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 story “Lord Conqueror of the Realm”. I strongly recommend you read it first because in this story there are references to events that took place in “Lord Conqueror of the Realm.” Here is where you can find it:
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!
Queen of the Realm
Written by WarriorJudge
The day Princess Athena was expected to return to the Amazon lands, nine days after she had left, Queen Gabrielle was anxious and couldn't keep still. She asked everyone she encountered that morning whether they had seen her daughter, so much so that it bordered on harassment. Nevertheless, her Amazon sisters received the Queen's somewhat erratic behavior with kindness and understanding.
Closer to noon, the Realm's future Ruler returned and went straight to the drilling field to first meet with her mother. Amidst the dwindling fog, the restless Queen caught sight of Princess Athena walking towards her. She stepped off the drilling field and scuttled towards her, with the Imperial guards that had been stalking her every movement for the past days following her.
"Majesty," Princess Athena bowed before the Queen.
"Your Grace," greeted the Queen, shining brightly with happiness and relief. She then turned to the Imperial guards. "The Realm thanks you for your services. Report back to your commanding officer at the Thracian border for further duties."
"By your will, Majesty," they bowed before her and left the premises.
Princess Athena offered her arm to her mother, which the Queen gladly took, and they walked together with arms intertwined to the Queen's hut for a private conversation.
As soon as they were behind the hut's closed door, they embraced. Even though she was keen to hear everything that had happened in Corinth, it took the Queen awhile before she was able to release her beloved daughter from her hold.
"Would you like to eat something, first? I could have some…"
But Princess Athena would have none of that. "I shall eat later. I know how eager you must be to hear about my visit with the Conqueror," she said and seated herself atop a chair.
The Queen poured some fresh water into a cup, handed it to her daughter, then seated herself on the bed, facing Athena.
"I trust it would please you to know that the Conqueror seemed to have healed completely from her injuries," Athena said and emptied the cup.
The Queen placed her palm over her heart and let out a sigh of relief. "That is good news."
"I gave her your letter."
"Thank you," the Queen smiled and with a gaze laden with anticipation she asked, "Did my Lord give you a letter for me?"
Athena shook her head in the negative. Her features showed great sorrow, as if it had been her fault.
The Queen swallowed and briefly lowered her eyes lugubriously as she took the insult.
"My visit to her was unexpected, and I left at daybreak for I was anxious to return to you. Perhaps there wasn't enough time…" The last thing Athena wanted was to defend the Conqueror. In her mind, the Conqueror wasn't worthy of such consideration. However, her mother was worthy and that was the best excuse she could invent.
The Queen scoffed indignantly. "Please," she whispered morosely, wordlessly asking her generous daughter to stop making up lies so to better her mood. "My Lord won't write to me," she stated what both knew to be the truth.
"I'm sorry," Athena offered after some time had passed in silence. She wasn't sure whether she was apologizing to her mother for the lies she had been telling her thus far out of kindness and to spare her mother's grief or to let her mother know that she empathized with her for the pain that the Conqueror had been causing her.
"No matter, I shall keep writing to my Lord. After all, my Lord cannot ignore me forever - " the Queen finally said with renewed hope.
Princess Athena wasn't as sure.
"Now tell me everything that happened," the Queen requested eagerly and did her best to present a strong front to her daughter.
Princess Athena cleared her throat. "We had some words," she said and wouldn't meet her mother's gaze.
"What kind of words?" the Queen pressed.
"Harsh ones," Athena replied, "Please don't make me repeat what was said, for I don't wish to upset you. Suffice it to say that I profoundly resent her treatment of you and I have voiced my… reservations to her Majesty in less than a respectable manner."
Queen Gabrielle moved to sit on the edge of the bed and placed her hand over Athena's knee. "Sweetheart," she spoke softly, "words cannot express how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I am grateful to you for the love you bear me and for caring for me as much as you do. However, I ask that you pay my Lord nothing but your utmost respect always."
"I cannot in good conscience regret or apologize for something I know in my heart was right," Athena argued.
"But it wasn't right. We may not always understand my Lord's mind or actions. Nevertheless, it has no bearing on the matter, for regardless of what transpired between my Lord and me, you must be deferential towards my Lord. Even when there is a conflict between you, especially when you believe in your heart that you are right and my Lord is mistaking, you must voice your opinion without fear, but you must do so reverently. You owe my Lord, your Sire, your respect, as do I. She is our Sovereign Lord, and head of this family," the Queen said staunchly.
