Lord Conqueror of the Realm by WarriorJudge

conqueror

Lord Conqueror of the Realm 

by WarriorJudge

LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER : This story involves both love and sex 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.

VIOLENT/NON-CONSENTUAL SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER : It is a Conqueror story, so I’m afraid so.

Part 1

It was on the day of the festive military parade that marked the 6 th anniversary of the Conqueror’s reign. The streets of Corinth were colored red and black with the great Destroyer of Nations’ banners, which billowed in the warm wind. The masses that gathered in the main square to catch a glimpse of their Sovereign roared her title, as the Conqueror inspected her Imperial Guard that stood at attention.

When she’d been but a young woman of twenty-four, she’d overthrown Athens ‘ corrupted regime and overpowered warlords within and enemies surrounding Greece and gave her people law and order, peace and prosperity. She’d assembled and trained the Army of the People and her subjects had been able to thrive under the blanket of protection, which she’d been providing them for years. The Conqueror was the lawmaker and chief Justice of the Realm, and presided over all capital cases, and her brand of justice was swift and harsh, but fair and impartial.

When the parade was over and celebrations begun, the Conqueror, accompanied by her second in command and two of her garrisons, were roaming the streets and markets of the city, allowing her subjects’ adjacent adorations.

The separatist Conqueror was in high spirits that day and extremely generous with her spending. Upon arriving at the slavers block, she decided on an impulse to purchase a body slave. She wasn’t in the habit of keeping body slaves, and when her private needs demanded it, she either rented a professional or seduced an amateur. Her extraordinary and depraved sexual appetites and exploits were well-known throughout the Realm, and it only added to her ever growing reputation. It seemed that the more virile in that regard her soldiers thought her to be, the more powerful and formidable they believed her to be and their respect and admiration ran even higher. Her battle lust made her as legendary as her sword and war strategies had.

All forms of slavery were illegal in the Realm upon the Conqueror’s decree – all but one – selling yourself or your progeny in order to pay off a debt.

On the slaver’s platform, standing in an array of body servants, was a young slave of small stature, no older than 18 summers. A ray of sunshine reflected from the Conqueror’s golden armor caught her attention. She threw a brief glance and saw the Conqueror, dressed in full regal battle attire, with her golden crown on top of a long raven-black mane, steadfastly approaching the platform.

The small skittish slave caught the Conqueror’s eye for she was the only one with golden hair amongst the line of slaves and by far the most to her liking. But, wishing to savor the experience of acquiring a body slave, the Ruler decided to take her time and closely inspect the entire stock on display, though her mind had been made up.

Keeping the Conqueror’s reputation in mind, the fair-haired slave downcast her eyes, and as she tried her very best not to draw unwanted attention to herself, she remembered the only other occasion on which she had seen the Conqueror. It was right after the Conqueror had defeated Greece ‘s last enemy, Rome , and Greece ‘s existence had finally been secured. It was the day of the Conqueror’s enthroning, and the slave had been a dozen summers old back then, so innocent and naïve; it was almost laughable to her now. The Conqueror had paraded her troops through Corinth ‘s gates victorious. It had been a demonstration of pure power. Tens of thousands of Greece ‘s sons and daughters had gone out to meet their deliverer.

Perched high up on a wagon that carried various provisions, the young flaxen girl had gazed at the Destroyer of Nations quite sure she had been watching the Goddess of War, exuding raw dominance and might yet maintaining her stance before her people with a swordsman’s grace. The girl sensed an awakening of unfamiliar longing. She distinctly recalled thinking back then that it was possible for young women to be in control of their own destiny. What she hadn’t realized, what would have become apparent to her later on in life, was that the Conqueror wasn’t the rule but rather the exception to the rule.

A large dark shadow blocking the sun’s warmth from reaching her scantly clad body put an abrupt cease to the slave’s thoughts. With her gaze buried in the ground beneath her feet, the slave saw two large feet in shiny black leather boots. She felt a long callous finger run down her neck and she couldn’t suppress a shiver. She felt the finger settle under her chin and her head slowly being lifted up, and for a brief moment her green eyes met the Conqueror’s blue ones. An involuntary thought sprung to the slave’s mind that the color of the Conqueror’s eyes was an affront to the sky and the ocean.

As the Conqueror towered over the slave, she reached for the tag around the latter’s neck stating her age, the names of her two previous owners and her price. As the Conqueror perused the small parchment, the slave felt sudden shame that the tag didn’t even state her name, but quickly got over it. She was a slave. Given her function, her name was not a pertinent piece of information.

