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 reader Nancyjean 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
Athena opened the wooden shades in her mother's hut and allowed sunlight to pour in. Queen Gabrielle let out a soft sigh and stirred in bed to face away from the windows. Athena seated herself next to her slumbering mother and gently stroked her hair.
"It is time to get up, mother," she spoke softly.
Queen Gabrielle's eyes opened slowly. With a gross lack of enthusiasm, she lifted herself up to a sitting position.
"Morning came too soon," Queen Gabrielle muttered.
"You will see better days," Athena promised, "And if I may say so…"
"Of course you may," said the Queen.
"Since you are already here, you might as well make the best of it. Submerge yourself in what it was that made you wish to stay here," Athena advised. "That is what I did when I attended the Roman Academy and missed home."
"Thank you, Athena," the Queen said as she was getting out of bed.
Queen Gabrielle did not answer. She only smiled.
"I shall leave you to get dressed then," Athena said and vacated the hut.
As soon as she set foot outside her hut, Queen Gabrielle spotted Queen Melosa and the Shamaness making their way over.
"Queen Melosa, Shamaness Smyrna" Queen Gabrielle greeted.
"Majesty," both women returned the courtesy.
"I have decided to remain here and accept the right of cast," Queen Gabrielle forced a smile on her face even though she was deeply overwrought with sadness.
"Good news," exclaimed Queen Melosa, genuinely delighted. "Would you and the Lord Conqueror care to join us for breakfast?"
"Thank you for your kind invitation, however, my Lord left for Corinth last night, and will summon the governors of all three provinces around Amazon territory for inquiry," Queen Gabrielle said and managed only just to speak with an even tone of voice.
"To be summoned to appear before the Lord Conqueror for inquiry under these circumstances…" Queen Melosa muttered and shook her shoulders like the very idea gave her shivers all over. She trusted the Throne in Corinth to get to the bottom of these recent events.
"You and her Grace, then," suggested the Shamaness.
Queen Gabrielle looked around in search for her daughter, but Princess Athena was nowhere to be found. "I believe her Grace has gone for her usual morning ride, and alas I am not hungry." Truth was, she wasn't simply 'not hungry' but rather completely lost her appetite after her Lord had left.
"Perhaps you care to come with me to my hut so that I may begin preparing you?" asked the Shamaness.
"I would be delighted," answered Queen Gabrielle.
In the Shamaness' hut, Queen Gabrielle's eyes curiously reviewed all the shelves loaded with various herbs and peculiar array of icons. Not much sunlight managed to sneak in. The Shamaness proceeded to light up a few candles, and then sat on a pile of aromatic hides on the ground at the center of the hut and gestured an invitation for the Queen to join her.
The Shamaness threw a few herbs into an iron bowl and lit it on fire. As the herbs burned slowly away, a white smoke permeated the small hut along with a pleasant, soothing sweet odor.
Queen Gabrielle sat down cross-legged opposite the Shamaness.
"Majesty," the Shamaness began to say, somewhat hesitantly, "For you to be ushered into the Amazon nation as a future leader, we must cleanse your spirit and prepare you."
"Cleanse my spirit?" Queen Gabrielle wasn't sure what that meant.
"As we walk through life we accumulate experiences, some are good, some are bad. Our life experiences affect our spirit. While good ones uplift and delight us, the bad ones damage us and infest inside us," the Shamaness explained and began to brew another concoction over the fire.
As the Queen watched the Shamaness' hands toiling over the fire, she hurried to say, "I'm in peace and very well-contented, so really there is no need for my spirit to be cleansed."
"Majesty, I bear you great respect. Trust cannot be easily rendered for one of your station, for obvious reasons. You must feel that you should be careful not to place trust in me, even though trusting is inherently in your kind and generous nature," the older Shamaness spoke softly.
The Queen gazed pensively at the white smoke and offered no reply. The Shamaness words evoked odd feelings of regret, but the reason for it eluded her.
"I give you my word," the Shamaness went on to say, "that all that takes place within these walls shall remain here. I will guard your secrets, Majesty, and I will do all that I can to gain your Majesty's trust."
The Queen nodded in silence. The Shamaness spoke to her like no other had spoken to her for many years. Her mind drifted to thoughts about the late Princess Lao-ling and she suddenly was overwhelmed by how much she missed her.
