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:
Announcement - Thanks to my savvy, diligent and extraordinary beta-reader, Nancyjean - Lord Conqueror of the Realm can now be found on an Ebook format as well. Here is the link:
Lord Conqueror of the Realm is listed alphabetically down the page, the first "L" story.
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
The Conqueror loomed above her Queen, who was kneeling at her feet with tears trickling down from her green eyes. One by one all present in the palace entrance hall, the guards, the household staff, the Queen's ladies in waiting, and the Corinthian subjects that took refuge, knelt down before their Sovereign Lord in deafening silence, not even mumbling 'Majesty' for they were all too awe-stricken to form and utter words. Out of reverence to their Deliverer, as though they were in the presence of a God, none lifted their heads or dared attempt to behold the terrible Conqueror.
The Conqueror, whose breath was deep and heavy, crouched over her Queen, and gently hoisted her up by her armpits.
"Rise," the Conqueror whispered to the Queen, and the Queen made use of her legs.
With a mute gesture, the Conqueror offered her Queen her arm for support, and the Queen gladly took it.
They walked together in silence through the motionless corridor. Through the gauntlet covering the Conqueror's forearm, where the Queen clutched, she could sense the heat glowing from her Lord's flesh, and beneath her Lord's skin she could see bulging veins pumping hot blood mired by lust and power.
When they passed by the Lady Satrina, the Queen stopped and touched Lady Satrina's shoulder to garner her attention.
"Have my Lord's grooms prepare a warm bath for my Lord and have supper brought up to the Imperial chambers, as well. Be sure to tell the cook to prepare both fish and veal."
"Yes, Majesty," the Lady Satrina whispered.
As the Conqueror and the Queen continued to walk, almost saunter through the corridors, the Queen caught sight of Thetis kneeling as all were. The Queen immediately threw a glance at her Lord to see if her Lord was eyeing the kneeling redheaded personal attendant, but the Conqueror kept her gaze fixated ahead.
The Royal couple reached the entrance of the Great Hall, where the Conqueror halted her gaits, looking down on her subjects, men, women, and children kneeling before her.
From behind one of the pillars, Cynna cautiously peeped at the Conqueror. Common sense led her to believe that it was best for her to stay out of the Conqueror's sight. From her hiding place she saw the wild, glaring eyes and the wired, hulky, pumped up body and she realized she was witnessing the infamous blood-lust that up until that point she'd almost succeeded in convincing herself was a legend created for the sole purpose of invoking fear. Her mind quickly made the connection between what she was seeing and what she would face once Athena returned and a shiver ran down her spine.
"Subjects of the Realm!" the Conqueror addressed them, "The threat over the province of Corinth has been lifted. You have demonstrated great courage and resilience in the face of danger, and maintained superb order and restraint in spite of the peril posed against your lives and the lives of your families. I stand before you proud and content for having set my home and the foundations of this great Realm amongst you fine citizens of Corinth ! Rise!"
The subjects stood up with pride, admiration, and gratitude thudding in their hearts.
"All hail to the Lord Conqueror!" a spontaneous outburst erupted from the crowd.
"Hail the Lord Conqueror!" the crowd echoed with great enthusiasm.
"All hail to the Queen!" another cry came from a different direction.
"Hail the Queen!" the crowd roared.
The Conqueror and the Queen resumed their walk towards the Imperial chambers as the Queen's ladies in waiting walked behind them. As they were climbing up the stairs, the Queen beckoned one of her ladies in waiting and told her, "Go to the dungeons and release her Grace Princess Terreis, her Grace Princess Sieglinde and Lady Cyrene from their confinements. Have the Imperial Guard Commander send word of my Lord's victory to Athens and have him assign one of his men to supervise the dispersal of our subjects to their homes. Tell him that our subjects are not to see the dead on the palace grounds, for no one, least of all children, need ever be exposed to such horrors."
"Of course, Majesty," the Queen's servant confirmed.
The Queen gazed at her Lord and her breath suddenly became labored and her breasts, though covered completely by the royal Amazon attire she was wearing, were conspicuously rising and falling in heaves. "My Lord and I are not to be disturbed before breakfast tomorrow."
"Yes, Majesty," the servant meekly murmured, curtsied before the Royal couple and went about her business.
The Conqueror and the Queen entered the Imperial chambers and stood facing each other in silence, as though they had forgotten how to talk to one another.