” Seven hundreds…that’s a tad steep for a slave of her age,” the Conqueror addressed the slaver. She had never haggled with traders. She believed it to be vulgar, especially for a Ruler of her stature, but curiosity got the better of her.

“She was hardly ever used, my Liege ,” he answered as he nervously danced around the Conqueror.

The Conqueror took another quick look at the tag. ” Her first owner… ?” the Conqueror inquired as she noticed that the white skin of the slave had not a single mark on it.

As the Conqueror and slave trader casually conversed over her head, as if she was not there, the slave realized that even though she stood on a platform, the Conqueror was much higher than her, a good foot higher.

“A well-renowned healer, my Liege . She was 13 summers, back then, and so she was bought for domestic labor only,” he replied. “After she had sprouted breasts, the Lady of the house caught her husband fondling her and the girl was resold.”

Upon mentioning the slave’s breasts, the Conqueror observed that the grey rag that bound them was extremely tight around them. She figured the girl must have done so for the purpose of making her breasts seem smaller than their actual size, so as to make them less appealing.

“And her second owner…?” the Conqueror asked.

“Phillipon, commander of the third battalion, bought her for his youngest son as a body servant, but I can assure my Liege he hardly used her. As it so happens, he prefers young lads,” he replied.

The Conqueror moved her eyes over the slave one last time, as if still contemplating whether to make the buy or not. Finally she muttered “Very well” in the general direction of the slave trader and waved her hand to her second in command, signaling him to exchange money for goods. She then unsheathed her sword with one swift motion. The young slave’s legs gave out from under her and she fell to her knees, thinking her miserable life was finally over. The Conqueror lowered her sword to her new body slave’s neck and cut off the tag from around her neck, not leaving even the smallest of scratches on her flesh.

As the Conqueror pondered the beautiful sight of her property kneeling at her feet, she turned to her two garrisons and ordered them, “Collar her.” She returned to the celebrations, while her slave was being dragged to the palace with a new leather collar around her neck, which bore the Conqueror’s crest.

It was night-time, and the Conqueror’s chambers were poorly lit by a few candles and by the fire slowly burning at the hearth. The Conqueror’s chambers were designed in good and expensive taste: fine exotic carpets, exquisite wooden craftsmanship all around, excellent silk linen and bedspreads, and a vast stony balcony that overlooked the sea and breathtaking landscapes as far as the eye could see. The Conqueror appreciated esthetics and beautiful things around her.

At last came blessed solitude. The liquor cabinet was the Conqueror’s first station. She poured a fine brand of intoxicant into a silver chalice. Next she picked up her pipe and stuffed it with some burly blend of eastern tobacco. When brimful, she placed the pipe between her lips and lit it. Only then did she turn her attention to the young slave waiting on her knees.

“On your feet.”

The young slave quickly complied. The enormous bulge that rested between the Conqueror’s chiseled thighs didn’t escape her.

“Take off the frock and show me what’s mine.”

With fumbling fingers the slave removed the plain garment, which had been given to her at the pen, exposing her nakedness to the Conqueror’s appreciating eyes. Being alone in the Conqueror’s presence was almost more than she could bear.

“Go to my bed and kneel on all fours.”

The slave did as she was ordered by the Conqueror’s sonorous voice. She didn’t see how the Conqueror’s ravenous eyes inspected her back side, but she could feel it on her bare flesh. From behind her, the slave could hear the Conqueror’s strides closing the gap between them. Next she heard the Conqueror unbuckling her belt.

The Conqueror’s leather trousers fell down to her ankles. Almost lazily, she unbuttoned her white silk top, exposing her heated muscular form to the night’s air. She licked her palm and then rubbed it against her shaft harnessed to her groin for lubrication. It was a recent purchase and the leather covering the wooden shaft was still stiff and rigid. She guided its tip to the slave’s opening, pushing the moist folds aside to better access the girl.

“Arch your back,” she commanded and placed her free hand over the slave’s midriff, nudging her downwards so that her rear would be sufficiently elevated. The Conqueror could see the slight form before her tensing, bracing herself for what was inevitably to follow.

When ready, the Conqueror leaned down and cupped the girl’s breasts, which were larger as previously had been suspected, and with a sharp jab of her crotch filled her up completely.

After a few urgent thrusts and a few determined squeezes to the slave’s ample breasts and tight buttocks, it was over with a strained grunt.

