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 stories “Lord Conqueror of the Realm” and "Queen of the Realm." I strongly recommend you read them first because in this story there are references to events that took place in them. Here is where you can find them:
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!
Go To Part 1
Throughout the night, the Conqueror's legions' ring grew tighter around Likos' forces, which were dwindling fast as the sun made its way back to its throne in the sky. The Conqueror almost wished it would never be over. The battlefield was where she belonged more than anywhere else. The Conqueror felt more alive than she had been in moons and with every kill the hunger for it grew stronger.
Although the rain never ceased, still it seemed like there wasn't enough rain to wash away all the blood; it only diluted it some.
When realization of defeat finally came upon Likos' commanders, they ordered their men to lower their weapons and surrender. Upon registering the order, spears, bows, swords and shields were dropped to the ground, and the men dropped to their knees and raised their hands up in the air in surrender.
The Conqueror's soldiers, however, remembered their Master's order for complete annihilation.
The Realm's hoplites turned to look at their Ruler.
“These bastards raised arms against their Sovereign Lord and against you, warriors of the Realm. They threatened your homes and your families with their bloody treachery. We do not pardon traitors and we shall not take prisoners. Give no quarter!” The Conqueror's voice thundered over the rain, “Kill them all!”
The Conqueror's order was obeyed. Her warriors tightened back their clasp around their weapons and slaughtered Likos' remaining horrified soldiers down to the last one, some trying to get up and run and others accepting their fate without protest.
The rain stopped.
When it was over, the Conqueror's warriors knelt where they stood, looked up to their Sovereign, who stood upon a mound on the ground, and shouted “Conqueror!” over and over again, and beat their weapons against their shields to show their honor and respect as their Sovereign waved at them. When the cries died down, the Conqueror addressed her men.
“Loyal, brave warriors of the Realm! It was my honor and privilege to fight alongside you! You exhibited supreme discipline, excellent mastery and awe-striking bravery on the battlefield! Victory and glory is ours! There will be time to mourn the fallen, but for now, rejoice in your accomplishment!”
They cheered till their voices eroded, ecstatic like they were worshiping a god.
“Warriors of the Realm, finish off the wounded then collect all weapons, armors, purses, boots, belts and shields! Do not let anything go to waste!”
“Yes, Majesty,” they all said with one voice.
“When you are done, ale, wine, meat and women, as many as you can consume, will be your reward!”
They cheered again and rose to their feet to do their Master's biddings.
The Conqueror moved through the twitching, gagging bodies under her boots, stabbing the edge of her sword into the still beating hearts and watching life and hope being extinguished and fear being frozen permanently in the eyes.
When there was no more movement on the ground, the Conqueror ordered ten dozen men to take horses, empty wagons and gold and ride into the neighboring villages in order to procure all the ale, wine, fresh meat and women they could find.
Soon after they left, Commander Periander returned with the hoplites under his command from Epirus and made his way through the dead littering the ground to report to the Conqueror.
“Majesty,” he bowed.
“Commander,” the Conqueror greeted back.
“The enemy in Epirus has been annihilated.”
“Are they all dead? Every single one of them?”
“As you Majesty commanded,” he confirmed. “Sirus and his entire family and household have been captured alive and are guarded at all times.”
“Very good, Commander,” the Conqueror said. “The spoils?”
“All loaded, Majesty,” he replied.
“I am very pleased. Tell the men to make camp in the woods and rest. Drinks, fresh food and women are on their way,” the Conqueror smiled.
Come noon, camp was set in the woods and the Conqueror's hoplites sat around bonfires and waited for their Master's bounty to arrive, loudly singing lewd songs, while the Conqueror was in her tent with Commander Periander . At her desk, the Conqueror committed a few words to a piece of parchment and sealed it with her seal.
"Have one of the men go to the nearest beacon and deliver this. I want our victory here known in Corinth , in the Nordic Lands and in Rome , as soon as Commander Amyntas returns from his mission in Larissa."
"Once word of Likos' and Sirus' defeat reaches Rome and the Nordic Lands , it will demoralize the remaining traitors and further deter their fortitude and resolve. It will make it easier for the Realm's forces to destroy them all." Commander Periander said and took the parchment from his Master's hand.
"Correct," the Conqueror confirmed.
"I wish to inform your Majesty that Likos and his sons weren't on the battlefield."
"The wretched coward and his progeny must have remained in Larissa, then. All the better, for Commander Amyntas will bring them to me alive, soon enough."
A few loud roars of merry contentment drew the Conqueror and Commander Periander 's attention to the men outside.
"Sounds like the ale has arrived," the Conqueror said and stepped outside.