"You have acted in your capacity as Regent most admirably, my Lady," the Conqueror said, her eyes wildly scintillating in the dimly lit chamber.
"Thank you, my Lord," the Queen replied and modestly lowered her gaze to rest on her Lord's belt and the whip-handle dangling from it. She wished to comment about her Lord's battle on the palace grounds but she found herself speechless – there were simply no words for it.
After some time had slipped between them without words, the Conqueror turned and went to the bath-chamber within the Imperial suite. Through the chamber walls, the Queen could hear the muffled sounds of the Conqueror's grooms greeting their Master and the sliding sounds of the sheathed sword being removed from her Lord's thigh, the metallic clanking sounds of the breastplate being taken off and the metallic clinking chainmail being pulled off, then the gauntlets and the greaves. She heard their footfalls nearing the bath-chamber door, next she heard them tapping across the Imperial bedchamber. Shortly after they appeared from behind the opened doors, in the antechamber genuflecting before her one after the other as they passed her by, carrying in their arms all the tools of war, taking them back to the armory, no doubt, to be cleaned, oiled, honed and polished, she thought. Her eyes followed them fastidiously till she spotted the groom holding the Conqueror's whip.
"Leave it here," she told him.
The young man was puzzled, but he hid it well as he placed the Conqueror's whip on a table and continued on his way out of the Imperial chambers and join his fellow grooms on their way to the armory.
Alone, the Queen thought with a small sigh, finally they were alone. She closed her eyes and allowed the tension of that terrible day to fade away from her body and mind. She knew well what was expected of her and she had to prepare herself for what was about to come just as her Lord had had to prepare before setting out to war. This was her craft, her mastery, her skills, and her field.
She began to disrobe. Her ladies in waiting, she thought, couldn't prepare her for what she was about to face and receive, in the same way that her Lord's grooms had prepared her Lord before her mission. She freed her breasts from their confinement and in her mind's eye, images of her Lord commanding the most feared beasts in nature with a whip flashed before her eyes, and she licked her swollen lips with delicious anticipation.
When she unbuckled her belt and pulled down her skirt, she heard a splash of water coming from the bath-chamber. Her Lord, she thought, had disrobed of her dark blue chiton, black leather trousers, and breeches and was now leisurely soaking her strong chiseled body in the warm scented water. She imagined it in her head. It had been so long since she had clapped her eyes on her Lord's robust nakedness.
When she was naked, the Queen washed her face in the basin then ran a scented piece of moist cloth over her body. She then took a small polished sheet of pure silver so to see her reflection being mirrored back, and held it close to her features. She mixed her oily red color and delicately and meticulously accentuated the natural color of her lips, careful not to smear it outside the outline of her lips. It would please her Lord, she thought as she smiled to herself.
Another image came to her when she brushed her golden hair, the image of her Lord standing before her on the palace grounds, covered in the blood of her enemies and the massive beasts cuddling against her, seeking her Lord's affection and licking the blood off of her, grooming her. Her Lord was more than a Lion; her Lord was the king of Lions, nay, the Conqueror of Lions. That notion made desire tingle all over her body.
Next, the Queen unbuckled her collar from around her thigh and fastened it around her neck. Her mind presented her with another memory – Her Lord wielding her sword and the way her body had moved to evade her opponents' strikes, and the mighty smites that her Lord had delivered, such powerful blows with utter control and dominance, like a dance of war that her Lord had known all the foreseeable steps to. And when she took a small knife to trim the golden patch between her legs, she realized how wet and slick she had gotten. It had been too long since last she had been one flesh with her Lord and her passions knew no limits.
Her Lord was beleaguered by battle-lust; perhaps more than her Lord had ever been before, the Queen knew, as she rubbed scented oil into the sensitive flesh to preen her womanhood. Nothing mattered, she thought. Not a thing on earth mattered at that moment; not the disagreement about the marriage, not her Lord's alleged infidelities, not the Realm, not her own guilt, not even their family. Nothing mattered but what would soon take place in the Imperial bedchamber, their place of worship - their temple.
When she was ready, Gabrielle waited on her knees before the bed, trembling.
The Conqueror emerged from the bathroom after the long immersion in the soothing water, well scrubbed from the filth of war. Donned in her long, brocade, dark robe, the Conqueror strode slowly into the bedchamber.