As the Conqueror was catching her breath sprawled over the slave’s back, the latter did her best to curb her surprise that it had taken the Conqueror the same amount of time and effort to achieve her release that it would have taken a lad half her age.

As soon as she was able, the Conqueror got off her slave and tidied up her cloths. When her guards came to escort the slave back to the pen, she handed out her last order for the day:

“Make sure she’s properly fed.”

The next morning, when the Conqueror woke up, the first thing that sprung to her mind was the slave’s softness and her sweet scent.
Part 2

The next day, three candle marks after the sun had reached its highest point in the sky, the Conqueror found herself in a meeting with delegates from Chin regarding treaties that would enable free and safe trading with the Realm. The Conqueror found it tedious and she was thoroughly bored, for it went on for longer than expected. Her mind started to disturbingly wander from the subjects discussed around the table to the slave she had had the previous night, and how delicious and soft her body had felt against hers and how beautiful her face had been, and how exciting it had been to witness her buttocks glistening in the dim light when she had finished with her.

The meeting was finally over and not a moment too soon. The sun had already set and the Conqueror sent for the slave to be brought to her.

The guards that escorted the slave to the Conqueror’s suite left her standing at the threshold. She saw the Conqueror, donned in an oriental silk and satin robe, sitting at her massive desk reading some parchments resting on the desk before her .

The slave instinctively undressed, tentatively walked towards the Conqueror and knelt at her feet, but the Conqueror kept her waiting for a long time, and disregarded the slave’s barely visible wriggles on her knees . After a solid candle-mark had passed, the Conqueror rose to her feet .

” Lay down on my desk,” the Conqueror ordered and opened her robe, partly exposing a strong lengthy body.

As the slave climbed onto the desk and rested her back against its cold surface, the Conqueror caught the slave’s gaze transfixed on her phallus. The Conqueror’s hands began to move quickly over the slave’s splayed body, dexterously kneading her flesh, as she invaded the slave’s womanhood. She then raised her arm and delivered a harsh slap to the girl’s breast while fiercely driving herself in and out of her. The slave’s body jerked but she never uttered a sound.

Another powerful slap reddened the slave’s other breast and she bit down her lower lip to keep a yelp from escaping her mouth.

The Conqueror, never neglecting her commanding thrusts, grabbed the slave’s petite wrists and lifted them above the slave’s head, anchoring them on the edge of the desk and making the slave’s curvaceous body taut and immobile. The girl’s neck seduced the Conqueror to take a bite, and she did, leaving a bruise on the tender skin.

The pace of the Conqueror’s grindings quickened, letting the slave know her Master’s release was fast approaching, and when her pleasure overtook her, the Conqueror buried her face into the slave’s neck and let out a groan carried by a scorching breath.

It didn’t take the Conqueror long to recover. She disentangled herself from the girl and fastened back her robe.

“You may walk around freely within the palace walls when time allows and only before sunset,” the Conqueror said without looking at the girl.

“Thank you, my Lord ,” the slave replied with her head down.

“When you do, you must always let the steward of my household know of your whereabouts, for I will not be made to wait for you. ”

“Of course, my Lord.”

“Under no circumstance will you leave these grounds.”

“I won’t, my Lord.”

“You are dismissed.”

***

In the following three moons, a form of routine was established. When not servicing the Conqueror, the slave explored the sizable palace and its complex structure and the vast grounds surrounding it. There were corridors upon corridors, bridges upon bridges and chambers and huge halls, in which the slave often found herself lost before finding her way again. The palace was built at the highest point close to sea, and the port of Corinth could be seen from the Conqueror’s vast balcony, less than a quarter of a day’s ride from Athens.

The slave was elated when she discovered the royal library that housed an extensive collection of scrolls, and made it her habit to frequent it to broaden her mind, and escape the hardship of her plight. It was then she was truly thankful that her father hadn’t been one to believe that teaching a daughter to read was a waste of time and effort.

But her favorite spot was in the Royal gardens at the lily pond with the peacocks and the swans and the sight that was spread from the bridge above it and the colors of the water lilies close to dusk.

She learned that the Conqueror’s paid servants, who maintained her household, lived with their families in the servants’ quarters within the palace walls. She took it upon herself to occupy their children so that they wouldn’t disrupt their parents’ duties. When the weather permitted it she strolled and played with them in the magnificent Royal gardens, and when it rained they remained indoors and listened to the elaborate stories the fertile imagination of a slave composed.