Commander Periander followed his Master outside as well to have the parchment delivered as ordered and to join the men.
Meanwhile, close to the edges of camp, a few of the Conqueror's soldiers, who had been sent to bring back women, returned after scouring the neighboring town's brothels. Upon one of the wagons carrying women into camp, one of the women pulled at the himation of the soldier driving the wagon.
"Soldier, is the Lord Conqueror really our employer today?" she asked.
"Would you like to see the Lord Conqueror's seal on the parchment carrying the order?" he asked.
"Little does that tell me. I can't read anyway, can I?" she said and the other women aboard the wagon laughed.
"The Lord Conqueror is your employer today, on my honor as a warrior of the Realm."
One of the older women, Berenice, said, "The Lord Conqueror pays handsomely, ladies."
"Enough to retire?" asked another.
"Enough to take a nice vacation," Berenice replied. "Or if you're really good at your trade, then probably retire, I suppose."
Charis, one of the youngest women, whose bosom was generously displayed, said, "I wish the Lord Conqueror would fuck me to the wall."
"I want the Lord Conqueror to swive me till my legs are numb," another said with a wanton laughter.
"I will receive the Conqueror for free, and may the great Lord wear out my –" someone else said.
But another woman interrupted her speech with a reprimand, "That is bad business and a disgrace to your trade, Aikaterine."
"Ladies," said the young Charis with the generous cleavage, "I will be first in the Conqueror's bed."
All the women aboard the wagon began bickering about who would go first. To the soldier driving the wagon, they sounded like cackling chickens.
"Ladies," said Charis, hushing her colleagues, "there is no need to quarrel. There's enough of the Lord Conqueror to go around. The Queen hasn't been servicing the Beast of Amphipolis for a while now,” then added beneath her breath, “The Gods only know what logic stood at the basis of that poor decision…"
"And what do you know about the Beast of Amphipolis? You weren't even born yet before the Queen tamed the Beast," Berenice challenged the youth.
"I've worked a few brothels in Corinth and Athens . I've heard the stories," Charis replied with an air of confidence.
"Sweet child, stories are nothing. I serviced the Conqueror after battle years ago when I was barely of age. I had been raped by warlords the year before. Let me tell you, I was more scared servicing the Conqueror for pay than I had been of the warlords who had used me against my will."
Charis, too young, too beautiful and too arrogant to pay heed to Berenice's words, shrugged her shoulders, tidied up her tresses, pushed up her breasts and said, "I am the youngest. You are just jealous because the Lord Conqueror will take me first, you dried-up, old hag."
"Ladies," the soldier pulled back the reins and stopped the wagon, "we are here!" he announced. "Go earn your bread!"
Meanwhile, in the center of the camp, Commander Periander carefully observed the Conqueror. There was something different about his Master, yet Commander Periander wasn't sure what it was. He heard the men talk among themselves about how the Conqueror had led them, and the way the Conqueror had fought. There was nothing new about it. What he was surprised to learn, however, was that the Conqueror had bothered with finishing off the wounded that had been lying on the battlefield. He hadn't seen his Master snuffing the life out of the wounded in many years.
He watched the Conqueror, with clotted blood on her armor and gauntlets, move around the central bonfire, betwixt her men. The Conqueror's strides were agile, almost feline, and restless; the muscles taut. He became nearly mesmerized when his eyes caught sight of his Master's whip handle swinging from side to side beneath the belt and her nostrils widening slightly when sniffing the air. The Conqueror's cobalt, predatory glare was leering, seeking after something. He observed how his Master downed a goblet of wine in one swig and two thin red lines of the intoxicant dripping down the angles of her mouth. He saw his Master brutishly wipe the wine with the back of her hand. The expression about his Master's features left little room for doubt. Debauchery was a wench on his Master's arm that day on camp. His Master's fire burned high, higher than the bonfire's flames, whose lights his Master bathed in. It wasn't merely regular battle-lust, at least not such that he had seen in more recent years. He realized what his Master was seeking after – a young, pretty and succulent prey.
Commander Periander remembered the Queen's generosity towards him before he had left for battle and he thought he owed his Mistress a debt of gratitude for her blessings and now was the time to repay it, and so he quickly and surreptitiously left the main bonfire and made his way to the edge of camp. As he furthered away, from behind him he received ample confirmation when he heard his Master's hoarse and peckish voice demanding to know: "Where are the women?!"
Halfway through to the southern edge of camp, knowing full well that his actions might be construed as thwarting the Conqueror's will, he saw dozens of provocatively dressed women making their way to the main bonfire, to allow the Conqueror to pick first before her subordinates. Of course that didn't prevent many of the soldiers in camp from making lewd gestures and bawdy comments as the women were passing them by.