When the brew was ready, the Shamaness took it off the fire and poured some into a cup. She handed the steaming cup to the Queen. "It would calm you, Majesty, nothing more," she promised.
The Queen took the cup and sipped from it just once before she discarded the cup on the ground.
"Some of our old memories are buried inside us. The worse they are the deeper we bury them, but they are never really gone. They become like an invisible ball and chain around your ankle… Something that lies heavy on you and weighs you down with you not being able to see or understand… be aware of it."
Queen Gabrielle couldn't help but wonder how much of her past the Shamaness was aware of. On an instinct, she made her features appear even blanker than before.
"Is there anything that is troubling you, Majesty?" the Shamaness asked.
The Queen looked down at her hands clasped together in her lap. She felt a pinch in her heart and saw a flash of her Lord's face in her mind's eye. "That I might not measure up… that I might not prove fit to be an Amazon Queen," she replied after some time had elapsed.
The Shamaness smiled. "You are an extraordinary woman, Majesty. You proved as much when you placed yourself in mortal danger for a young woman you'd never met before. You are the Queen of the Realm and you care for your subjects. I have no doubt in my mind that one day you'll become one of this nation's greatest leaders." She then paused for a few moments and carefully studied the woman who sat opposite her. "Perhaps in time, as this process progresses, you will trust me enough to reveal what's really in your heart, Majesty," she said knowingly.
Queen Gabrielle did not protest for she knew it would be an insult to the Shamaness.
"Very good," the Shamaness finally said. "With your approval, Majesty, I should very much like to meet with you again tomorrow at dusk. It would be best to take advantage of daylight for military training and the darkness for the exploration of the soul. Secrets make themselves more available in the veil of night."
The Queen stood up. "Thank you, Shamaness," she said, feeling uncomfortable that she hadn't been forthcoming with the Shamaness and grossly refrained from cooperating with her. Fact was she desperately needed someone to confide in even though she had hardly ever done so in the past. So much had been lying heavily on her, and she sought some relief. There was only so much she could say to Athena, and besides, a child should never be put between her parents. The Shamaness was older and wiser and had she not been a complete stranger, would have been otherwise perfect for the task.
"Will I see you tomorrow then?" the Shamaness asked and stood facing the Queen.
"Tomorrow," the Queen confirmed with a nod of her head and left for the training field.
On the drilling field, Queen Gabrielle welcomed Mysia's arduous training regime and was thankful for it. She hoped that when it was time to retire for the night, the time of the day that she had grown to dread, she'd be too exhausted to think and would succumb to blissfully oblivious sleep quickly enough.
It seemed to Queen Gabrielle that wherever she went, Princess Athena was close at the vicinity. She could feel her Lord's long reach over her for there was no doubt in her mind that before her Lord had left she had instructed the Princess to watch over and protect her.
After bathing, the Queen elected to forgo supper and retired for the night. In the privacy of her hut, she laid her fatigued body atop the large bed and reached over to the empty side next to her. She slid her fingers against the cool linens, and looked at the moonlight reflecting back from the green diamond ring that the Conqueror had given her in Thira soon after professing her love for her. She buried her face into the pillow that had supported the Conqueror's head in an attempt to inhale and absorb any remnants of her unique fragrance. She was in luck. She closed her eyes and pictured her Lord lying next to her. She pushed away any straying thoughts about their brawl and simply imagined herself cuddling against her lover's bodily nook. That would become her nightly ritual.
The next day, bright and early, Princess Athena found her mother sleeping in bed still. Once again she opened the shades, but the Queen refused to open her eyes.
"Mother," she whispered gently.
When no reply came, she pulled off the covers from her mother's body, deliberately exposing it to the morning chill.
The Queen's eyes opened just barely. She was as exhausted as she had been before the night’s sleep.
"You look tired," Athena pointed out and helped her mother to a sitting position.
"I didn't get a good night’s sleep," the Queen replied apathetically. She didn't wish to alarm her daughter.
"You'll feel much better after you've eaten something," Athena said and turned around so that her mother could dress.
"I'm not hungry. I best be on my way to the training field. I have kept Mysia waiting long enough. I'm confident that after the exerting exercises I shall develop a healthy appetite."