Athena rested her elbows over her knees and rested her chin atop her knuckles. She considered her mother's words to her, and though she was angry with her Sire still, she found some reason and veracity in her mother's argument.
"I understand, mother," the flaxen-haired princess said and rose to her feet.
"I am proud of the person you've grown up to be," the Queen smiled, then lifted herself upwards to stand on her tiptoes and placed a loving kiss on her daughter's cheek.
"Oh, and most importantly," Athena said before heading out to fill her belly with a hearty meal.
"What is it?" asked the Queen.
"Lady Satrina requested me to tell you that the Conqueror suffers as well," Athena said and searched her mother's countenance for a sign of surprise, but was soon disappointed.
"I already know that," the Queen chuckled and it was Princess Athena who ended up being surprised.
Only then did it dawn on her how profound and intricate the bond between her parents was, and just how much of it she didn't understand and how little she really knew about it.
Five moons had passed since the Queen of the Realm first came to the Amazon lands. Winter was at its zenith. The skies were sullen and darker. Some of the trees lost their leafy attire. The cold reached to the bone and sent chills throughout the body.
Princess Athena awoke to find her mother taking her morning tea. She got off the cot in her mother's hut, washed her face in the basin and joined her mother for some hot, fragrant tea.
"You look tired," the Queen said over the rim of her cup.
"Well… You had one of those dreams again last night, which kept me awake of the better part of it," Athena mumbled, not entirely woken up yet or else she would have come up with a better answer instead of the blatant truth.
"Those dreams?" questioned the Queen.
"You know… those dreams," Athena emphasized with a knowing raise of an eyebrow till the realization broke over her mother's blushed face.
Mortified, the Queen nearly choked on her tea and commenced a series of violent coughs. Athena darted off her seat and assisted her mother by gently rapping against her back. She was now fully awake.
"I had no control over it. It's just that I – "
"You miss your Lord… I know," Athena finished her mother's sentence. "I'm sorry, mother. I'm a light sleeper," she soon apologized.
"It's widely believed that my Lord sleeps with one eye opened. In this aspect you take after my Lord," the Queen commented.
"Yes, I've gathered as much," Athena smirked. "I best cover my ears with a pillow when I sleep from now on," she said and took a mental note.
That day Queen Gabrielle spent in the company of Queen Melosa, practicing battle maneuvering in the vast forests with the entire Amazon warriors at Queen Gabrielle's command. It was the most complex military exercise yet and the largest in scale.
When it ended right after dusk, Queen Melosa congratulated Queen Gabrielle for her brilliant performance. "Your prowess, Majesty, is remarkable to say the least. You have become a true Amazon warrior and even truer and greater Amazon sister and future Queen."
The Amazon warriors around the two Queens cheered enthusiastically in Queen Gabrielle's honor, as did Princess Athena, who took part in the military exercise.
After supper, as had become her custom, she went to the Shamaness' hut. On that particular night, her longing for her lover and Lord was profuselypotent, for earlier that day she had celebrated one of her greatest triumphs, an achievement which she knew her Lord was in a position to judge and value, but she hadn't been there to see it. She had successfully commanded an army of warriors and she pined for her Lord's approval and appreciation.
She knocked on the Shamaness' door and was invited to come in.
"I was expecting you, Gabrielle," the Shamaness greeted her with a hearty smile. "I knew that tonight of all nights you'd need an attentive ear. Please, have a seat," the older woman gestured with her hand, and Queen Gabrielle took her seat on the ground, opposite the Shamaness.
"Why tonight of all nights?" the Queen asked as she folded her legs.
"You already know the answer," the Shamaness replied thoughtfully.
"True, but I wanted to hear your answer," responded the Queen.
"Today you commanded an army and the chief commander of the vastest army ever assembled on this earth wasn't there to partake in your glory."
The Queen wasn't sure what she should say, but that night the Shamaness decided she wouldn't enable the woman, whom she had grown to adore, to hide behind silence.
"The Lord Conqueror left you here without granting you her support in any of your endeavors here," she insisted.
