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!
A little over a moon had passed since the Conqueror had left the Amazon lands, and the Queen's longings for her only grew deeper and stronger. It seemed that absolutely everything reminded Queen Gabrielle of the Conqueror.
When she ate breakfast, she told Princess Athena how whenever in Thira, her Lord would always make her breakfast and would even clean the dishes afterwards, which Athena found too hard to believe and attributed what she figured to be a wild exaggeration to her mother's longing for the Conqueror. On the practice field, she told Athena, Mitylene and Mysia how her Lord had practiced with Athena when Athena had been but a young child. When they went hunting, Queen Gabrielle told them how one time her Lord had single-handedly killed three wolves that had threatened their lives, and about their hunting trips and her Lord's methods of capturing her prey. Queen Gabrielle did not miss the flimsiest of opportunity to mention her Lord and she did so whenever she could.
Princess Athena understood that speaking about the Conqueror made her mother feel closer to her, as if the very mentioning of her manifested the Conqueror's presence somehow and made her physical absence a tad more tolerable.
"Write to her Majesty. I will deliver your message to the Imperial guards at the Thracian border," Athena suggested.
"I will not have you unnecessarily risk your life just so that I may send a message," the Queen immediately rejected the idea.
"It's been over a moon since the last attack. It is quiet around the borders and they are teeming with soldiers of the Imperial Guard. I am an excellent warrior and so I can assure you, there is no risk at all. I will ride on horseback after sundown in full armor. Besides, no one can hit a mark in utter darkness, let alone a moving one." Princess Athena sounded very convincing and the Queen wanted very much to be convinced.
"You are not just saying so to put my mind at ease, are you?!" the Queen asked apprehensively.
"I give you my solemn oath that I will be safe," Athena placed her hand over her chest.
And so right after supper, when time was finally her own, the Queen sat in her hut and wrote a letter to her Lord with a trembling hand. She thought long and hard about what she wished to convey to her beloved. It took a while for her first words to find their way onto the parchment, but as she scribbled away, more and more words streamed out of her aching heart and into the letter. When she was done, she kissed the words 'My beloved Lion' in her handwriting, folded the sheet that rested atop her table and sealed it with her crest.
She walked over to Athena's hut and placed the folded parchment in her hand. "If there is even the slightest hint of peril please return immediately," she said.
"I promise I will, mother," Athena replied, fastening her heavy bronze armor.
"Swear to me that you'll return unharmed," the Queen insisted.
"I do so swear," Athena smiled in light of her overprotective mother's niggling.
"As soon as you return be sure to let me know. I will not go to sleep before - "
"You needn't stay up in wait for me," Athena cut through her mother's speech.
"Do not argue with me!" the Queen sounded very adamant.
Athena nodded her head and went on her way.
Knowing it would be awhile before her daughter's return, Queen Gabrielle put a woolen cape over her shoulders for warmth, clasped a burning torch in her hand and went out to face the night's chill. Her legs carried her to the lake where the Amazons bathed, in the hopes of finding Mitylene there. She surmised that the Amazon might seize the opportunity during night time when it was dark, cold and deserted and wash herself in private.
For the past moon or so, Queen Gabrielle had religiously practiced her staff with the younger Amazon on a daily basis. Each day, while they had practiced, the Queen had told Mitylene about her life, about how she had acquired her healing skills, and about life in her village where she had grown up, in order to provoke Mitylene to share her history as well. Mitylene, however, had spoken about nothing that hadn't been related to staff practicing.
As she neared the lake, she could hear the sounds of trickling water disturbing the silence of the moonless night. Someone was definitely there. As she got closer, as expected, she saw Mitylene's head bobbing at the surface as her entire body was submerged under the dark water.
Mitylene stilled her motion anxiously. "Who goes there?" she asked timidly.
"It's me. Please do not be alarmed," Queen Gabrielle replied, "I didn't mean to frighten you."
"Majesty," Mitylene let out as she was torn between her will to veil herself in the water and her duty to rise and bow before the Queen.
Sensing Mitylene's predicament, the Queen softly said, "You may stay where you are."
"Thank you, Majesty," Mitylene answered, her movement still frozen.
"I'm sorry for encroaching on your privacy, but I couldn't sleep and so I thought I might take a nightly stroll."
"You needn't explain yourself, Majesty." Mitylene began fidgeting.
Queen Gabrielle affixed the burning torch between a few nearby rocks on the ground on the bank of the small lake. "You wouldn't mind if I joined you, would you?" she asked and before a reply was issued she removed her woolen cape.
"Of course not, Majesty," Mitylene didn't conceive of refusing the Queen of the Realm.
Queen Gabrielle deliberately stood near the burning torch and allowed it to illuminate her slim figure as she slowly disrobed and exposed her nakedness to the biting chill of the night's air. She wanted Mitylene to notice the brand mark that had been singed into her flesh above her shoulder blade by the Conqueror.