At first their parents hadn’t been thrilled by the notion of a body slave minding their precious innocent children, knowing what her purpose in the palace had been; but once they saw how patient, kind and gentle she was with them, they were willing to disregard their reservations and judge her by merits alone.

One day in the kitchen the slave offered to help the assistant cook chopping fresh vegetables and such, but the cook, a heavy grey-haired woman, shook her head in protest and kept the slave from reaching the set of knives.

” The type of services she provides requires her hands to be smooth and soft,” she told her assistant, ” not rough and callous by any real labor.”

The young slave’s first reaction to the cook’s words was surprise, but suddenly she became aware of the collar around her neck. By then she understood that it was the collar that identified her place in the scheme of things. Perhaps it was the years of servitude that prevented the young slave from taking offense by the cook’s words, but they also made her realize that the Conqueror never demanded to be touched by her hands.

Most people in the palace left her alone and refrained from having anything to do with her. While some gave her the occasional repulsed look or unkind word, she took it all in her stride.

One morning, as she was taking her breakfast, the Conqueror’s chambermaid, whom she had seen in the palace from time to time, entered the kitchen.

“Good morning,” the slave politely offered to the woman who reminded her of her sister.

“ Good morning to you, too, ” the chambermaid reciprocated and went to examine the content of the kettles over one of the burning stoves. “ You must be the Conqueror’s new body slave,” she said with her back turned to the slave.

The slave dropped her head down.

“ My name is Satrina and I was the Conqueror’s body slave too, so you needn’t be shy with me, ” she said and joined the slave at the table. “ The Conqueror grew tired of me after less than a moon. Let me see… That was three winters ago. I was the last body slave the Conqueror ever acquired. I’m still a slave, but the Conqueror was gracious enough to grant me the privilege of my current position as chambermaid rather than have me resold.”
From then on, the two were friendly. Whenever they met, they would talk about their days, about their childhoods, but never about the Conqueror and never about their service to the Conqueror. It made the slave feel a little less isolated.

During these moons, the Conqueror summoned her slave for service once or twice, sometimes even three times a day, and it seemed as if her hunger for the slave had been growing as days passed by.

The Conqueror devoured the slave’s body. She took her in every imaginable position… from behind, from the side, facing her, sitting down with the slave sitting on the Conqueror’s knees impaled by the harnessed shaft, and sometimes she pushed her shaft into the slave’s mouth. She took her in all places conceivable… in the Conqueror’s private chambers, against the walls, on the floor, over furniture, in her bath, in her stables on fresh harvested hay, not minding whether the stable boy was there or not, in halls where the Conqueror held her meetings, in her gardens, in the woods on the south end of the palace either against trees, or on the hard ground, on military drilling fields, in her armory, wherever her fancy would take her. The Conqueror sent for her slave at all hours of the night, and the slave, still hazed with slumber, was led to meet with her Lord’s desires.

No words were ever exchanged between them other than what was absolutely necessary for service purposes. The slave never expected anything else. She was a body slave. She was under no misconception. Her sole duty was clear and undeniable, to obey her Master’s carnal desires, nothing more. Any childish hopes and aspirations had long disappeared, so much so that the slave couldn’t even recall them or who she had been and how she had felt before she had been sold into slavery.

She learned to predict her Lord’s preferences quite quickly and to address them even before an order had been issued. The slave particularly noticed the extensive attention her Lord paid to her rear twin globes and the orifice at the valley between them. The first time her Lord had penetrated it with her massive tool, pushing into the tight tunnel to fit her measure, the slave bled and couldn’t walk straight or sit down easily for a fortnight. She could hardly contain it. However, with the ever-growing use of it, the easier it became to accommodate her Lord’s length.

***

One evening after three moons had passed, Karpa, the steward of the Conqueror’s household, gave the Conqueror an oral report regarding the state of her household.

Karpa was a chubby and somewhat pallid old man with snowy sparse hair and reddish cheeks. He was old school, to be sure. Straight as an arrow he was, and practiced his profession methodically and with an outstanding efficiency and precision. He honored the Conqueror, neither out of fear nor out of reverence for her office necessarily, but out of genuine respect for her conduct of governance.

“You may hire two more hands, if needed. Is that all?” the Conqueror asked him when he was finished.

” Well, I assume your Majesty has already heard about Gabrielle’s heroic deed today, ” he said and wheezed.

” Who?”