Gabrielle gaze was buried in the ground. She didn't need to look up or to listen in order to know that her Lord had entered the bedchamber. She could sense her Lord's despotic presence thickening the air and sucking all light and sanguineness. Her heart thumped so rowdily in her chest that she believed it climbed up and lodged itself in her throat.
Large feet invaded Gabrielle's range of sight. She could imagine, as she had done so many times in past years, how her Lord looked like casting an enormous, lofty shadow over her, the only shadow in the world that cast heat.
Dark blue glare hovered over the chamber and landed on the whip, resting on the desk then arcing downwards. It was late and her woman was already there. The Conqueror observed the body at her feet, and discerned the minor changes it sustained over the years since the first time she had gorged on the sweet, tender flesh. It was still tight, firm and even better-toned. The Conqueror leaned down, roved rough fingers through the golden hair and with a violent yank upwards, forced Gabrielle's head up and the green, subdued eyes to pay heed.
A long, peremptory finger directed to the bed.
Gabrielle got up quickly so as not to keep her Lord waiting and laid her body atop the bed, like an offering on an altar. As she brushed a glance and observed her Lord, she knew in her soul that something was amiss, perverse. At first, she thought perhaps her Lord had already satisfied her battle-lust with other women, but it couldn't have been. She could see battle-lust cascading down her Lord's form in gushing currents .
Still, it seemed frightfully known to her. She was facing the ruthless Master of many years ago, however; not the one that had branded the insignia into her shoulder-blade, but the utterly indifferent one that had touched her dispassionately, and had remained impervious, as if engaging in some benign task rather than taking all kinds of sexual pleasures.
"On your stomach," an even, abstained voice ordered her.
Gabrielle turned over to lie on her stomach, hoping to feel the lash of her Lord's whip soon. When it did not come, she lifted her head and turned it in order to see, but a rough hand pushed her head down into the sheets.
Gabrielle fixated her gaze on her Lord's shadow, which was cast on the western wall of the bedchamber, and saw her Lord parting her robe open, not fully discarding it. Soon after she felt her Lord stepping forward and felt her Lord's robe tickle her feet. Then a pair of large hands moored themselves into the sides of her hips and her hips were lifted upwards to fit her Lord's height.
And like that, her womanhood was filled. The act was no more than a vertical rending devoid of any expression of emotion, neither gentle nor violent. Her Lord paid no attention to any of her bodily tokens, save for the crevice her Lord was using.
It couldn't have been more than seven or eight trenchant thrusts before a strained, stifled grunt was emitted and Gabrielle felt her Lord withdrawing out of her, leaving much to be desired. Disappointment wasn't the word for it.
The ache in Gabrielle's body was nothing compared with the wounding ache in her soul.
She heard her Lord staggering to her feet, than trudging towards her favorite armchair by the fire and slumping into it.
Gabrielle did not move right away. She harbored hope that her Lord would return to bed, but a few moments later she heard deep, even breathing coming from the armchair. Her Lord had fallen asleep, without even touching the food that had been brought up.
Absolute consternation overwhelmed the Queen. Profound, unspeakable, unimaginable fear and terror gutted her. She had never been more frightened in all her life except for when on route back from Persia many years ago when she'd thought her Lord had died of the sweats.
A tempest of thoughts swept through her mind when tremendous pain throbbed everywhere in her body, inside and out. Her Lord had not and would not forgive her.
She moved to occupy her side of their bed and rolled her body into a tight orb, hugging her legs.
The only time in their shared past that her Lord was able to control her battle-lust was when the Queen had been with child and her Lord had returned from Cyra after quelling the mutiny lead by Nobleman Perous, whose child she had saved. Back then, her Lord had been loving and it had been only with her help that her Lord had managed to arrest her brutal lust so as not to cause injury to her pregnant Queen and unborn child. Her Lord was lost to her. She did not deserve forgiveness and her Lord had never been forgiving.
The Queen clung to hope that perhaps her Lord had simply been too tired. After all, she thought, her Lord had fought in Thessaly then had ridden all the way back to Corinth and had fought against Likos' men. Perhaps it had simply been extreme fatigue after recent grueling events.
The next morning the Queen woke up alone in bed. She got up and went to her Lord's armchair, only to discover it empty. Her Lord had already gone out to start her day.