But she didn't. Queen Gabrielle skipped eating completely that day as well, and soon after dark she entered the Shamaness' hut. She had only one desire, to be back in her hut, in her bed imagining her Lord was there with her.
She even considered taking a horse and riding to Corinth, but the great paradox of her existence in those days was that she missed her Lord but wasn’t ready to face her yet. She wanted to be in Corinth but felt what she wished to achieve with the Amazons wasn't yet obtained.
That visit with the Shamaness wasn’t any different from the one she had had the previous day.
She answered briefly to the Shamaness' guiding questions and didn't volunteer any information of her own. She evaded any personal questions and provided detached, almost diplomatic answers in reply.
Once more, after closing the door behind her soon after returning to her sanctuary, she collapsed on top of the bed, closed her eyes and was back in her Lord's phantom arms.
The next day was exactly the same as the previous two. Mysia, the Amazon warrior entrusted with the Queen’s military training, could no longer ignore the lack of concentration and the lack of strength which the Queen couldn’t help but exhibiting on the drilling field.
“Majesty, may I ask… are you feeling well?” she asked.
“I am. Why do you ask?”
“When we first started training, your Majesty seemed eager and focused. For the past days your Majesty seems… and please, forgive me for saying this, but you seem distracted and handle the staff as if it is too heavy for you to even hold, let alone wield.”
“I will try and do better,” the Queen shrugged it off.
On the fourth day, again, to the Queen morning came in a blink of an eye. A diminished, unconvincing sun hit her eyelids, but the Queen's body felt too heavy.
Princess Athena had to wake her up again, only this time she sounded concerned.
"When was the last time you've eaten?" she demanded to know, and Queen Gabrielle couldn't help but notice how much like the Conqueror her daughter sounded, and it made her lethargic heart miss a beat.
"I don't recall," the Queen felt almost too weak to speak, like uttering words was a labor that required an effort. She just sat atop the bed and tried to essentially put off standing up and getting out of her nightgown and into her attire.
"You don’t recall!?" Athena was too worried to be gentle and mindful of her mother's pain."Last time I've seen you put something in your mouth was when the Conqueror was still here! That was a little over three days ago!"
"I will eat when I’m hungry," the Queen said and forced a smile on her lips.
But Athena saw right through it. She knew her mother well enough to know that when the Queen smiled her eyes would light up. That morning, like in all recent mornings, her eyes were extinguished, bloodshot and there were black circles around them.
Upon seeing that her daughter wasn't fooled, the Queen dropped her shoulders down and asked nearly indistinctly, "Do you know what the happiest moments of my days are?"
Athena shook her head.
"These moments when one just wakes up and is still not aware of what time it is, or where she is… these are the happiest moments of my days because at these moments I am not yet aware that my Lord has forsaken me."
It pained Athena to see her mother suffering so, and the Queen's last words almost weakened her resolve. "I will not stand idly by while you waste away,” she firmly proclaimed. "I understand that you miss her Majesty, I do. I know that you are hurting over the argument that the two of you had had before her Majesty returned to Corinth, but this carrying on must cease." Athena helped her mother to her feet and handed her, her garments to wear. "I have half a mind to put you on a horse and take you back to Corinth, but honestly, I'm not sure you'll survive the ride, and regardless, you are my mother and Queen of the Realm and so I must respect and obey your wishes."
The Princess washed her mother's face with a wet piece of cloth. "Nevertheless," she stated resolutely, "Should you insist on continuing in this fashion, I shall be forced to speak to the Shamaness, which so far I've been reluctant to do so to avoid even the hint of a scandal." She discarded the cloth and took a brush in her hand.
"I'm so sorry for causing you such concern and discomfort," the Queen said remorsefully, as her devoted daughter brushed her golden hair, careful not to cause her mother pain as she untangled the stubborn knots.
Athena halted her motions and looked into her mother's sad eyes intently. "You needn't apologize to me, mother," she said with great conviction. "Just take better care of yourself," she went on to say and resumed the brushing.
When the Queen was presentable, they both made their way to take breakfast. The Queen sat at the table and under the watchful eye of Athena she joylessly placed food in her mouth and involuntarily began masticating it slowly before swallowing it. It tasted like sand in her mouth, not because it was spoiled or badly cooked, but because she had no desire what so ever for it.