” Gabrielle, your Majesty ” he repeated.

When he saw that the Conqueror’s features remained sealed and didn’t give any indication that she realized about whom had he spoken of, the old steward did his very best to conceal his shock at the fact that the Conqueror never took the trouble to learn the name of the lass that serviced her so intimately. Respectfully, he cleared his throat and replied: “Your Majesty’s personal servant.”

The Conqueror remained stoic. ” What has she done? ”

“Well, early this morning while she was strolling in the royal gardens, she saw nobleman Perous’ young boy fall down a high fence he was trying to climb. He broke his leg and there was blood everywhere. She picked him up and rushed him inside where she set the bone and stopped the bleeding. She asked us to bring her certain herbs from which she concocted some smelly salve which reduce the swelling.”

“Why didn’t the healer treat the boy?”

“It had taken the healer six candle marks to get here. He had been otherwise engaged. We were so very fortunate she was there, your Majesty, or the child’s life would have been lost. She seemed to know what she was doing,” he said, not without the proper amount of enthusiasm.

The Conqueror seemed unmoved.

” Why is nobleman Perous staying in the palace?” The Conqueror finally said.

“He asks for an audience with your Majesty.”

“Tell him I will see him tomorrow morning. Now, have her sent to my chambers . ”

When the slave appeared in the Conqueror’s suite, she was ordered to bend over a chair, but the Conqueror’s voice that night sounded slightly less determined than usual.
Part 3
After she had concluded a successful campaign in southern Gaul, the Conqueror and the Imperial Guard, along with two of her legions, made their way back home. Since Corinth was over a day’s ride back, the Conqueror ordered her troops to make camp at the outskirts of town and made an overnight stop at a tavern along the way, accompanied only by her highest ranking officers.

The tavern in which she chose to do her guzzling that night wasn’t one of the more renowned or prestigious ones in the Realm. However, it suited her purposes. The innkeeper and the barmaids nearly trampled over themselves serving her and her entourage. Trays loaded with food and drinks ceaselessly made their way to the best table in the house, but the Conqueror’s appetite demanded something else entirely. The campaign had dragged out a fortnight longer than expected, and a battlefield was hardly the place for a body slave. The Conqueror had left her body slave in Corinth, for she believed the slave might take focus away from her soldiers.

The Conqueror took a hearty draught of mead and signaled the Innkeeper for a refill.

“Has anyone in particular caught my Liege’s eye?” asked the Innkeeper when he filled up her goblet.

“That young thing over there,” the Conqueror said and pointed her finger in the direction of an unattended slattern, the best looking in the house, who was lounging at the feet of the stairs.

The Innkeeper immediately clapped his hands and the young brunette quickly made her way to the Conqueror’s table.

With the fire of battle burning in her veins, the Conqueror wasted no time. She rose to her feet, and her officers in respect rose to their feet with her. She bade them good night and took the tavern’s wench upstairs.

In the room she had rented, the Conqueror turned to the girl she had picked.

“Do you know who I am?” She asked.

“I do, your Majesty,” the young woman replied.

“Have you heard of my reputation?” she inquired further.

“I have, your Majesty.”

The Conqueror paused and examined what stood before her. “Good,” she finally said, “so you know what to expect. Go lay on the bed,” the Conqueror instructed her.

The woman smiled seductively and began to disrobe. She walked over to the bed. Her occupation was evident in each of her movements, her manners all business-like, her expressions artificial and cheap, and nothing like the golden-haired slave that waited for the Conqueror at home.

The Conqueror moved her eyes over the body that was lying on the bed, and her mind became haunted with the angelic slave she had left in Corinth, and how she pined for her softness and her sweet scent. Her will left her and the roaring need she had felt simmered down. She had no desire to take what she paid for, and it bothered her.

The courtesan wore a puzzled look on her face when she saw the Conqueror dallying. A look, the Conqueror realized, her slave had never given her, wouldn’t have dared given her, and the Gods knew the Conqueror had given her plenty of reasons.

The Conqueror let out a deep heavy grunt as she reached for her inside pocket and retrieved a golden coin. “Do you know what I’m buying?” she asked the harlot as she took the smaller hand into hers, unfolded the shorter fingers and placed the golden coin in the harlot’s palm.

“My silence, your Majesty,” the harlot replied.

“Indeed,” the Conqueror confirmed.

The harlot closed the palm that contained more than she could earn in a season tightly, and said: “Your Majesty is too kind.”