He ordered the women and the soldiers escorting them to go back a hundred feet and remain there, prohibiting them from advancing any further than that at all times, because he got it into his head that the Conqueror wasn't able to smell whores beyond that distance.
Not a candle-mark passed and Commander Amyntas came back running to camp. When he reached the Conqueror, he bowed even before he managed to catch his breath.
"Speak!" the Conqueror ordered him, grabbing him by his armor and pulling him upwards.
"Likos and his sons were not found at Larissa, Majesty," he said. "We did capture the rest of the family, women and childe -"
" Corinth !" the Conqueror breathed out, sobering up in an instant.
"Majesty?!" Commander Amyntas emitted.
"He is on his way to Corinth !" the Conqueror's voice roared. "Fetch my horse!" she ordered one of the soldiers sitting on the ground around the fire. He jumped to his feet and ran to fetch the Conqueror's horse.
"Commander, listen very carefully to what I say. Do not interrupt me and do not ask me any questions," the Conqueror said as she mounted her horse. "Likos will arrive at Corinth via the sea. He knew I would come via the land and so he wouldn't have risked arriving via the land so as not to meet with me on my way to Thessaly . The Imperial seaport in Corinth is deserted, for my Heir took all available ships to the Nordic Lands as I commanded. Likos will attack my palace first. Have fire signals sent to Corinth . Order all civilians who live closer to Athens to evacuate their homes and go to Athens forthwith. All civilians who live closer to my palace are to seek refuge within the palace's walls. Find Commander Periander and tell him to order every single one of the Imperial Guard Cavalry to pack their equipment and ride immediately to Corinth . I shall leave now."
"By your will, Majesty," Commander Amyntas confirmed. "Aren't there any legions close enough to Corinth we can alert and order to defend Corinth , Majesty?" he asked, troubled.
"We are it, Commander," the Conqueror replied with a grave tone of voice.
The Conqueror spurred her horse, kicking its ribs, commencing a wild ride to Corinth . As she rode, she took a small comfort in the premise that it ought to take Likos a longer period of time to reach Corinth by sea and that if she rode fast enough, throughout night and day, and confiscated fresh horses from her subjects along the Queen's road, then she might have a chance to arrive at Corinth in time to save the lives of her Queen and little Princess.
Commander Amyntas grabbed another one of the soldiers, gave him a parchment with the Conqueror's orders and his Imperial ring, and ordered him to the nearest beacon to send the warning to Corinth .
Near dusk, Lady Satrina and the highest-ranking officer of the small detachment of the Imperial Guard left in Corinth came to the Queen's chambers seeking audience.
Inside the Queen's antechamber, the Queen and Princess Sieglinde, who earlier had been taking tea with the Queen before supper, stood tense with their ladies in waiting.
"Majesty, your Grace," they bowed and curtsied before the Queen and Princess Sieglinde with fallen faces, causing the Queen to dread that the worst she thought could happen had come to fruition. The Queen nearly plummeted to the ground, if it weren't for her daughter-in-law, who gently touched her elbow.
Lady Satrina, who saw the color leaving the Queen's features, understood her Mistress' distress and quickly said, "The Lord Conqueror sent a message from Thessaly by the beacons," so to let the Queen know that her Lord was alive and well.
"What is it?" Feeling like she had aged a decade, the Queen exhaled in relief. She clutched the backrest of a nearby chair and leaned her weight against it. She felt she could not remain standing without its support, for all her strength had been exhausted in the fraction of a moment when she'd thought her Lord had fallen.
"The war in Thessaly and Epirus was won. However, it would appear that Corinth is under threat, Majesty," the officer relayed to the Queen .
"What do you mean, under threat?" the Queen asked, confused, for she could not grasp any form of reality in which Likos was successful in passing her Lord unharmed.
"The Lord Conqueror gave orders that those subjects who live closer to Athens are to leave their homes immediately and flee to Athens . Those who live closer to the palace are to seek refuge within the palace walls."
"Are these my Lord's exact orders, commander?" the Queen asked the officer.
"Of course, your Majesty," he was quick to reply.
Her own mind was cluttered by thoughts about her Lord and the peril at hand, but the Queen knew her Lord's mind.
"I am in need of advices and we need to prepare ourselves. Time is of the essence," the Queen finally said. "I want the entire household staff and the entire guardsmen save the sentries who are currently on the wall, advisers, heralds, officials, and secretaries - everyone - to assemble in the Great Hall, immediately."
