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 readers nancyjean and alexandriaruth , whom I can't thank enough.
Comments & Feedback : MOST WELCOMED – The more you write me, the quicker I post.
If Gabrielle thought that the sunset she had gazed upon the previous day was breathtaking, then nothing prepared her for the staggering beauty of Thira 's sunrise. She witnessed it from the opened window opposite the bedchamber's terrace. The manner in which the early rays touched the sea created an illusion as if the cerulean water was covered with white, shimmering pearls.
Relieved that she didn't have to bother with her jewels and regal attire, she covered her nudity with a plain dress that took no more than a few brief moments to put on, and rushed downstairs to join her Lord in the kitchen.
She was in for another pleasant surprise that morning, for when she entered the kitchen, she saw her Lord standing there over a light breakfast she had prepared with nothing more than a white cotton sleeveless tonic, black trousers and a white apron tied around her slander waist with the knot at the back.
The Conqueror had never seen a smile stretching Gabrielle's lips so wide before.
"And good morning to you, too," the Conqueror frowned.
"Forgive me, my Lord," Gabrielle couldn't contain her laughter any longer, "I wasn't expecting… This," she said and gestured with her hands at the sight before her.
"Well, I wasn't born Conqueror, you know… I can cook… somewhat," the Conqueror replied defensively, as Gabrielle's eyes moved over the unevenly chopped vegetables, the coarsely sliced cheese, the bread's singed crust and the eggs, which were somewhere between scrambled and an omelet.
Gabrielle thought it was one of the most charming things that the Conqueror had ever done for her. She had undertaken a task, which clearly she did not excel at to say the least, for the sole purpose of pleasing her wife, disregarding the flawed impression of herself she might leave.
"It is the most perfect breakfast I have ever seen or tasted. Thank you, my Lord," Gabrielle said after tasting the eggs, and the Conqueror looked very pleased with herself.
After finishing their light meal, they rode together back to the small bay, where a fisherman was only too pleased to lend his boat to his Sovereign.
After Gabrielle climbed into the rocking boat, the Conqueror climbed in after her and seated herself opposite her wife. She took both paddles into each of her hands and began to row towards the volcano.
"You're not feeling nauseous, are you?" the Conqueror asked, since the small size of the boat meant that it was more rickety upon the waves than larger, heavier ships.
"Perhaps a bit, my Lord," Gabrielle replied.
The Conqueror let go of the paddles, took her wife's hand in hers and applied a pressure point on a specific place on Gabrielle's wrist.
"That ought to do it," she said and Gabrielle felt almost immediate relief. "We're almost there, Gabrielle."
"That is amazing. My Lord has many skills," Gabrielle smiled and rubbed her wrist. She was happy now with the queasiness no longer bothering her, she could enjoy the view; the sea, the isle of Thira moving further away from them, the volcano getting closer to them, and her Lord's flexing biceps as she vigorously rowed the boat.
When they've reached the foot of the volcano, the Conqueror helped her wife out of the boat and secured it with a rope to the pier.
As soon as Gabrielle's foot touched the ground, she could discern how black the earth was.
"Are you ready to climb up, Gabrielle?"
"Where are the horses, my Lord?" Gabrielle asked and looked up in search of the volcano's pinnacle.
"There are no horses here. There is no life here," the Conqueror replied. "We'll walk."
As they made their way to the top, Gabrielle noticed that it was much warmer on the volcano than in Thira . There was a strange, almost foul odor to the air as well. There were no animals there, not even insects. There were only black rocks, black grainy sand, and some very few shrubs with tiny yellow flora at their apex.
Halfway through the steep slope, Gabrielle halted to catch her breath.
The Conqueror halted her wide strides, and handed her wife a flask filled with water. Then she knelt next to her wife and said, "Climb up my back and I will carry you to the top . "
Gabrielle held on to the Conqueror's shoulders, and the scaling continued.