“You will wait here for two candle marks, then leave.”

“I will, your Majesty.”

After two candle marks had passed, the harlot was about to leave the room.

“Your Majesty can trust me. A good prostitute is a discrete prostitute, and I’m very good at what I do,” she said before she left.

When alone in her room, the Conqueror was left to deeply ponder about her pathetic and unprecedented failure brought on by an incomprehensible obsession she had with a slave, a nobody, a nothing. True, the Conqueror found her very much to her liking and the girl served her better than any other that had come before her, but this carrying on was quite out of proportion. This was unacceptable. This could not stand.

Come dawn, the Conqueror made her way back to camp and mobilized her army back to Corinth. At dusk, when she entered her city, her subjects greeted her and her triumphant army with drums, flowers and merriment. Only this time, the Conqueror didn’t linger to enjoy her subjects’ gratitude. The Conqueror made her way, unaccompanied, to the temple of the Fates, which she hasn’t visited since her brother had been killed all those years ago.

There was fire burning on the altar. The Conqueror held a small leather pouch containing 700 Dinars, and threw it into the flames.

“This is her price,” she stated. “She’s worth even less now that I’ve used her. Whatever my debt is, it is now paid in full.”

But when the Conqueror was riding back to her palace, the young slave kept occupying her mind, an infraction she would be forced to pay dearly for.

In the Royal stables, the Conqueror dismounted her mare, handed the reigns over to the stable boy and took a riding crop and a branding iron with her.

Before she entered her chambers, the Conqueror had taken a burning torch from the corridor’s wall. It was time to punish her slave for spoiling other women for her, a time to put her in her proper place.

When she set foot inside her suite, a thick heavy darkness one could almost touch was ambient like an omnibus cloak. Surrounded by utter darkness, the small flame nearly blinded her sight at first but it soon dispelled the darkness.

With a broad slow movement of her arm, she illuminated her surroundings. As the cast rays were arcing in the shadows, she spotted her slave kneeling at the foot of her bed wearing nothing but her collar and a familiar blank expression on her face, as if no time had passed, as if nothing had happened, as if she wasn’t about to face the Destroyer of Nations provoked by unspent battle lust and barely reticent rage.

The Conqueror lit up the hearth and placed the tip of the branding iron in the whispering glowing ambers. As she affixed the torch against the wall, the Conqueror remembered earlier days when she hadn’t cared whether it had been lust or hatred she had seen in her conquests’ eyes, believing fire was fire.

An uncanny force compelled the slave to seek after her Lord’s intentions, but when her eyes fell on the branding iron reddening in the fire, her blood ran cold and fled her face in a rush. She considered that she must appear whiter than the wall she found herself briefly leaning against. She distinctly felt a shiver run down her spine and her palms broke icy sweat. However, true to form the slave composed herself in a blink of an eye.

Intently, the Conqueror fixated her eyes on the slave’s illusive countenance, as if it was narrating the secrets of the universe to her. She immediately understood the significance of it, as though in absolute lucidity.

Livid, the Conqueror grabbed the slave by her collar and hoisted her up in the air. Her blood lust-induced strength was unrivaled and awesome.

“You are my whore,” the Conqueror stated like she had just caught some eluding truth for the first time. She then careened her head slightly to the left as though to better penetrate her slave with her glare. “That is all you are,” she declared.

Rough hands landed the slave prone on her back atop the spacious desk. The hands pursued to cup the slave’s milky breasts. “Let there be no misunderstanding…” the Conqueror said as she secured one hand over the slave’s mouth while the other traveled between the girl’s thighs. “That is all you’ll ever be,” she said with a curious smile that was chilling in its gentleness.

The Conqueror unbuckled her leather belt. “And you’ll be treated as such,” she spoke her words intentionally. She wanted her words of exhortation limpid. She incapacitated her slave, who was no bigger than half her size against the desk.

With her mouth throttled, the slave was incapable of offering any pleading, even if she wanted to, which she didn’t. She was a slave and that’s what she was there for.

“Silly sentiments,” the Conqueror began whilst leading the distended head of her protruding phallus into the slave’s opening, “are tedious redundant blabbering. Lust,” she continued and pushed herself into the slave’s tight sex, “is brief and to the point.”

She withdrew the enormous assault-organ, and burnished its length with the slave’s moisture, but her need to have knowledge of her slave and to share knowledge with her ushered it back into its natural habitat.