"Yes, Majesty," Lady Satrina and the officer acknowledged and went to their task.
Less than a candle-mark later, the Great Hall was packed from wall to wall. For many of them, it was the first time they had ever been to the Great Hall despite the fact that they had been living within the palace walls. Servants and guards, aside from those whose services were required in the Great Hall, had never ventured inside. Entry to the Great Hall, where the Lord Conqueror's Throne stood and where the Lord Conqueror sat in rule, was either by invitation or duty. And so those who had frequented the Great Hall nervously conversed among themselves in order to discover what was happening and those who hadn't were distracted by the majestic, staggering Hall and the Throne and marveled at their beauty and splendor.
Unrest and chatter ceased when the Queen, dressed in full regalia, entered the Great Hall with Princess Sieglinde to her right and their ladies in waiting walking behind them.
All in attendance bowed before them.
Princess Sieglinde seated herself on her throne and beheld her mother-in-law.
The Queen remained standing on the dais, facing her audience.
"Subjects of the Realm," she addressed them. "It is with grave and heavy heart that I stand before you at this time. I have just received word from our Sovereign Lord that Corinth is under immediate threat. Our Sovereign Lord's orders were that those subjects who live closer to Athens are to leave their homes without delay and flee to Athens . Those who live closer to the palace are to come here and be secure within the palace walls."
A few gasps and cries of anguish could be heard loud and clear.
"Officers, advisers," the Queen exclaimed and those she called for stepped out from the audience to stand in front of her.
"Majesty," they murmured.
"Is it possible that Likos' forces managed to slip through my Lord's legions?"
"Majesty," one of the advisers said and took one step forward. "I think it most unlikely. Given the Lord Conqueror's orders, I am in the opinion that the only sensible and likely option is, that the traitor Likos took a portion of his forces by sea and intends to take hold of the palace, anchoring his ships at the city's seaport, which is now empty."
Other advisers and officers nodded their heads in agreement. The advisor's words confirmed the Queen's suspicions.
"What about my Lord's forces in Thessaly ? How long before they reach Corinth ?" inquired the Queen.
Another advisor stepped forward and answered, "Your Majesty must understand that the forces at Thessaly are in extreme exhaustion and cannot be expected to travel back as fast as they reached Thessaly when they were still fresh."
"I understand, sir. How long?!" the Queen repeated her question.
The highest-ranking officer of the detachment of the Imperial Guard cleared his throat to engross the Queen's attention. "Under these circumstances - infantry can cover the distance in no less than seven days. There is the Imperial Guard Cavalry, which can cover the distance in no less than three."
"Then we can assume that the Imperial Guard Cavalry is on its way. How many warriors?"
"On horseback, five hundred men, your Majesty," the officer replied.
"Then let us hope that the traitor Likos takes longer than three days to get here and that his forces are smaller than five hundred." Inwardly the Queen doubted both and she suspected that so did the advisors and officers, but she did not wish to stir panic in the hearts of her household staff and so said nothing of her concerns.
Already aware of the fact that the Realm's legion of the province of Athens was stationed in the province of Persia, for a moment a thought crossed the Queen's mind to send a message to her Amazon sisters to come and help defend Corinth, but the following moment she realized that the Amazon Lands where twice as far from Corinth as Thessaly.
"Heralds!" the Queen called out, "all of you must go at once to the city and notify my subjects of my Lord's orders. The Imperial stables are to provide you with all the horses you need to carry out your mission as quickly as possible."
"Yes, Majesty," they all said and bowed before her.
"There will be no time wasted over proper protocol and decorum at this dire time. Is that clear?" the Queen grew impatient with the bows and the curtsies. "Also, when you are out in the city, keep your eye on the palace's highest tower. If you see fire burning, know that the enemy has landed on shore and you must keep yourselves safe."
"Yes, Majesty," they said and left the Great Hall.
Next, the Queen turned to the highest-ranking officer of the Imperial Guard, "Commander!"
"Yes, Majesty," he stepped out of the line.
"How many guards are currently under your command?" she asked him.
"Two hundred and fifty, Majesty," he replied.
"Third of your force is to keep watch on the wall. Another third is to go out to the city and give assistance and protection to my subjects and keep the order, and the remaining third is to remain in the palace and protect it. Should the men on the wall spot the enemy, they are to give a signal and the beacon in the highest tower of the palace is to be lit."
"Yes, Majesty," he mumbled.
" Corinth will not fall! The Realm will not fall!" the Queen cried out.
"Majesty!" The guardsmen shouted back and left the Great Hall as the Queen continued dispensing with orders to the rest.
