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!
At the dead of night, the Conqueror awoke from her disturbed light slumber. Even in the realm of dreams, the matter of her Queen's safety wouldn't leave her alone, and so she waited till sunup and just observed her wife as she slept, thinking how precious she was to her and how beautiful and peaceful she looked and how much she had longed to have her close to her again as they once were before the Amazons.
When the Queen had told her that she had broken her heart, her own heart churned and ached, and when she'd felt her wife pushing her away, she was overcome with dread. What if the walls between couldn't be brought down? What if her wife's heart couldn't be mended? What if their union couldn't be reverted back to the way it was before? Now that her wife was Queen of the Amazons, what would the future hold in store for them? Just how much had her wife changed over these past moons? What price would she have to pay and what price would she be willing to pay?
When she saw the winter sunlight creeping under the crack beneath the door, she stroked her Queen's hair that she loved so much and admired how magnificently it framed her Queen's perfect features.
The Queen stirred in her arms and slowly revealed glittering green orbs.
“I was afraid to wake up to find out I had dreamt your return,” the Queen said and molded a strand of the Conqueror's long, smooth, raven-black hair.
“I'm here now,” the Conqueror said softly.
“I'll prepare us some hot tea and then I shall have Mysia gather all at the center of the village as you asked,” she said even though there was nothing she wanted more than to remain in bed, engulfed by her Lord's arms and warmth, if only a little longer.
Halfheartedly, she got out of bed and placed the kettle over the fire and wrapped her fur cloak over her form. Accompanied by her highly alert Lord, she exited the hut and met with the ashen morning sky and snow covered ground. She approached Mysia , who stood guard not far from her lodging, and ordered all Amazons be assembled at the village center.
Back inside the hut, Lord and Lady took their tea in silence. Silence didn't release them from its scathing talons when they each dressed into their regal attire with their backs turned to the other. When they turned back to face one another fully clothed, the Queen saw a God of War and the Conqueror saw a fierce Amazon Queen.
They walked together side by side to the village center, where their subjects awaited them.
“I was thinking about what you said last night, regarding who it might be,” the Queen broke the silence and adjusted the Queen's Labrys tucked in her belt. She hadn't gotten used to wearing a deadly weapon yet. “Could it be Antiope?”
“It is true that she had demonstrated her indignation towards the Realm and she's certainly not the only one, but on the other hand, she had shown loyalty to Queen Melosa,” the Conqueror replied and rested her hand over the pommel of her sword.
“Whoever is behind it has operated in secrecy thus far. They wouldn't have openly voiced any grievances towards us, and wouldn't have attracted any attention to themselves,” the Queen added and beheld her Lord's profile.
“A very wise observation,” the Conqueror complimented, very impressed.
“What are you going to say to them?” the Queen asked as they walked towards the high podium, their subjects bowing before them as they passed them by.
The Conqueror's senses were attuned and honed, and her attention masterfully divided. Her eyes never left the crowd as she walked by, searching for suspicious movements, malicious expressions and malevolent eyes.
The Conqueror delayed her reply. Only when they finished climbing up the case of stairs and reached the plain surface of the high podium, did she turn to her Queen and answer in a chillingly calm manner, “I shall put the fear of death in them.”
It was too late for the Queen to respond. Mysia approached them on the podium and encroached on their privacy.
“Majesty,” she bowed before the Conqueror then turned to greet the Queen, “My Queen.”
The fact that Mysia didn't follow the Realm's protocol for addressing a monarch wasn't lost on the Conqueror.
“Is everyone present?” the Queen asked.
“Yes, my Queen,” Mysia replied.
“No exception?” the Queen persisted.
“None, my Queen. I counted their heads myself,” Mysia replied.
“You did well, Mysia . Thank you,” the Queen smiled.
Mysia moved to stand behind the Royal couple.
In front of their subjects, the Conqueror removed her bow that hung over her shoulder and across her torso and held it in her right hand. She sent her left hand backwards to draw two arrows out of the quiver that rested against her back. She walked over to one of the podium's corners, where a high torch implanted into the floorboards stood burning, and lit up the arrowheads with fire.