The dark Lord could feel her erection being augmented, becoming harder and stiffer against the body she was taking. She could feel the slave’s depth around her shaft.

“I’ve killed any sentiments I had for my dead brother.” The first thrust of her member was barbaric and scathing, but the Conqueror didn’t hear a scream. “I’ve killed warriors and warlords in battle.” She crammed herself into the slave a second time. “I’ve killed their wives after taking my pleasure.” The Conqueror kept on driving her device in and out of the slave’s womanhood, dipping it forcefully again and again for her selfish satisfaction and hearing nothing but her own crude voice.

The slave could hear the chill in her Lord’s voice; she felt the shaming penetration between her legs and the humiliating betrayal of her body against the Conqueror’s drillings into her. Her head, as always, was turned away from the Conqueror, but the Conqueror gripped her face in her hand and forced the slave to meet her eyes.

Never neglecting her gagging hand over the slave’s mouth, the Conqueror leaned down till she almost covered the prostrated slave. When her face was but a hair away from the slave’s, she asked a question that imbued fear of a previously unparalleled kind in the slave.

“How hard do you think it would be for me to kill you?” The rhythm of the Conqueror’s pounding quickened, as did her rasping grunts of cathartic pleasure. “I’m life and death to you,” she said and wrapped her hand around the slave’s throat. “I own you,” another raw jab roved into the swollen slit, “my worthless whore.” The ram that followed her latest words was the deepest yet and elicited an unbridled cringe out of the slave.

The Conqueror suddenly halted herself, still buried inside the quivering slick flesh. “You brought it on yourself, didn’t you? You provoke me because you enjoy me grinding myself into you like this, don’t you?” The Conqueror asked as her mouth was at the slave’s ear, and her thick tongue traced its rim. Her voice was staid, low and hoarse and her eyes were extinguished, inert and glazed like dark cobalt marbles. They peered directly into the eyes of the lachrymose slave, but couldn’t be bothered enough with really seeing them.

The Conqueror’s tongue lathed the slave’s face, hoarding the sweet salty tears, and then her sharp teeth sank into the slave’s nipple, making the sensitive bud buzz with heat.

The Conqueror released her hold over the slave and got off her. After a few short moments, she returned with her crop and with her exacting hand she taught her slave the very definition of ‘Possession’ by introducing flagellation that left beautiful pulsating welts all over the slave’s overwrought flesh. The Conqueror ordered the slave to turn around and lift up her backside and gave the slave’s buttocks and thighs the same harsh, uncompromising treatment.

Finally, the Conqueror went to retrieve the branding iron from the hearth. She clutched it in her merciless hand. The Conqueror’s insignia on its circled end disseminated a healthy orange glow like a freshly salvaged ember still ensnaring live fire.

Maintaining her scowl, the Conqueror’s steel grasp put an end to the smaller body’s pointless flailing, leaving the slave with nothing to do but shrink above the table, eyes riveted on the burning metal.

“This will insure you’ll never forget what you are and to whom you belong,” the Conqueror chided and with the incandescent iron rod, she reinforced her words by heartlessly stamping the right side of slave’s back, just below her shoulder, branding what was hers. The sizzling grilling of the flesh, like the slave’s shrieks of horror, cries and whimpers of harrowing pain, fell on deaf ears, as though the Conqueror had been submerged under water, incapable of hearing anything that existed outside her head.

When it was over, the Conqueror examined the cauterized wound.

“Like a birthmark…” She smiled sinisterly, and the virile rocking of her pelvis continued. “You should have been born with it,” she said and ran a probing finger over the permanent, long overdue memento she had singed into the body of her slave.

The slave tried to keep her body from trembling with sheer fright and the frenzied beatings of her heart were matched by the Conqueror’s pounding into her. She felt a slap against the lower part of her buttock, in the way of a man praising a fine horse who has carried him well.

After the Conqueror finished, she pulled herself out of the slave, then yanked the latter to the ground. The slave quickly and silently assumed a kneeling position at her Lord’s feet.

The Conqueror fed the slave’s garments to the hearth, making it perfectly clear to the slave that she was to return to the pen exposed, allowing all she would chance along the way to witness her Lord’s mark on her.

A knock on the door signaled the Conqueror’s guards to enter her suite, which reeked with the odor of sex and burnt flesh.

“I’m done with her. Get her out of my sight,” she commanded.

On the way to the pen, one of the guards lost his supper at the sight of the slave’s body and the smell he had gotten a whiff of.