The Queen twirled the green diamond ring around her finger. "My Lord has an Empire to rule, and hasn't the time to dwell here."
"I assume that the Lord Conqueror has left her throne in Corinth for longer periods of time in the past, like when she conquered the Kingdom of Chin," the Shamaness held.
"My Lord was absent for many moons," Queen Gabrielle had to admit.
"Besides, the Lord Conqueror hasn't come here to visit with you, not once."
That argument was unassailable.
The Queen gazed pensively at the play of light reflecting from her cherished ring. "It was so difficult…" she finally let out almost lethargically.
"What was?" asked the Shamaness.
"To maintain focus while I commanded the army today. Throughout my stay here my mind has been so preoccupied. I do not know how my Lord maintains her focus on a real battlefield for moons upon moons, while I was barely able to maintain mine during a single day of exercise."
"Why do you think the Lord Conqueror didn't remain here with you?"
"It angered my Lord that I wished to stay here."
"Why do you think the Conqueror was angry with you for wanting to stay here with us?"
It was the question, the conundrum that baffled the Queen ever since the Conqueror had left her, and she nearly thought a hole in the ground trying to come up with an answer, but all her effort yielded nothing. "I cannot imagine… My Lord has always been so extraordinarily generous towards me. I've never wanted for anything. When I asked for the hospices and academies to be built, my Lord spared no expense."
"It was just a little spending and the Conqueror is the richest in the world."
"And yet, some rich people are misers. My Lord is far from it."
"A better example for her generosity towards you might be that when you asked that slavery be abolished and outlawed, the Lord Conqueror made it so at the expense of her convoluted relationship with the Realm's nobility and people of wealth."
The Queen steeled herself and offered no confirmation, but her resolve began to crack and fracture. She was exhausted and aching. She hardly had any more fight within her and her resistance reached its lowest point.
"Has the Conqueror ever refused you?" the Shamaness tried another venue. Queen Gabrielle's persistence in keeping her Lord’s secrets was commendable.
"The only thing my Lord truly ever refused me was more children," Gabrielle admitted.
"What was the Conqueror's reason?"
The Queen was reluctant to answer. Stating the true reason would more than imply the Conqueror's love for her. She was in a bind, wishing to speak freely on the one hand and wishing to hold her peace on the other hand.
Eventually she surrendered a vague enough answer, inwardly wishing that the Shamaness would understand. She was like a scrupled criminal who leaves a clue, hoping to get caught. "My Lord is quite protective of me."
“Of course the Conqueror is protective of you, so much I have seen when she threw herself on top of you when we were attacked and took three arrows that for sure would have killed you,” the Shamaness claimed.
"You mustn't read too much into it," Queen Gabrielle was quick to disparage, "It was nothing more than my Lord's warrior instincts."
"You don't honestly think that the Conqueror would place herself in harm's way for any one of her troops or commanders, do you?"
When Queen Gabrielle retreated into silence again, the Shamaness doubled her efforts persistently, like a dog on a scent, "Refusing you more children was the Conqueror's way of protecting you… Your life was in danger before…"
"I nearly died giving birth to her Grace."
The Shamaness smiled. “The Conqueror loves you.”
“Don’t say it. I beg you,” the Queen managed a defeated whisper.
“Why not? It is the truth. The Conqueror loves you enough to give your life precedence over securing her succession and over her own life.”
“I gave my Lord my word that I would never speak of her love for me.” Tears began to part with her tired eyes and roll down her face. She suddenly remembered Princess Lao-Ma’s advice to her before she and her Lord had gotten married ‘You must demand your future subjects’ respect’
“I have known of the Conqueror’s great love for you from the moment I saw her placing herself between you and the arrows. I just waited till you were ready to talk about it. Your promise to your Lord was never broken.” The Shamaness offered a cup of water to the Queen to calm her down.
Queen Gabrielle drank the water. She felt oddly relieved. “No one else seemed to notice.”
“Most people see what they want to see and don’t see what they cannot fathom. Mysia is infatuated with you. The only thing that prevents her from blatantly wooing you is fear of the Conqueror. She doesn’t see the great love you bear the Conqueror, and I venture to say you don’t see her clumsy yet subtle attempts to engross your attention and your favor. Almost all who know the Conqueror cannot even conceive that she is capable of love. That is why I was the only one that saw the Conqueror’s protecting you for what it was, an act of love.”