Before entering the water, the Queen first dipped her toes, "The water is freezing!" she exclaimed and laughed and from the corner of her eye she saw that Mitylene was staring intently at the Conqueror's insignia scarring her back.
Slowly, the Queen descended into the water. "How can you stand the cold?" she asked the younger woman.
"I find the numbing coolness against my skin quite soothing," Mitylene replied and quickly averted her gaze from the Queen's branding scar, not wishing to be caught staring at it. Due to the poor lighting, she wasn't completely sure what the scar was exactly, whether some old mark from an accident or something altogether different.
"You may examine it more closely if you wish," the Queen said without a hint of scrutiny in her voice. She wanted Mitylene to recognize it for what it was.
Though embarrassed for obviously being caught staring, diffidently, Mitylene moved closer to the Queen and took a closer look under the light. She quickly recognized the nature of the mark and the Conqueror's crest. That brand mark hadn't been made by accident, she immediately realized, but by a deliberate hand.
When Mitylene was surveying the Queen's form, the latter was surveying hers. As a trained and experienced healer, Queen Gabrielle could easily discern scars that have been left by a whip, other scars that have been done with a blade, burn scars made by fire and others by white-hot iron rod. As her eyes moved over the younger woman's torso, she was no longer aware of how freezing the water was, and oblivious to the hot tears that slid down her features. The horrors that Mitylene's body narrated without words split her heart. At that moment, for the first time in many days, thoughts of her Lord didn't occupy her mind.
It was then that Mitylene looked directly into the Queen's eyes for the first time since they had met.
The Queen quickly composed herself. She did not wish to burden Mitylene with her own tears. Those tears born out of pity and empathy were as helpful as medicine for a dead man. "I was resold as a body slave as soon as I got my first blood,” she began to say.
The Queen's statement did not come as a shock to Mitylene. The fact that she once had been a body slave was well-known.
“One day, two men came to the healer's house, where I had served as a domestic to my first owner, and I was taken away without so much as an explanation. Soon after I learnt that I had been lucky to be a maiden, otherwise the slavers would have used me before selling me. For some reason, men are willing to pay more for the privilege of deflowering a virgin.” Gabrielle paused. She could withstand the night's chill no longer and so she got out of the water and wrapped her woolen cape over her body. “To this day I cannot understand, if lust is their only motivation then what difference it makes?!”
“And then what happened, Majesty?” Mitylene asked and seated her dripping self next to the Queen on the dry bank, on the other side of the burning torch. The scars on her back, her arms and her breasts were better seen closer to the flame.
Queen Gabrielle took it as a sign that despite the sensitive and painful subject, Mitylene welcomed it. “I was put on the slavers' block. A tag with a price on it was tied around my neck as though I was a prized heifer at a fair. One thousand Dinars was my price, I'll never forget. As the hot stone-made platform burned the soles of my feet, men fondled me, posing as if they were actually considering buying me, but most of them simply enjoyed a free thrill. Then a man came and bought me for his son, and for the next few years I had to service both him and his son.”
Queen Gabrielle took a deep breath. As she continued her life story, she played with her fingers, and couldn't look into Mitylene's eyes. The shame of it felt like yesterday. “What was hard on me the most was not their degrading carnal acts on me, or their sweat and filth sullying my body, like you would imagine. It was the fact that neither of them ever spoke to me. None of them cared who I was, like it didn't matter, like I didn't matter. My thoughts, my dreams, my wants meant nothing. I was nothing, a chattel, a place to dump lust. I was used with all the attention and care one would give a cheap chair or a table. The father was the worse of the two, the way he smelled like a wet goat, and how he tasted when he put his member in my mouth, like rotten carobs… The way he grunted in my ears… It was revolting."
As she spoke, the Queen's eyes were nearly glazed, like she could see her words turning into images before her eyes, or better yet, like she was describing a scene she was witnessing before her, haunted.
"Unlike his son, I could see how much pleasure he took in my humiliation. The more he degraded me, the more aroused he got. I had control over nothing. I wasn't allowed to relieve myself without him permitting me to. I ate when he said I could eat. I drank when he said I could drink. I learned to dream while wide-awake when used. Little by little, more of me vanished and all that was left was a pretty shell. I was lucky enough he almost never beat me. I never gave him reason to, and I guess he wasn't inherently violent. One day, I can only guess that he grew tired of me, and it was back to the slavers' block for me. I was a few moons shy of my eighteenth birthday. Being older than I had been the first time around… and used, the slaver calculated that I was worth seven hundred Dinnars… still quite expensive, I remember thinking to myself.” Her past sense of distorted pride and the importance of her monetary value seemed ridiculous to her now, and she almost giggled.