She put on her gown to cover her naked body when a knock on the doors to the Imperial chambers drew her attention to them. Her ladies in waiting arrived to attend her and prepare her for her day.
Her ladies in waiting walked into the Imperial chambers, approached their Mistress and curtsied before her.
“Good morning, ladies,” the Queen greeted them.
“A warm bath is ready for your Majesty,” one of them told her.
When the Queen finished bathing herself, she wrapped a dry towel around her body and went into the bedchamber.
“Is my Lord waiting for me in the Dining Hall?” she asked.
The ladies looked mutely at one another before one of them said, “The Lord Conqueror has already eaten breakfast and is currently in the dungeons, conducting an inquest, interrogating the traitors imprisoned.”
The Queen tried to hide her disappointment. “Dress me,” she requested with a dry mouth, holding her chin up.
The Queen's ladies in waiting exchanged looks between them for the second time that morning. Years in the Queen's service had taught them that for several days after the Conqueror would return from the battlefield, the Queen would insisted on dressing herself without their assistant, not allowing a soul to catch sight of her naked form, and they had all known what their Mistress was trying to keep hidden.
Lady Astraea took the towel off the Queen's body while two other ladies in waiting brought a beautiful frock out from the closet to dress the Queen in. When the Queen's body was exposed, the ladies saw not a single mark on her bare figure.
Upon seeing the unblemished skin, they all knew there was something wrong. The despondent expression on their Mistress's face and her tense body confirmed their suspicions.
Lady Astraea began to dress the Queen, and when she tied the laces of the frock at the Queen's back she felt compelled to say with a motherly tone of voice, “A nice stroll in the fresh air after breakfast would do your Majesty a world of good.”
Inwardly, the Queen knew that all the fresh air the world would not change a thing.
“I wish to see my daughter,” she told them.
“Yes, Majesty,” they all murmured and once the Queen was fully dressed they all made their way to Princess Terreis' chambers.
When the Queen entered Princess Terreis' chambers, the child was brought to her. The Queen picked her daughter up in her arms and held her tightly against her body to the point where little Terreis began to fear that something was wrong with her mother. As the Queen held her daughter in her arms, her heart longed for her eldest, who had always given her great succor. She couldn't help but worrying for Princess Athena's safety on her long journey at sea to the Nordic Lands. Princess Sieglinde had told her that it would take over a moon to get from Corinth to the Nordic Lands. The Queen thought it was too long and too dangerous. Many lose their lives at sea, not by storm or by the waves, but by diseases. It would be awhile before she would receive word from her firstborn.
“Mother, my Sire came to visit with me this morning,” Terreis said when the Queen put her down.
“My Lord, your Sire, returned yesterday and defeated our enemies,” the Queen smiled, immensely proud, and watched as her daughter nodded her head with joy.
“My Sire said that the lions helped,” Terreis began to laugh, but the Queen's eyes began to weld up with unshed tears.
“Be sure in your heart constantly that my Lord, your Sire bears us great love and will protect us always, sweetheart,” the Queen said and her voice quivered.
Meanwhile, down below, in the foulest place in the Corinthian palace, the Conqueror was interrogating Sirus and his sons in one of the torture chambers, not far from cells where the rest of the prisoners, Likos and his family and household staff and the rest of Sirus' family and household staff, were kept. The Conqueror wanted all of them to be within hearing distance from the torture chamber, so that they would not miss a single scream or whimper stemming out of pain.
In the torture chamber, a sizable stony chamber, there were no windows, not a ray of light and no hope of any kind. The torches flickered against the mothy, sooty stonewalls and filthy straw was scattered across the flagstone floor to absorb the blood and the feces. Chains were fixed to the walls, stained with dried blood of former prisoners, mutely testifying to the horrors of past anguish and savagery. In each corner of the bleak chamber stood several barrels that contained fetid water.
The Conqueror sat on a large wooden chair with a high backrest and spacious armrests, which stood on a dais. Four Imperial guardsmen stood to each side of the chair. To her left stood a table displaying an array of knives, hammers, brands and pincers and on her right an iron barrel with burning cinders glowing inside.
Sirus and his two sons were naked and chained to three heavy crosses in front of the Conqueror. To each side of them stood the Empire's professional torturers, whose sole trade was to cause as much pain as humanly possible. Next to where they stood, sat two more tables upon which rested tools of torture.