And from there it was to the drilling field. There, more for her daughter's sakes than anything else, she recruited every fraction of will power and strength she had in her and plied them into her training.
Athena escorted her mother for supper as well, where she supervised her mother's eating like a relentless hawk, and from there it was to the Shamaness' hut.
"You seem better this evening, Majesty," the Shamaness said as she began lighting up the scented herbs, sitting across from the Queen.
"Thank you," the Queen replied and mindlessly rubbed her neck, just above the collarbone. She then did something she had never done before. She looked into the older woman's burning eyes, and said, "Please call me Gabrielle, at least whenever we're here. This… compulsory distance is suffocating me these days."
The Shamaness smiled and nodded her head approvingly. This was a first step in the right direction, she thought. "Very good, Gabrielle."
The Queen was given a cup with a murky liquid in it that had an exceptionally potent tang to drink. "It is perfectly safe. You'll soon feel lightheadedness. Now drink it."
"For what purpose?" the Queen asked as she began to sip the brew.
"Think of yourself as the gatekeeper of your mind. This potion will loosen your grip around the gate," the Shamaness explained then added, "It will benefit you more if you don't fight it."
It was at that moment that the potion took effect on the Queen. She leaned backwards until her back was resting against the floorboards and the hut's ceiling spun before her eyes. She felt herself floating as if she was in the middle of the sea. Beads of sweat covered her skin in spite of the fact that it was cold outside. Her last thought before she was under the effect of the potion was that the sensation wasn't unfamiliar to her, for it felt much like that night when she had gotten tipsy when she had been a body slave in service of the Conqueror.
In her mind's eye, she was thrown back to the time when she had been purchased by her second owner, Phillipon, before she had entered the Conqueror's service. He had purchased her as a body slave for his son, Damianos. When first she had heard the term 'body slave' being uttered, she hadn't had a clear notion of what exactly that term meant, but she instinctively understood what that particular 'position' might entail.
The events of that first night of her service to Damianos played vividly before her eyes like a scene played on a stage.
She remembered the fairly modest bedchamber of the young dark-haired man, Damianos. She could smell the unique smell of it, jasmine she believed it was. She remembered quickly looking around and studying her new surroundings, what would be her new place of abode. She could clearly recall the exact shade of blue and the shape of the patterns painted over the tiles. She heard Phillipon proudly congratulating his son for being accepted as a warrior into the ranks of the Conqueror's vast forces. She could feel Phillipon's hand against her back while he spoke slightly nudging her forward, offering her as a gift to his son, who had turned into a man in his father's eyes. She could sense how she nervously anticipated what had been, at that point, uncharted territory for her. Her previous position had been as a domestic for the county healer, and nothing else.
When she was left alone with the young lad, she quickly realized she would soon have to perform something she had never had to before. To some extent she felt odd excitement. He stripped her of her clothes, which was easy enough. She hadn’t had much on to begin with. He asked her to lie on the bed and she did. He soon disrobed as well and laid himself on top of her.
From his first touches to her body, she soon realized he didn’t know what he was doing. She was very much a virgin herself to be sure, and still growing up in her father’s farm, where she had had occasion to see livestock animals mate; she had had some idea as to the basic requirements of the act. This particular activity was meant to be pleasurable, otherwise what was the point of doing it, she understood that much. And yet, his touch generated no pleasure in her. He touched her like a curious toddler would, experimenting with a new toy that he had yet to figure out how to operate.
In her trance like state, her mind summoned for her consideration her first night in the Conqueror’s service, as an unfair comparison. Standing in the same chamber with Damianos was nothing like being in the presence of the Lord Conqueror. The Lord Conqueror commanded her awe and the glare of her smoldering mesmerizing eyes made her skin bristle and her knees feeble. The Conqueror touched her confidently and masterfully. Her powerful hands moved over her body like experienced travelers and her fingers like keen trackers. The Lord Conqueror knew exactly what she wanted and how to take it. The Lord Conqueror rained raging rivers of fire all over her flesh that seeped into her soul, and when the Lord Conqueror filled her she feared her heart would burst. These were not the fumbling attempts of a timid, unripened lad, but the absolute domination of the most powerful woman in the world… and she was so sinfully beautiful and statuesque that it almost made a young slave weep.
