead.
"My Lord is burning up," she said to the healer, not noticing that the Conqueror had opened her eyes.
"What is she doing here?" Vexed, the Conqueror demanded to know.
Upon hearing the Conqueror's angry voice, Milos and Neros, who were posted outside the Conqueror's tent, rushed inside.
"You!" The Conqueror looked at Neros. " Haven't I given you specific orders that no one is allowed in here?!"
" Your Majesty, Gabrielle said she would claim responsibility ," he answered, petrified.
"Are you an imbecile? She is a slave! What responsibility could she possibly claim!?"
He could do nothing but hang his head down between his shoulders in shame.
"I'm cold. Put another fur on me," the Conqueror ordered, "then get her out of here.”
"My Lord, I've read about this affliction in an old Chinese healing volume. It is not poison, it's the sweats," the slave said. "With my Lord's permission…" but the Conqueror slipped into deep sleep while still convulsing.
The slave's heart sunk with dread, but she knew she could not afford to surrender to it if lives were to be saved. Taking a deep breath to consolidate her mind, she turned to the healer and saw him taking another fur to cover the Conqueror's body.
"Stop," she said. " My Lord's blood is boiling. We must cool it now.”
He opened his mouth to issue an argument, but the slave wouldn't hear of it. "Are all the soldiers who have taken ill suffering the same symptoms?"
"They are," he confirmed.
" Then if you want to save lives, you must listen to me, and follow my instructions ," she said and couldn't recognize herself.
" The sweats are caused by mosquitoes' bites. I've notice we've passed by some moors which by and large are teeming with them.”
" We have.”
"You must order a few of the soldiers unaffected to go about half a day ride west of here and bring leaves and some of the inner core from the stem of a plant called ‘Artemisia annua.'"
"How would they recognize it?"
"It has fern-like leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a camphor-like scent. Its height averages about the Conqueror's height and the plant has a single stem," she explained. "If they leave now they will be back this time tomorrow."
" Have the healthy soldiers burn the corpses of the dead outside camp perimeter. They mustn't consume water filled up at the moors but melt the fresh snow or use rainwater only. The ones with the fever are to be moved outside their tents, laid down on the snow covering the ground outside, and be closely watched so that they won't freeze to death.”
As the healer was about to exit the Conqueror's tent, the slave stood and gripped the linens underneath the Conqueror's body, "First help me move my Lord outside," she said and looked at the healer and the two guardsmen.
To do that would have been to disobey the Conqueror's direct order. None would help a slave disobeying her Master, but none hindered her actions either.
" Very well then, I'll do it without your help, " the slave mumbled and dragged the linens with her Lord on top of it with all the strength she could possibly muster.
Meanwhile, the healer ordered the healthy soldiers in accordance to the slave's specific instructions.
Outside, in the snow, the slave was keeping a close watch over her Lord, observing the vapors of her hot breath in the chilling air outside, wiping the sweat off her forehead with a wet piece of cloth and minding the temperature of her shivering body, never leaving her Lord's side. She ignored the stench of burnt bodies borne by the winds from afar. It reminded her of the day her Lord had branded her. On occasion one soldier or another would bring her a hot cop of steaming tea and some bread to keep her warm and well nourished.
Throughout the night, the slave remained vigilant. She walked around her Lord lying on the ground, circling her to generate sufficient body heat in her own bones.
A day went by and the soldiers, who had been sent to retrieve the 'Artemisia annua' plant, returned to camp. The slave rushed to them, took the plant and boiled it so as to brew a concoction and asked the healer to do the same.
To her horror, when she returned to her Lord's side she immediately noticed her Lord's chest wasn't heaving any longer and no vapors came out of her mouth and nostrils. Terrified, the slave fell to her knees beside her Lord. She pried open her Lord's jaw, pressed down her tongue with two small fingers and poured the warm concoction she had brewed into her Lord's gullet.
Frantically, the slave grabbed the Conqueror by her lapels and shook her, " Wake up!" she shouted, feeling as if the earth beneath her was shifting and was about to swallow her whole.
There was no response, not even a twitch.
It never occurred to the slave that her omnipotence Lord could yield or surrender to anything, least of all to a tiny, insignificant and powerless creature such as a mosquito. She simply couldn't fathom such a concept.
"Wake up!" the slave shouted again with all the air in her lungs.
Hot tears began to wash her cold face and miserable wailings, which resembled that of a wounded animal, came out of her throat.
The healer, along with several other soldiers, began to gather around them, yet kept a respectable distance, as if honoring some unwritten code of privacy between Master and slave.
"Please, I beg of you, my Lord… Come back to me." The crying slave began hitting her Lord's chest with her little fists, completely out of her mind with something that couldn't be defined by any other word other than sorrow.
The audience behind her simply kept still and watched her in silence, as snowflakes floated in the air around them. It's not everyday one gets to witness a heartbroken body slave mourning the death of her Master. It was surreal.
The slave then did something she has never done before. She placed her lips over her Lord's purplish ones. She blew her breath into her Lord's lungs, but to no avail.
Grief-stricken, she placed her head over the unmoving chest of the Conqueror and cried her soul out. "In all my years of service to my Lord, I've asked not one thing of you . I pray you now - Please, don't leave me! Fight! Fight, damn you! " Enraged, she resumed landing her fists over her Master's chest. "You are the Conqueror. The world cowers at your feet. Nothing has power over you, not even death!"
A burst of hot vapors erupted from the Conqueror's mouth, like a huge cloud of smoke out of a dragon. The Conqueror opened her eyes. She looked at her slave, then threw her gaze over her slave's shoulder and said to her subordinates: "What are you all standing around here for? Haven't you got anything better to do? And when we return to the Realm, you'll do well not to tell anyone I have fallen ill!"
Their audience left them alone immediately.
With the slave's words still ringing in her ears the Conqueror couldn't believe what she had absorbed with her own senses, such language, such fervor she'd never heard crossing the slave's lips .
"You're wrong," the Conqueror said referring to her slave's last sentence. What she meant was that that assertion wasn't true, for a worthless slave she had purchased on a whim all these years ago had power over her, but what the slave understood was that the Conqueror truly believed she had been in Death's grasp.
The slave asked her Lord to open her mouth. Tentatively, she placed a single finger under her Master's tongue to check her temperature. "The fever broke," the slave confirmed and wiped her tears on her cape sleeve. Her eyes were still bloodshot from crying and lack of sleep.
With the help of her slave, the Conqueror returned back to her tent, where her slave served her with a light meal, and fresh water.
" I don't understand you. If I had died, you would have gained back your freedom." The Conqueror was bewildered like never before.
The next few words that came out of the slave's mouth stunned the Conqueror.
" I belong to my Lord," her slave simply stated.
"You look weary," the Conqueror finally said. "Neros will escort you back to the wagon. Get some sleep.”
But the slave didn't move.
"Go on, now. I'll be just fine," the Conqueror's lips curled upwards, almost forming a faint smile.
"My Lord should keep consuming the 'Artemisia annua' brew , for the betterment of health, " the slave said before vacating the Conqueror's tent, “and some meat and vegetables broth.”
"I shall. In six days we'll be back in Corinth . I will not visit with you until then, for I need to regain my strength," the Conqueror informed the slave.
After the slave had left, the Conqueror summoned her healer and ordered him to tell her everything that had happened from the point she had lost her consciousness until the moment she had regained it.
The healer told the Conqueror everything her slave had said and done.
Return to the Academy