"You will answer all my questions," the Conqueror said to Sirus . "For each question that you fail to answer, your sons will suffer the same torment that I'll inflict upon you." The Conqueror leaned into the backrest, seeming almost lukewarm. She knew that Sirus would be quicker to break if he was made privy to the torture of his sons. "Shall we begin?" the Conqueror asked and rubbed her hands together.
Sirus tried to struggle against the chains.
"When did you first meet to conspire against me?" the Conqueror asked.
Sirus turned his head away and remained silent.
"The hard way, then," the Conqueror mattered and rose to her feet. She took a pincer and approached Sirus.
With her, the other torturers took the pincers on their tables.
The Conqueror clamped the pincer on Sirus' fingernail and yanked it out, leaving the finger bare and bleeding. A horrible scream escaped Sirus' lips. The other torturers repeated the Conqueror's actions on Sirus' sons.
When the screams subsided, Sirus spat at the Conqueror's face.
The Conqueror did not lose her temper, but remained in perfect control. She would not kill him so easily. She wiped his saliva off her face.
"When did you first meet to conspire against me?" the Conqueror repeated the question and shoved the iron branding rods into the flaming embers.
The Conqueror had to repeat that question until Sirus and his sons had no fingernails left.
"About a moon after the Royal wedding," he finally answered, thinking that piece of information wasn't worth keeping for such unbearable pain.
"Whose idea was it?" came the Conqueror's next question.
"Likos'" he was quick to confirm the Conqueror's suspicions. Obviously, he figured Likos wasn't worth his suffering.
"Who else was attending this meeting of yours?"
"Drusus," he quickly answered that question as well.
"Not much loyalty in you, is there?! But of course I already knew that. I elevated you to a nobleman and you betrayed me in return. What did Likos say to you that convinced you to join him?"
Sirus seemed only too eager to reiterate Likos' words, thinking it would humiliate the Conqueror.
"Likos said that the Queen no longer let you in between her legs and if you could not control your wife then you were too weak to control the Realm. He was also adamant about reminding us that you were but a woman who had to squat in order to piss!"
He waited to see the Conqueror become livid, but what he saw was the Conqueror smirk. He realized that the Conqueror had just taught him a lesson in self-discipline.
The Conqueror brought the pincer to his genitals. When he felt the cold metal against his privates, Sirus cringed. The Conqueror's smile widened on her lips when she glanced at Sirus' seasoned, shriveled member and asked him wickedly, "What are you worrying about?! It's not like you'll ever use it again, lest you intend on swiving the rats in your cell when you await your execution… After all, it is the suitable measure to fit a rat."
"No!! Please, no!" he yelled frantic, his eyes popping out of his head in horror.
"Calm down," the Conqueror smiled a smile that made the blood in his veins freeze, "I will not cut your jewels…" she briefly looked down a second time then added, "such as they are, just yet. I shall cut them off in public for all to see."
Cold sweat ran in rivulets down Sirus' forehead and hairy back.
"Is the iron burning hot already?" the Conqueror asked her fellow torturers.
"Yes, Majesty," they replied.
"Very good. Shall we proceed?!" the Conqueror asked and took out the orange-glowing branding rod from the fire, then turned to Sirus and ordered him, "Name your coconspirators."
He wildly shook his head from side to side.
For the next candle-mark or so, the Conqueror left two dozen branding marks on his body, until it was covered with bloodied boils and swollen, mangled skin and flesh. His sons both suffered the same. Their screams and yells struck pity even in the Imperial guardsmen present. From the cells nearby, the cries and whaling of his women could be heard loud and clear. Wounded men in battle sounded differently than men being tortured. The only thing akin to it was the screams that had come from Likos' men who had met the Conqueror's lions.
Whenever any of the tortured lost consciousness, the torturers would throw squalid water over the prisoners so that they would regain it and suffer their agonizing pain fully.
During the horrific interrogation, Sirus gave up a few names of weaponry traders who had dealt arms to him.
The Conqueror knew that there had to be more. Sensing that Sirus had reached his limit for the day, the Conqueror ordered him to be cut down from the cross, to be returned back to his cell and his hands to be manacled so that he wouldn't be tempted to kill himself, thus denying the Conqueror her pleasure.