Nearing the summit, Gabrielle could feel that the heat had increased. There was no longer any trace of the yellow shrubs and there were fumes and grey thick smoke emanating out of the black ground from several points of origin. The only thing that kept her calm was the presence of her Lord, but that was enough.
When they reached the summit, the Conqueror lowered herself, allowing Gabrielle to climb safely down.
Gabrielle saw the large smoky crater. She could see the heat being spewed out of it dark gullet with her own eyes.
She felt drawn to see deeper into it, but the Conqueror warned her not to stand too close to the edge, so as not to lose her footing.
When Gabrielle's eyes rested on the glowing scarlet ashes and the puddle of liquid fire at the bottom, she couldn't help but think how her Lord was so much like this volcano; both tall, dark and brooding, commanding fear and respect in their presence, allowing no living things around them. Inside both there was constant deadly fire brewing, ready to irrupt at any giving moment. The smoke was a clear sign of warning, warding off any intrusions. No one could reach inside. No one could venture into the heart of either. No one could withstand, nor survive their rage.
And yet, some persistent yellow shrubs managed, somehow, and against all odds to grow close to the feet of it. Gabrielle equated herself to those yellow shrubs.
It was then that her mind drifted to Satrina's words on the morning they had left for Thira . What could she say to her Lord that would not lead to her friend's inevitable demise?
"Amazing, isn't it?"
The Conqueror's voice pulled her out of her thoughts.
"It is, my Lord," Gabrielle replied. "I have never seen such sights."
"I should have brought you to Thira a long time ago."
Gabrielle was rocked to her core. She detached her gaze from the dark glowing pit, lifted up her head and washed her eyes with the isle of Thira as seen from the volcano.
"Are you ready to go to the hot springs , now?"
"I am, my Lord," Gabrielle said and let out a deep breath.
The climb down the volcano was much easier on Gabrielle, and when they reached the bottom, they climbed back into the boat and the Conqueror rowed around the volcano then docked.
She began to disrobe and Gabrielle followed her lead and disrobed as well. When completely naked, the Conqueror jumped head first into the water. When she reemerged from under the greenish water, she warned Gabrielle that at first the water would be cold.
Gabrielle carefully entered the water, and as the Conqueror had warned, they were chilly, but she began to swim behind her Lord and soon enough the water began to warm up. It was bliss.
Close to dusk they were back at the Conqueror's villa in Thira . They stood next to each other, wrapped in clean white towels, after a warm bath they had shared on the terrace and they watched the sun go down.
"I shall never have enough of those sunsets, my Lord."
The Conqueror collected her wife into her arms and pressed her lips against the Queen's.
Thira had a profound and strange effect on the Royal couple. They each seemed deep in their own thoughts. In some ways they were closer than ever to one another and in others they seemed oceans apart.
The next day, the Royal couple decided to stroll around the small paths surrounding the villa and have a nice picnic under a tree nearby. Close to sundown, they returned back to the villa to watch the sunset, and after a light supper, they sat side by side in the armchairs in front of the burning hearth in the common chamber.
Gabrielle's mind quickly wandered to her daughter she had left in Rome at the hands of strangers, and then to Lady Satrina's dangerous words.
The Conqueror brought a goblet filled with spirits to her lips, took a large gulp then twirled the liquid in her mouth in order to enjoy its flavor, smooth body and texture. Her eyes spotted the Queen gazing at the fire with a troubled look on her face.
“Is it Athena that is occupying your thoughts, Gabrielle?”
At her Lord's question Gabrielle found comfort, thinking that her Lord was missing her daughter as much as she had.
“I miss her, my Lord,” Gabrielle said, her eyes still gazing pensively on the crackling fire.
“We shall see her again before long, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied. “But I see there is something else that is troubling you.”
“My Lord… It is with grave heart that…” Gabrielle thought she would not be able to finish her sentence. She tore her gaze from the flames and focused on her clasped hands lying in her lap.