The Amazon stood and regarded the Conqueror's curious actions in bewilderment and uneasiness, and awaited her words.
“Amazons, subjects of the Realm!” the Conqueror's sonorous voice bellowed all the way to the last Amazon standing at the back of the crowd, “There are murderers in your midst!”
A loud uproar rose from the wary, uncertain crowd.
“Silence!” the Conqueror's voice roared and order was renewed.
The Sovereign didn't have to wait long for the crowd to simmer down. “My Imperial Guard and my eleventh legion are surrounding your borders.” The Conqueror loaded the burning arrows onto her bow and stretched the string, “Before I entered Amazon lands, I ordered my army to swarm in here and slaughter you all should they see two burning arrows shot into the sky. Your entire Nation would be annihilated before noon, and history would remember you always as despicable traitors capable of stooping to murdering your own.”
Tension and fear thrived in the audience. Restless fidgeting movement looked like ripples in a sea of people. The chilling threat that volleyed out of the Conqueror's mouth was far worse that the winter's draft.
“With respect, Majesty, we have an agreement by which no soldier of the Realm will ever set foot on Amazon lands,” shouted the eldest council member from the crowed.
“That agreement is contingent upon one thing and one thing only, that you remain loyal subjects to the Realm. Her Majesty the Queen and I were attacked by someone standing here amongst you this very moment. You have proven to be disloyal to us, committing high treason punishable by death. It is my intention to put an end to this sorry insurrection. May no one mistake my meaning for being here,” the Conqueror rendered her minatory reply.
The Amazons looked at their Queen for salvation, but the Queen placed her faith in her Lord.
“I will spare you if the treacherous murderers reveal their identity and raise their arms high in the air, now!” the Conqueror said and as soon as her words left her mouth, from her elevated vantage point, her eyes scoured and rifled through the mass of women.
Heads turned sharply in all directions, seeking out raised arms, and frightened and accusing eyes cast glances all around.
The Conqueror stretched the string of the bow further and took aim at the general direction upwards toward the sky, but her inspecting stare never left the crowd.
When she saw what she was looking for, the Conqueror signaled her Queen, Mysia and three other warrior Amazons whom Mysia had trusted, to join her.
The Conqueror strode slowly, passing by row after row of Amazons, with all fearful gazes reverted to her, till she stopped at the row that was one before last.
She stood before three Amazons, leaned in and embedded her glaring eyes into their avoiding, horrified ones.
“State your names, Amazons,” the Conqueror ordered and gasping sounds and utterances of shock could be heard across the vast audience.
Facing the three Amazons, the Queen couldn't believe her eyes.
“Penthesilea, Majesty,” answered the first.
“Oreithyia, Majesty,” answered the second.
“Mitylene, Majesty,” replied the third.
The Queen was so astounded that for a moment she thought her Lord had made an error. She wasn't sure what made her Lord approach Mitylene in the first place.
The Conqueror immediately recognized the last name uttered. “I've seen these dead eyes and vacant expressions many times in my life,” she muttered.
“I ought to imagine you have, Majesty, more times than you can count,” Mitylene replied with disdain. At that point she realized she had been caught. She knew she would suffer death for her actions, and she also believed that if she denied her crimes, then the Conqueror would shoot the arrows and her army would slaughter the entire Amazon Nation, including her, so there was no point to it.
Mitylene then turned to the Queen and said, “I wasn't entirely sure that you wouldn't recognize us.”
Queen Gabrielle couldn't believe her own ears. She rummaged through her memory but to no avail.
The Conqueror didn't anticipate Mitylene words to the Queen, but kept her frown secure about her features and didn't even grant her Queen a glance.
Mitylene turned her attention back to the Conqueror. “You made me a body slave,” she accused the Sovereign of the world, and the crowd of Amazons gaped at the charge.
The Conqueror's mind raced in search for a recollection, but despite her best efforts, she couldn't place the woman who accused her.
"I don't remember ever owning you or satisfying my needs with you,” the Conqueror responded with a stern tone of voice.