After his beaten body had hit the muddied, dirty floor, the Conqueror went to stand over his scathed body, unbuckled her leather trousers, and lowered them down just slightly to expose her massive phallus. The Conqueror closed her fingers around it and waved it above his head. “This here is my measure. This here is the measure I give,” the Conqueror shouted then pushed her pelvis forward and relieved herself on him, making his open wounds sting as if spikes were scraping his flesh.
"Does it look like I'm squatting?!" her voice roared all the while.
It was the day that ushered dark times over the Realm. The Realm's soldiers were dispatched to arrest the men whose names Sirus had mentioned, to be brought to Corinth and face the Conqueror's merciless judgment.
A short while after noon, Thetis requested an audience with the Queen.
"Majesty," she curtsied after she was shown in. "The Lord Conqueror requests your presence in the Great Hall to receive the bereaving families of the two hundred Imperial Guardsmen who had fallen, protecting the palace."
The Queen's ladies in waiting dressed the Queen in her regal attire and placed her crown atop her head, then escorted her to the Great Hall at the bequest of her Lord.
The Queen entered the Great Hall. All present bowed and curtsied before her as she made her way to her throne till she seated herself next to the Conqueror.
"Loyal subjects of the Realm!" the Conqueror addressed them. "I have gathered you all here today to pay my respect to the courage of your loved ones; your husbands, your fathers, your sons and your brothers. I owe you all a debt of gratitude for your great sacrifice and theirs. Know that their loss has not been in vain. In their deaths they have bequeathed us life. The price you've all paid shall never be forgotten."
The Queen saw tears washing the faces of sad women and children and she could not stop her own for she had suffered a loss, as well.
The Conqueror continued, "Lift up your heads and be proud of your men as I am. They exhibited extraordinary and exemplary bravery, fighting few against many; their hearts strong in the face of dire circumstances and their resolve in performing their duty remained unwavering. They all died honorable deaths protecting their families and mine. There is nothing that I can give you that would ease your pain for their passing, but I will grant you all lands and handsome compensation so that you will all be provided for, for the rest of your lives. You are all our family from this day forth, and I vow before you all that those who plotted and orchestrated the events that led to their deaths will meet my justice. I shall be your avenger!"
The Conqueror and the Queen stood up. The Conqueror took off her seal-ring from around her finger and the Queen followed the Conqueror's action and took her crown off her head and her seal-ring from around her finger. The Royals left the symbols of their station on their thrones before stepping down from the dais. They walked amongst the grieving families as though they were their subjects' equals.
The Queen saw her Lord asking the family members for their fallen loved one's name and the Conqueror would remember the soldier and tell his wife and children stories about him and how good a warrior he'd been. It amazed the Queen how involved and caring her Lord was and how patient. She noticed the gratitude on the mourners' faces, for the acknowledgment and the participation of the Great Ruler of the world in their grief.
After the sun had set, supper was served in the Great Hall. The Conqueror and the Queen sat amongst the grieving families and not at their thrones as they ate.
The Conqueror was immersing in bathwater in the bath-chamber while Gabrielle was waiting, kneeling on the floor as she had done the night before. Battle-lust had not been spent yet, and the Queen hoped that that night her Lord would finally bestow her dark power on her. Her Lord hadn't spoken a word to her since supper in the Great Hall had ended.
When the Conqueror finally appeared in their bedchamber, Gabrielle instinctively braced herself.
Alas, the Conqueror took from her no more than she had taken from her the previous night. The act itself was over in mere moments. The Conqueror never even pressed her body against hers. Gabrielle felt as if to her Lord she might as well have been anyone. Unsatisfied, Gabrielle's fear grew stronger.
That night the Conqueror fell asleep in her armchair again, leaving Gabrielle alone in their bed. It was deliberate, Gabrielle knew, the Conqueror would not sleep beside her.
The next day, while the Conqueror continued interrogating Sirus and his sons, she was informed that her Legions had won the battle in the province of Rome and that Drusus and his family and household had been captured alive and were presently on route to Corinth .
The Conqueror ordered all three former noblemen's possessions to be confiscated.
When darkness fell, the Conqueror's use of Gabrielle's body did not vary in any way from the previous couple of nights.
Before the Conqueror achieved her release, the Queen extricated herself from beneath her and turned around to lie prone on her back. Her tearing eyes sought signs of emotions in her Lord's cold ones but there were none to find.