Next, the Queen addressed Thetis. She detested the redheaded woman, whom she thought was competing with her for her Lord's heart, to be sure, but these were clamant times of war and she was Queen, behooved to rise above everything else and perform her duty. "Thetis, have fire-signals sent to your uncle, the governor of Athens , stating that by my order, Athens is to give assistance and relief to all Corinthians who enter the province. You will make yourself available to Lady Satrina and act as her right hand."
"By your will, Majesty," Thetis lowered her head and vacated the Great Hall, happy as always to serve the Throne of the Realm.
The Queen fixated her gaze on Lady Satrina. “Lady Satrina, have the palace prepared to take in the masses that will soon arrive. You may use the vacant barracks now that most of the Imperial Guard is away. You may use everything that is available to you, as you deem fit. Once Corinth is evacuated, have all entries bolted, all windows secure. Make this palace as impenetrable as possible.”
The Queen then looked at all the household staff, the cooks, the gardeners, the maids, the grooms, the craftsman and all the rest. “I expect all of you to support and aid Lady Satrina in her great mission. I know that you will serve my subjects with the same excellent diligence and uncanny efficiency as you do my family.”
“Yes, Majesty,” they all said.
“Secretaries and advisers, you are to offer your help in any way required and one of you will keep me informed every candle-mark as to the status of our preparations and the evacuation of Corinth .”
“During the nighttime as well, Majesty?” one of them asked.
“Yes,” the Queen replied. “That will be all."
Lastly, the Queen addressed the Imperial Healer. "I trust that due to the battles in Thessaly and Epirus , the infirmary is fully stocked and manned?"
"Indeed, your Majesty," the Imperial Healer answered.
"When the time comes and if you are shorthanded, I shall be honored to help," the Queen said.
"Thank you, your gracious Majesty," he replied. "It is always a pleasure and most educating to observe your Majesty with the sick and wounded."
Princess Sieglinde rose to her feet and stood beside the Queen on the dais. "Alas, I am not a healer as her Majesty, but I will assist you to treat those in need in any fashion required," she told the healer.
"Thank you, your Grace," he said and returned to the infirmary.
When no one else remained in the Great Hall save for her and her daughter-in-law, the Queen slumped back into her throne. Princess Sieglinde looked at the Queen with adoring and admiring eyes.
"I could only aspire to one day be half the Queen your Majesty is," she said.
"It is very kind of you to say, your Grace," the Queen gave a wan smile and when she regained her strength she got off her throne again. "Let us visit little Terreis."
A day and a half passed in agonizing waiting for the impending attack. The Queen, Princess Sieglinde and Princess Terreis, who had been living in the Imperial chambers in order to allow more room for the Corinthians to lodge in the palace, were finishing their breakfast when Lady Satrina and one of the secretaries appeared before the Queen.
"What news?" the Queen asked.
"I am pleased to inform your Majesty that Corinth is evacuated completely, and the lower levels of the palace - secure." the secretary was proud to announce.
Lady Satrina went on to give a report of the palace's status. "The palace is filled to capacity and it is highly crowded, but order is kept so far and your Majesty's subjects have a place to lay their heads down and all are fed. The heralds and third of the Imperial guards have returned to the palace."
"I am very pleased. You have done well, dear Satrina," the Queen said and felt enormous relief that her subjects were safe, at least for the time being. "What of Likos' ships?"
"Not a sign of them yet in the horizon, your Majesty," answered the secretary.
"Majesty," Lady Satrina spoke cautiously and cleared her throat, "Lady Cynna has arrived at the palace seeking shelter." When she spoke Cynna's name, she nearly whispered. "I thought I best consult with your Majesty and obtain your Majesty's permission to allow her in," she said and cast a quick glance at Princess Sieglinde, who was still seated at the table.
"Of course you must let her in," both the Queen and Princess Sieglinde spoke in unison and if it weren't for the awkward subject of conversation, they might have laughed about it.
"Yes, your Majesty," said Lady Satrina and both she and the secretary left the Imperial chambers.
On her way to the Imperial bedchamber, the Queen laid a kiss on Terreis' head, then disappeared behind the bedchamber doors. She walked over to one of the cupboards, took out her Amazon attire, her boots and her Labrys and spread them on the bed, straightening the fabric and brushing the boots and weapon in the event she would need to fight.
Close to noon, when the sun was eclipsed by silver autumn clouds, fire was set to the beacon perched on the highest tower of the Corinthian palace, and its light loomed through the morning fog that still lingered above the sea and the palace grounds, not entirely ready to dissipate completely just yet, keen to witness what was about to come.
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