“You never owned me or used me yourself, though I doubt that even if you had, you'd remember… there have been so many,” Mitylene spat. Perhaps, in part, she was hoping to enrage the Conqueror to such degree that the Conqueror would draw out her sword and kill her where she stood, thus sparing her a slower, more painful death.
The Conqueror controlled her rage. She wouldn't grant a dead woman the satisfaction of her wrath.
Gaining no response from the Conqueror, Mitylene continued, "I didn't say I was your body slave, but your actions, Majesty, forced me into slavery. Do you know the names Phillipon and Damianos?” she asked.
It was at the mentioning of these names that Queen Gabrielle knew who these three Amazons really were. She covered her mouth in horror and could hardly stand on her legs. Her heart cringed in pain, and she became as pale as the snow beneath her feet.
Seeing the expression on Queen Gabrielle's face was a small victory for Mitylene, Penthesilea and Oreithyia.
The Conqueror's face, however, never twitched a muscle.
“Damianos was our brother and Phillipon was our father. My real name is Thiba.” She then gestured towards the two women standing to each side of her and said, “My younger sisters' real name are - ”
But it was the Queen who whispered, haunted, “Asteria and Palla.”
“We were young children when my father purchased you, too young for you to recognize us after so many years as grown women,” Thiba said. “You see, not only did you defile our mother's bed, but the Lord Conqueror murdered my father and brother because of you. My brother Damianos was a soldier of the Realm and a gifted archer who taught me his trade. I later taught my sisters that trade, when they were old enough to hold a bow. The night before the Conqueror's campaign in Persia , by the Conqueror's order my brother was reassigned to infantry first line. He died in that battle. Soon after that my father Phillipon was murdered in the street, stabbed over forty times not a few feet away from our home. The Conqueror made it look like he had been murdered during the commission of a robbery, but we all know he died by her hand. My mother, grief stricken by losing a son and a husband, took her own life. Destitute, my sisters and I were sold into slavery.”
Thiba averted her scorning, teary gaze from the crowd to the Queen. “The Lord Conqueror couldn't stand the thought that there were two other men living and breathing who had carnal knowledge of her body slave. Her possessiveness of you destroyed an entire family, regardless of the fact that they had done nothing that she herself hadn't done.”
There was a deafening silence. Queen Gabrielle was beside herself with grief. She clearly remembered that morning soon after their return back from Persia and after that night when she had confessed to her Lord that she had cared for her and the first kiss they had shared. She recalled peeping through the keyhole and eavesdropping on the conversation that had taken place on the other side of the door between her Lord and one of her generals, regarding the deaths of her previous owners.
But Thiba disregarded the now sober and sobbing Queen. “And I had to listen to you denigrating our father and brother in great detail, when all the while you ended up marrying your last owner who had done to you worse than they'd ever done. I guess one has to rule the world in order to win the privilege of marrying a whore such as you. Is that what they did wrong? They weren't rulers of the world?” Thiba addressed the Conqueror again and spitefully claimed, "You, Lord Conqueror, are to be held accountable for the Amazon blood that we shed. You are evil incarnate!"
Queen Gabrielle's heart broke a second time that day.
Hearing the insulting and scathing words spewing out of Thiba's mouth and seeing her Queen agonizing over those venomous words unleashed the Conqueror's wrath. “Are you done?” the Conqueror's voice roared and delivered a strike that sent Thiba flying a few feet away and crushing to the ground. Her strike wasn't for Thiba's slight against her but for the slight against her Queen.
The blood that oozed from Thiba's mouth and nose stained the white snow on the ground, and her pain was as immense as if a ram had hit her face.