Still in a daze, her mind speeded forward. Her young owner Damianos didn’t improve over the seasons and in many ways she was thankful for that. When it became evident that the lad found men preferable to women, he discarded her, and where the son had left off, a father picked up and had occasion to use her.
When memories of service to Phillipon returned to haunt her, she was lucidly seeing them passing before her. While her body was being exploited for the sexual gratification of a stranger, she put her mind elsewhere where it was green and sunny and the warm dry winds brushed against the lush grass creating ripples as if against water, far far away from her owner and his domain.
With Damianos, it was different, because he was young and because he was pathetic she could almost forgive him or at the very least not begrudge him his actions. With Phillipon she felt the degradation fully.
She began to sob and was quickly becoming aware of her surroundings. She shot right up to a sitting position. The Shamaness cradled her in her arm and rocked her gently to calm her.
“These were just memories,” she said. “Acknowledge and confront them and they can never hurt you.”
The Queen needed to cry like she could expel the memories she hadn’t conjured in years through the purifying tears.
“You were robbed of your youth in the most humiliating way and deprived of any sense of power and control,” the Shamaness said and stroked the Queen’s hair in a motherly fashion.
“Did I say something!?” the Queen covered her mouth, mortified when she suddenly realized the Shamaness had more than a fair idea as to what she had experienced.
“Some things you said, others I saw,” the Shamaness whispered but deemed it unnecessary to explain any further and she was correct. At that moment it didn’t really matter.
“I have never delved into the events of those days for fear of sinking and disappearing into the abyss.” The Queen sniffed and wiped her tears when she finally calmed.
“You have come a long way from those days,” the Shamaness told her, “but you already know that better than I do. Oftentimes there is no good reason as to why events occur the way they do, but try to perceive it differently. If you hadn’t been sold, you wouldn’t have become the Lord Conqueror’s wife and Queen and you wouldn’t have been in the position to better the lives of countless people.”
The Queen smiled a genuine smile, her first in days. “I could only hope so.”
“Well, I can see your hand all over the Conqueror's decree to abolish slavery," the Shamaness said knowingly.
Juxtaposing the building of hospices and outlawing slavery, the latter was the grander gesture of the two for the former required nothing more than for the Conqueror to spend her exchequer; the latter behooved her to be at odds with subjects of the Realm who were rich and powerful enough to own slaves.
Queen Gabrielle was reluctant to admit the great influence she had had over the Conqueror's decisions, for it might insinuate as to the true nature of their bond, and so she elected to refrain from admitting as much.
However, no such admission was necessary. "There is much more to you, Gabrielle, than Queen of the Realm, wife of the Lord Conqueror and mother to her heir or future Queen of the Amazon nation. You mustn’t lose sight of who you are.”
“Thank you, Smyrna,” the Queen said. She wiped her brow and rose to her feet.
As the Shamaness poured water over the burning herbs, putting an end to the wafting white smoke, she asked, “Would you please do a favor for me?”
“If it is in my power to grant the favor, of course I would.”
“There are five sisters here that have been body slaves in the past.”
The Queen nodded her head in empathy, “I know. The late Princess Terreis told me just before…” her voice trailed off.
“In the years followed by the abolishment of slavery throughout the Realm, these women found their way to us. I’ve succeeded in helping four of them to confront the consequences.”
“Not all five?”
“I suspect Mitylene was severely damaged and keeps withdrawn. She must have suffered unfathomable horrors during her years of service… probably worse than most. She pays the price still. Will you agree to try and help me reach her?”
“I will try and do my very best,” the Queen promised as she reached the door.
“Sleep well, Gabrielle,” the Shamaness said.
“Thank you, and Good night,” replied the Queen.
On her way back to her hut, Queen Gabrielle realized how lonely it had been being the Queen of the Realm, even more so now with everything that had happened with her former lady-in-waiting Satrina and with Princess Lao-Ling’s untimely death. And even with those two women, whom she considered her dear and close friends, she had always kept them at arm's length and had allowed them to get only that close to her because of her station and her complex bond with her Lord.
Alone in bed and in the dark, Queen Gabrielle touched her fingertips to her lips and whispered, "My Lord," to herself, enjoying the hot vibrations of those two precious words against her skin.
That very night the Conqueror arrived at the palace in Corinth.
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