Queen Gabrielle lifted her head then and momentarily gazed at Mitylene. She half expected to find empathy, but indifference was all she could find. Nevertheless, she understood. The younger woman had it worse than her, and so she must have grown a thicker skin. She had to, if only to survive. “That very day, as I was standing for the second time on the slavers' block, the Conqueror approached the stock on display. It was on the day of the festive military parade that marked the sixth anniversary of the Conqueror's reign. I nearly fainted when I felt her eyes roaming all over me. She bought me for herself. How silly it is that your entire sense of self-worth is comprised by how high up your owner is and how much he is willing to pay for you.” The Queen wasn't quite sure how to proceed, so she halted her speech and waited for Mitylene's reaction.
The younger Amazon was certainly riveted by the Queen's tale. She was amazed that the Queen of the Realm would share such sordid details from her past and to a stranger with outstanding candor, but she hid her amazement well.
“May I say, Majesty…” she requested permission to speak her mind.
“Of course you may,” the Queen encouraged her.
“Aside from the mark on your Majesty's back, there aren't any other scars as far as I can see. It has been my experience that this is quite rare.”
“So I have come to understand myself. It was simply my luck that I didn't have many owners, I guess, and none was willing to pass me around or mar the goods.”
It was strange for the Queen to talk with the former body slave about her life of servitude. It suddenly took her back to the time when she had been a slave. She felt it so intensely that she nearly lost the omnipresent sense she had since being free and a Queen. For a moment there she felt like a slave still, like a worthless nobody. The conversation she had shared with the two body slaves during the summit in Corinth soon after the Conqueror had defeated Britannia flashed before her eyes.
“With your permission, Majesty, may I ask…” Mitylene inquired with a small voice.
“You are curious to know what I did to deserve the mark on my back,” the Queen smiled in understanding.
Mitylene simply nodded her head.
“Well…” the Queen began to reply, then stopped and carefully considered what she was going to say. The day that the Conqueror had admitted her great love for her, she explained she had branded her as punishment for spoiling the pleasure of having women other than her. But she couldn't tell as much to Mitylene . “I have the matter of my Lord's privacy to take into account, you see,” she continued, but when she saw a hint of disappointment cross Mitylene's face, the first sign of emotion she had ever shown thus far, Queen Gabrielle went on to say, “Let's just say that I was punished for what my Lord thought I had taken from her, and leave it at that.”
Mitylene knew she had to tread very cautiously with the many questions she had for the Queen. She wondered, for example, how it was, given the Conqueror's reputation, that the Queen had but only one scar on her body, or whether the Queen bore any ill-feelings towards the Conqueror for having to serve her or not, and what was it like to serve the Conqueror. But posing such questions might be construed as being disrespectful and intrusive and so she remained silent.
The astute Queen figured as much. She decided not to wait for the questions to come forth but to tell as much as she could within the limitations. "With my Lord it was very different. When you service, you teach yourself not to feel, so that all the horrible things that are being done to you will not affect you. At first I couldn't understand why, but when she touched me, she made me feel… it wasn't horrible, and it terrified me. I knew I shouldn't feel, as I had taught myself with my previous owner. When she took me, I couldn't run and hide in that imaginary dreamscape I'd spent creating before entering her service. What was worse was that I didn't seem to possess the will to try and escape." The Queen couldn't curb a smile and she shook her head, "I was never out of her reach. I have later come to realize it was because of whom I was and who my Lord was, and I don't mean my Lord's supreme station. My Lord was… absolutely magnificent in every regard." Queen Gabrielle's last sentence didn't register above a whisper. She wasn't sure what Mitylene might think of her.
"You love the Lord Conqueror." Mitylene's reply sounded like a declaration.
Queen Gabrielle's eyes reflected puzzlement, but she repressed it immediately for she knew it would be a wordless confession to something she could not confess to.
But Mitylene gleaned the silent flitting question and said, "Whilst here, your Majesty has been speaking of the Lord Conqueror…" then added, "…a lot."
It was the first time that Queen Gabrielle had been made aware of it.
And then there was silence again. The night blew a stream of cold wind that rattled through the willows of the brook.
"Love was my power," Queen Gabrielle said as if it had just accrued to her. "Only a fellow body slave can truly grasp and comprehend the aftermath of that sort of servitude."
As Mitylene was contemplating the Queen's words, Mysia approached the lake's bank.
"Majesty, I'm sorry to disturb you. I couldn't sleep and thought a nightly stroll by the lake might do me some good. I didn't realize…"
"Please, do not apologize. You are more than welcome to join us," the Queen extended her hand in an invitation.
Mitylene nodded her head in agreement.
Mysia sat next to the two already seated women. "I couldn't help but overhear what your Majesty said about the aftermath of servitude."