The Conqueror walked over to where she had landed, towering over Thiba she made her blood curdle. “You vicious bitch!” the Conqueror shouted at her, “People die in wars. Your brother was no exception, regardless of my orders. My military decisions are not subject to scrutiny, certainly not yours. As for your father, my hands never spilled his blood. He was a degenerate gambler and owed substantial sums to many. His creditors were the ones who murdered him for what he owed them, not I. They made an example out of him. I merely allowed rumors prosper suggesting it had been I who killed him because it served my purposes that no one should touch what is mine. Losing her provider and fearing slavery for her husband's great debts, your mother chose death. You have no one but her to blame for abandoning you to the ill-fate of slavery, rather than do her duty and sell herself instead of you. And even if what you claimed had been the truth, we are each responsible for our own actions. You and your sisters chose to murder nine innocent women, who had shown nothing but kindness and compassion towards you, who welcomed you into their home as their sisters, to serve your own purpose of avenging yourselves against us. I have rivers of blood on my hands, but even I never reached such egregious levels of betrayal, callousness and evil. You have no one to blame but yourselves for your actions." As soon as she finished her speech, the Conqueror loosened the string of her bow, unloaded the burning arrows and dropped them onto the snow.
The three sisters were too damaged and too incapable by their lives' experiences to believe a word the Conqueror had spoken.
The Queen wiped away her tears and composed herself. Her Lord's words provided her with some comfort and alleviated some of her own guilt.
She walked over to stand by her Lord. Thiba was still on the ground at her feet.
"Stand up!" the Queen ordered Thiba, and her younger sisters hurried to assist her back to her feet.
"Do you all admit to killing our sisters?" the Queen firmly asked.
"We do so admit." Proudly , Thiba answered not just for herself but for her sisters as well, who nodded their heads without a grain of regret.
The Queen turned to the Amazon warriors. "Arrest them. They are to be imprisoned behind bars under lock and key until I render my sentence," she instructed them.
The Conqueror leaned down and whispered briefly in the Queen's ear.
Queen Gabrielle addressed Mysia and instructed her to ride to the Thracian border and tell Princess Athena to have all of the Realm's forces retreat from the borders, save for one detachment of the Imperial Guard by orders of the Conqueror, and then ride to the Amazon village.
The Amazon warriors obeyed their Queen, and seized Thiba and her sisters, while Mysia made her way to the Thracian border.
Queen Gabrielle addressed her sisters and subjects, "The grave threat upon us has been lifted. Our nation and our lands are safe again. We owe a great debt of gratitude and we give our humble thanks to our gracious Sovereign Lord of the Realm. I wish to thank you all, my sisters, for your trust and support which you've kindly granted me. I know these past moons have been heartbreaking for the great loses, so sorrowful and strenuous. The time for grieving and healing can begin, and I vow before you that justice will be done. To a strong and united Amazon Nation!"
There was silence in the crowd. The Queen's words still echoed under the grey sky. It seemed as though her sisters and subjects had yet to determine their reaction. What played before them required more time to digest perhaps, but then little by little they began to shout her name in cheer, till it swept them all and their voices became one giant roar of admiration.
Queen Gabrielle smiled and she curbed her tears at the sight of their gushing show of genuine respect towards her. She waved at them with affection and appreciation.
After some time had elapsed and the cheering was winding down, the Conqueror offered her arm to her Queen, and they turned to leave the village center. The Amazons bowed before the Conqueror and murmured, "Your Majesty."
As they sauntered together, the Queen clung tighter to the Conqueror's arm. "We have much to discuss between us."
"I agree," affirmed the Conqueror and kept her eyes ahead.
"I know of a place where we can speak privately," she said and led the Conqueror to the lake, which was now nearly frozen solid and no longer used for communal bathing.
"How extraordinary it was that you could single them out as the guilty parties. How could you tell?"
"When I said that I would spare the tribe if the murderers raised their arms in the air, they were the only ones whose eyes didn't seek out to see which of their sisters raised their arms, but buried their noses in the ground and avoided eye contact. I have a propensity for recognizing a guilty mind."
"That you do," the Queen smiled and finally felt immensely relieved that the dark cloud that had been hovering over them had finally evaporated.
The Conqueror felt the slight tremor in her Queen's body. "Are you warm enough?" she asked with concern, about to take off her robe.
"I am. It was nothing more than tension leaving my body," the Queen replied and inwardly relished the Conqueror's gesture of gallantry.
"You mentioned Mitylene in one of your letters to me," the Conqueror pointed out as she treaded carefully around the subject of the Queen's letters she hadn't responded to.
"I have," the Queen replied.