"Kiss my breasts," her broken voice begged while her hands ran enticingly over her own breasts to provoke her Lord. "Caress my thighs," her voice continued to plead as her hands slid down her taut stomach and over her inner thighs in an effort to elicit if only a sliver of warmth, of care of any kind. “Give me pain,” Gabrielle choked on her tears when she saw that the Conqueror was not responding. Her chin began to tremor as she prayed for mercy, "Speak to me, for my soul cannot bear your silence any longer." Sobbing uncontrollably, she rose to sit on the bed, naked in her need and desperation.
The Conqueror stood in front of her stoic and unmoved.
Gabrielle climbed off the bed, went to the Conqueror's desk where the Conqueror's whip had been resting untouched and unused since one of her grooms had placed it there. She brought the whip to the Conqueror, and then knelt at her feet, offering the whip to her.
She tilted her head backwards and beheld the Conqueror with entreating eyes. "I beseech you to possess me with it," she implored, her lips contorting downwards and deep sorrow grooving her features.
But all her pleas fell on deaf ears.
"I beg of you, tell me you love me . Take your pleasure," she grasped the edge Conqueror's robe and tugged it as if she could shake loose a flicker of sentiment from the cold Ruler towering over her. "Restate me as your Queen. Reclaim me as your wife."
The Conqueror backed away from her without speaking a single word and turned to walk to her armchair.
"Be my Lord again, please!" Gabrielle exclaimed, out of her senses with complete devastation. However, facing the Conqueror's indifference, her heart and soul fell to ruins that night.
The Conqueror did not turn to face her again. She yanked her robe from Gabrielle's clutch and continued to walk to her armchair.
With war, it was easier for the Conqueror to harden her heart and it was now cloistered away, far away from Gabrielle's reach.
After that night, Gabrielle could not keep on lying to herself that it had merely been fatigue any longer. When she woke up the following morning, alone in their bed once more, she remained lying there, lifeless.
Her ladies in waiting pleaded with her to rise, but their Mistress kept lying on her side unmoving, with her eyes open, staring at nothing, giving them no indication that she even realized that they had been speaking to her.
Lady Astraea sent one of the ladies to fetch Lady Satrina and when Lady Satrina failed to reach her friend and Mistress, she sent for the Conqueror's mother, Lady Cyrene.
Lady Cyrene tried words and gentle supplications but to no avail. Eventually, she was resorted to gentle shakes to make the Queen rise.
The Queen finally lurched upwards and sat up in the large bed.
She looked at them as if she was surprised to see them there, and weakly muttered, "I have lost my Lord's love."
Several of the Queen's ladies in waiting covered their mouths in dismay.
"With respect," Lady Satrina rushed to respond. "Your Majesty must be mistaken. It cannot be true," she whispered in panic.
"Oh, But it is…" the Queen spoke as if already resigned to the truth of her assertion.
"Majesty, perhaps you're unwell…" Lady Cyrene suggested and touched a worried hand to the Queen's forehead.
"There is nothing wrong with me," the Queen insisted. "My Lord does not love me anymore."
"How do you know?" asked Lady Astraea.
The Queen sighed deeply and boiling tears streamed down her distraught features. "A wife knows," she replied with profound sorrow.
And then there was silence. No one could confront the Queen's argument. The Queen got out of bed and went to her cupboard. She rummaged through the many garments that were hanging there for long moments in search for something till she found what she was looking for. She took out the plain cotton-made dress she had received to wear when she had entered the Conqueror's service as a body slave.
She disrobed of her silk nightgown and dressed herself in it, much to the shock of the ladies present.
She then took off her collar from around her thigh and wore it again around her neck. "Ladies," she said to them, "You are hereby dismissed from my service."
All of them were too stunned to speak, as the Queen wandered off out of the Imperial chambers and walked through the palace's corridors.
As the grief stricken Queen paced in the corridors aimlessly, a few of the household servants encountered her on their way to their daily tasks. They could not hide their shock when they saw their Mistress walking around in her servitude garments. Nevertheless, they all bowed and curtsied before her, mumbling in utter confusion, "Your Majesty."To which their Mistress scolded them, "Get up! What are you all doing?!" Her voice sounded mortified. "I am not your Queen, do you hear?! I am no one's Queen." She went on to rant to all who would listen, "I am my Lord's humble servant."
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