"Oh," the Queen muttered.
"That was the only thing I heard, Majesty, and I simply wish to say that it deeply touched me, for I too was once a body slave," Mysia said.
"How brave you are, dear Mysia ." The Queen meant every word she said.
"Our Shamaness, for lack of better word, simply saved my life," Mysia said and hugged her folded legs.
"She is a wise and compassionate woman, indeed," the Queen affirmed.
Mitylene rose to her feet. "With your permission, Majesty, I am tired and wish to retire," she humbly said.
"Please do. Sleep well," the Queen said, wondering if Mitylene was overburdened by the presence of Mysia or rather by the content of the subject discussed.
Either way, Mitylene covered her body and left the Queen and Mysia alone at the lake. The Queen was beginning to become agitated in anticipation of her daughter's safe return, and so she rose to her feet as well.
"Majesty?" Mysia questioned.
"It is getting late and I'm cold," said the Queen and wrapped her own arms around her torso for warmth.
"May I escort your Majesty to her hut?"
"I would be delighted," answered the Queen.
As both women strolled back to the village, Mysia turned to the Queen and said, "Aside from Mitylene and myself, there are three more sisters here who are former body slaves."
"I know," the Queen answered.
"Penthesilea, Oreithyia and Naya. Naya even found love and was bonded with another sister," Mysia smiled like the very idea of finding love was a reason to be happy.
The Queen mirrored her smile, and in return Mysia 's eyes sparkled as they neared the Queen's hut.
"What about you?" the Queen inquired with mirth. "Is there someone special in your life?"
The warrior woman nearly blushed like a shy lass.
Princess Athena, who had returned from her task and had been waiting for the Queen at the entrance to her hut, observed the Mysia 's playful excitement when the Queen asked her about love.
She had been watching the Queen's Amazon trainer for quite a while now. In her opinion, Mysia had been touching the Queen's body while training her far more than necessary, such as touching her back for support, or pressing her body to the Queen's while demonstrating body movements and such.
Being a trained warrior herself, and familiar with the ways of the world, Athena knew she could trust her own judgment, and if she thought that the warrior Amazon was sniffing around her mother, then she probably was. She remembered the Conqueror's order to her not to meddle in the Queen's private affairs, just before the Conqueror had left. Athena wondered if that was what the Conqueror had had in mind or had foreseen when she had issued that order.
Nevertheless, at that moment, young Princess Athena knew exactly what she wanted to say to the Amazon: ' You and I are warriors. We understand life's most basic codes. As you must have gathered, her Majesty the Queen is vulnerable and is in need of consolation these days, for her Lord is not with her. But I warn you, should you keep trying to get into her Majesty's breeches, I swear to you that the Realm will fall on your head like a…'
"Athena," the Queen sighed in relief as soon as her gaze spotted Athena, who wasn't aware that she was glaring at Mysia with the look of death in her eyes.
Upon hearing her mother calling her, Athena snapped out of her thoughts. "Majesty," she said and bowed before the Queen.
"Excuse me," Queen Gabrielle said to Mysia .
"Of course, Majesty," Mysia bowed as well, then turned on her heel and strode in the direction of her own hut.
Once inside the hut, Queen Gabrielle hugged Princess Athena with all her might.
"Your message has been delivered and the ride was uneventful," Athena assured her.
Tears weld up in the Queen's eyes as she wouldn't let go of her daughter just yet. "When my Lord reads what I have written, my Lord would surely come back to me, you'll see," she sobbed quietly.
"I know, mother," Athena embraced the shorter woman who had given her life and gently rocked her. "Her Majesty will return to you soon," she said and inwardly prayed to the Gods that the obstinate Conqueror would relent.
After Athena left the hut, the Queen lay in the bed and sleep, as often these days, was just outside her reach. She pondered about the things she had told Mitylene earlier that night by the lake, and how she had never before shared those horrendous and ghastly experiences with another soul, not even her beloved Lord.
Years ago, when she had beseeched the Conqueror to abolish slavery, she'd intently minced words about what it would meant and how it would felt like to be a body slave. The Conqueror hadn't pried and hadn't expressed any desire to further inquire or learn, and the Queen hadn't volunteered to provide any details or specifics of her own private experiences. It hadn't been just because she'd assumed that the Conqueror hadn't wished to know, but also because she hadn't had the will, nor perchance the courage and sturdiness of mind, to tell.That night, when Gabrielle entered the land where dreams are being weaved, behind closed eyelids, her Lord came and made tender love to her, and as she did there was no anger, no force, no conflict and no asperity, just sweet whispers laced with deep moans and soft caress followed by moist kisses. It was the first time since her Lord had left that Gabrielle was fortunate enough to conjure her in this realm, and it was blissful, for she would remember it come morning, unlike many others that were lost.
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