"From the things she just said I gather you were very candid with her about your past," the Conqueror pointed out.
"I thought if I could be forthcoming with her and share that part of my past with her, then she might find strength and courage in that to face her own past and begin to heal," the Queen spoke compassionately and remorsefully and her feet stepped over the snow covered pebbles by the icy lake, where it all had happened.
"It appears to me that the two of you have developed quite an affinity between you for the past moons." The Conqueror halted her steps and turned to face her Queen.
"I wished to be her friend and I thought we were which is why learning of her betrayal was that much more painful to me, and made me feel a fool." The Queen played with her hair in embarrassment.
“You mustn't admonish yourself for having a kind and trusting heart;" the Conqueror said and put some distance between the Queen and herself. "You told her more than you ever told me, it seems." Judging by the Conqueror's tone of voice, it almost sounded like an accusation.
"I spared you the details because I was convinced that you didn't wish to know them and that it would incur anger in you," the Queen replied.
The Conqueror didn't respond. She was ambiguous about the Queen's answer, both because she knew that the Queen's reservations had been rooted in truth and because she rued it.
"When you heard that your previous owners were dead, how did it make you feel?" the Conqueror inquired and the Queen could sense the Conqueror's inquisitive eyes boring into her, vigilant of the tiniest alteration in her expression.
The Queen drew in a hefty breath. "I must confess that today wasn't the first time I heard of their deaths," she spoke quietly and looked down at her fingers playing with her ring with some uneasiness .
"Oh?" the Conqueror's eyebrows rose in surprise, but her watchful eyes never left the Queen.
"That morning, soon after we had returned from Persia , I overheard a conversation between you and one of your generals…" the Queen confessed.
The Conqueror knew exactly to which conversation the Queen was referring. "I see," she muttered with the assumption that the Queen had believed that she had had a hand in their deaths all these years. "So, for years you thought I had orchestrated their deaths, did you not?"
The Queen felt guilty and she knew that the Conqueror could read it clear across her face. "Frankly, I wasn't sure what to think," she offered honesty.
The Conqueror's inner dilemma whether she should hold it against her Queen or not was still pending. "Do you believe what I said to Thiba regarding this matter?" she eventually asked.
"I do.” The Queen was almost offended that the Conqueror would ask the question. “I know you. You wouldn't lie about it," she answered, "And it eased my mind to learn that I wasn't the cause of their deaths. I don't ever wish to be the cause of anyone's death."
"Then you should be glad to know that you wouldn't be the cause of Thiba' and her sisters' deaths, either. They will be disemboweled, burned and beheaded on the charge of high treason in Corinth ," the Conqueror stated.
The Queen shot her disbelieving eyes at the Conqueror. She evened her breath and stated just as firmly as the Conqueror had stated, "I should be the one to decide their punishment. They killed nine Amazons including an Amazon queen and a princess. Amazons deserve Amazon justice."
"Amazon justice…,” the Conqueror nearly scoffed but there was something bitter not just mordant in her timbre, “And just what is your view of justice?" the Conqueror became even more confrontational.
"It is my wish that they should remain imprisoned behind bars for the rest of their lives," the Queen replied.
"They raised arms against us. They plotted and executed a plan to kill us. There is only one punishment for such a crime according to the law of the Realm - death." The Conqueror was getting too close to the edge of her limits.
"According to Amazon law, their punishment is at my discretion," argued the Queen.
"Amazon law is valid so long as it does not conflict with mine. I thought that much was clear to you."
The Queen tried to appeal to the Conqueror's mercy. "They have suffered more than you can imagine. If you could see the scars… the testimony of savage brutality… to have them executed now after such miserable living…"
"It has no bearing on the matter. My law has primacy."
"Then as Queen of the Realm it is my wish that their lives would be spared," the Queen challenged.
The Conqueror shook her head sideways.
"So my will means nothing, then? The word of the Realm's sovereign Queen is void of any real substance?"
The Conqueror stared at the Queen with piercing fierce eyes, clenched her jaw tightly and said nothing."This matter of Thiba's and her sisters' penalty will not be resolved until our great matter is resolved," the Queen concluded.
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