“What is the matter?” the Conqueror sounded concerned and looked at her wife.
“Before my Lord and I had left for Thira , I had a conversation with Lady Satrina.”
“And?” the Conqueror urged her wife to go on.
“She noticed my Lord's marks on my back and shoulder,”
“That is none of her business and you should have been less careless.”
“Forgive me, my Lord. I didn't mean for her to see them.”
“Is that all?” the Conqueror inquired and her grip around her goblet tightened.
At that moment, the solid advice of Princess Lao-Ling about not allowing anyone between herself and her Lord sprung to Gabrielle's mind, and so she mustered up the courage to go on.
“I thought she was feeling sorry for me. Pride and vanity wouldn't allow me to accept her pity quietly. I told her that it was done with my consent and free will. She told me she understood. That it was that sort of… treatment that made her fall in love with my Lord. She is in love with my Lord still.”
The Conqueror refused to feel uncomfortable by Lady Satrina's infatuation, especially in Gabrielle's presence. She rubbed her chin and considered her wife's words. “She is your lady in waiting. You may do as you wish with her. Is that all?” The Conqueror noticed that concern had yet to leave her wife's countenance.
“No, my Lord.”
“What else is there?” the Conqueror asked.
“She also professed love towards me, my Lord.”
It was that statement that caused the silver goblet in the Conqueror's hand to take the shape of its owner's fingers, by the sheer force of the further tightening grip around it.
Gabrielle rushed to kneel at her livid Lord's feet.
"I pray you to spare Satrina, my Lord, it is not her fault."
"Of course it's her fault. Her emotions are her responsibility. She should have been in control of them, rather than allow it to be the other way around!” The Conqueror threw the dented silver goblet into the fire, and the liquid ignited the flames. “Satrina will face the consequences!” the Conqueror stated. She resented and envied the gall and courage that a former slave had to profess love to her Queen, gall and courage that she, the great Conqueror of the Realm, did not possess.
Gabrielle placed an appeasing hand over her Lord's knee. "Some of us cannot curb or govern feelings of love and keep them outside and far away from our hearts, my Lord,” she sounded bitter. “For most of us, the heart wants what the heart wants."
"Oh!?" the Conqueror muttered, when she thought she had heard a hint of an accusation. "And what does your heart want, Madame?" she lowered her head and looked directly into the Queen's eyes.
The Queen didn't answer.
The Conqueror grabbed her wife's chin in less than a tender manner, leaned down until her face was but a hair away from her wife's, and said with a low tone of voice and icy eyes, "I asked you a question."
It was Gabrielle's chance right then and there. Her Lord just asked the question which she had long wished to be asked, but years with the Conqueror had taught her that when her Lord referred to her by 'Madame' rather than 'My Lady', or by her own name, she was distant and hardhearted.
"To abide by my Lord's commands and desires," the Queen finally gave the answer she thought would please her Lord. She knew it was the truth, but far from being the entire truth. If she took to her grave only one secret she had kept from her Lord, it would have been the secret of her tortured, all-consuming, unrequited love she had borne her Lord for so many years. Lady Satrina had been painfully correct when she had prophesied that the Queen would never speak of her love to her Lord.
Some long burdening moments passed between them in silence. The Conqueror's mood became further overwrought with bile and darkness, when she realized her Queen's heart could only offer quiet obedience. What irked her even more was the fact that she had no one but herself to blame for it.
“We shall have no further discussion regarding this matter,” the Conqueror finally said and rose to her feet, leaving her wife still kneeling on the ground. “It is late. I am going to bed.”
“My Lord,” Gabrielle called after the Conqueror, but the latter neither halted nor turned around to face her.
In bed, in the darkness, Gabrielle reached over to the other side of the bed and touched her Lord, who was lying with her back still turned to her, but no response came. Quiet sour tears washed the Queen's face.
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