“No one can know. You must swear to me, if you bear any regard for me,” the Queen nearly pleaded.
“Of course I won’t. You have my word, dear and noble Gabrielle,” the Shamabess assured her.
The Queen sniffled and fresh tears welled up in her eyes. “No one knows my Lord as I do. When people look at my Lord, they see darkness, ruthlessness, heartlessness, lust and debauchery. They see a cold, vindictive, awe-striking, brilliant bloodthirsty beast. That perception my Lord has rightfully earned and it’s what enables her to rule. My Lord was driven by lust for power, but under her rule, people have law and order, access to health and education, and most importantly, peace.”
The Shamaness just sat and listened to the confessions of the Queen of the world, uninterrupted.
“But when I look at my Lord I see how gentle she is and how tender… and playful…” the Queen chuckled whilst silent tears kept trickling down her shimmering eyes. “Can you imagine the Destroyer of Nations being playful?! Sometimes, when she doesn't wish me to leave our bed my Lord hides my shoes.” The Queen wiped her tears on her sleeve. “I see fidelity. In all our years together, even when I was her body slave, she never so much as looked at another, let alone wandered elsewhere. I feel her warmth and her care, and her loving, generous heart… And when she laughs… I fall deeper into love with her.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Your keeping her love for you hidden from the world - ”
“My Lord demanded nothing. She asked and I agreed. Others mustn’t see what I see in her, or they’ll think her soft and weak,” the Queen argued vehemently.
“With deepest respect, Gabrielle, that’s where you’re wrong. I would have slept better at night had I not been aware of the Conqueror’s great love for you.”
Queen Gabrielle wore a baffled look on her wet face.
The Shamaness went on to say, “You've made the Lord Conqueror even more dangerous a creature than she has ever been. Do you understand how much more dangerous your love has made her?! So far she has been driven by lust alone. All it took to stop the Conqueror was surrender to her will. Now she is driven by an even more dangerous, more powerful emotion – love. If the world were to stand between the two of you, the Conqueror would destroy it and there’d be no stopping her. You have no idea, no concept of – “
“My Lord governs her actions and is the epitome of self-control,” Queen Gabrielle declared and rose to stand on her feet.
The Shamaness stood up as well and placed her hand over the Queen’s shoulder. “Please pardon me, Gabrielle. But consider this… the Conqueror never loses control?”
Queen Gabrielle wondered just how under control her Lord had been when she had killed the governor of Crete for touching her. He had met with an exceptionally gruesome death.
“I didn’t mean to upset you. The wise will see the love the Conqueror bears you, the fool will not. However, the wise wouldn’t rise against the Conqueror knowing that she is love rather than lust, and the fool wouldn’t pose any true threat to the Conqueror anyway.”
The Shamaness gave the Queen a lot to think about. She was overwhelmed and distraught.
“You are wrong regarding my Lord and I will prove it,” the Queen replied, confident about each and every word she spoke.
“You have nothing to prove to me, Queen Gabrielle, and I am sorry for any grief I might have caused you.”
A few candles burnt completely and melted away as the cold night progressed and inside the Shamaness’ hut it became darker. Queen Gabrielle reached the wooden door and rested her hand over the door handle, and just before she was about to bade the Shamaness goodnight, the Sahamness said to her, “Majesty, allow me to leave you with this final thought. The one thing the Conqueror ever refused you was conceiving more children. The Conqueror was motivated by fear of losing you. What do you think motivates her now?”
When she opened her door to her own hut, Queen Gabrielle decided she would leave for Corinth in two days.
When the Queen finally rested her head against the pillow after the long day she had had, she was too tired to think. She quickly succumbed to deep sleep as soon as she pulled the furs to cover her body.
Just before daybreak, when it was still dark outside, urgent knocks on the Queen’s hut, loud enough to raise the dead, startled the Queen and Princess Athena into fully sober wakefulness.
The Queen and the Princess looked at each other in surprise.
“Come in!” the Queen called as they got out of their beds.
“Majesty,” Mysia, accompanied by the Shamaness bowed before them, “Queen Melosa was murdered in her bed during the night.”
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