As she was lying on her stomach on the pallet back at the pen, after she had tended to the fresh wound on her back, the slave soothed her mind by telling herself not to take the Conqueror’s obscenities to heart and to simply be grateful that she had survived her Lord’s infamous battle lust.

The next day, just after sunset, the slave prepared herself for service by rubbing scented oils on her skin and accentuating the color of her lips to please her Lord, but she wasn’t summoned. She wasn’t summoned the next day either. When a solid moon had gone by, another sort of dread nestled within her. She knew the Conqueror hadn’t left her palace. In fact, she’d even seen her from afar on occasion, and yet her service hadn’t been resumed. The slave never neglected her daily preening ritual, notwithstanding.

She busied herself with watching over the staff’s children and reading in the Royal library, keeping her persistent thoughts at bay; but at nights, barring them became impossible. What would be her lot if her Lord had lost her taste for her? Would she be resold or would her Lord keep her nevertheless out of pity? Was her Lord capable of mercy? Had her Lord taken another in her stead? Had her Lord found her new servant to be preferable to her?

Did it really matter?

Slaves needn’t have pride, she told herself.

When at last she was summoned for service, she all but sighed in relief.
Part 4
Three winters came and went, since the Campaign in Gaul and the night of the slave’s branding.

In those days, the Conqueror’s madness for her slave neither lessened nor subsided. Her moods, in regards to her slave, moved erratically like a pendulum, between unfathomable fury and utter indifference.

When driven by fury, the Conqueror didn’t spare her arm. She would take her whip, her belt, her crop or any other thing close at hand to her slave and would beat and lash her with it. At times she would revel in her slave’s tears, but other times she would rage at the sight of them. Sometimes the Conqueror would either bind the slave’s hands or tie her up completely during service. However, on other occasions she would leave the slave to brace herself with nothing safe or steady to cling to.

The Conqueror was easily capable of terminating her slave’s life with a single blow. One wouldn’t have known it by looking at her raging face, but when she beat her slave, she was never entirely out of control. On the contrary, she was in control of her wrath and mastered her faculties. Her hands were steady; the strikes she delivered were very precise. She never broke any of her slave’s bones nor did she leave any scars on her skin. She never left a mark that wouldn’t fade away after more than several days. It was as if the Conqueror delivered her brutality onto the slave in order to extract some clandestine secret, some hidden reaction she thought her slave was denying her.

The Conqueror’s actions weren’t motivated by lust alone, but also by the notion that any foolish affection she had for the golden-haired slave would bring about the ruin of her empire, an end to her reign. Some days she wanted to end both their lives and others she wanted nothing but to softly embrace the young woman and shower her with gentle kisses. A slave cannot own their master, the Conqueror firmly believed, and this slave relegated her Master into a wild animal, a raving monomaniac, because she felt and because of how she felt – not capable of restraining tender thoughts she had about a piece of property.

The slave observed and absorbed her Lord’s measures and proceedings, with silent obedience. She would quietly submit to her Lord’s desires, and served her just as she always had. She never offered any resistance, nor voiced any grievances for all her Lord’s degrading cruelty. She noticed the shifts in her Lord’s moods, to be sure, but could not understand what had changed since the time before Gaul and the time after. Eventually, the slave convinced herself that perhaps during the campaign in Gaul, her Lord had simply acquired other tastes during her various exploits.

And there was possessiveness, of course, which was an unerring inciter of the irate Conqueror. The Conqueror’s jealousy that seemed to stem out of nowhere was limitless. Whenever she had an occasion to catch her slave showing kindness to another, the Conqueror would do her very best to arrest within her the tyranny of darkness, which was constantly searching for the flimsiest of excuses to volley forth. More often than not she would succeed knowing she was capable of snuffing the life out of her slave with no effort. Other times, the Conqueror would take the slave savagely and threaten to put a tent in the military drilling field, have her slave placed naked there with nothing other than support for her back, and order her soldiers to take their turn with her. The threat, naturally, never came to fruition, for the Conqueror would never allow another to lay a finger on what was hers; but was affective, as the horror in the slave’s eyes and the quivering of her chin could attest to.

One night a young lad carrying with him some urgent message that needed to be conveyed came to the Conqueror’s chambers, whilst the slave was servicing her Lord. When she gave him permission to enter, the slave immediately covered her nakedness with a blanket, but not immediately enough in the Conqueror’s mind.

The Conqueror dragged the surprised slave by her hair, and ordered the lad to follow her. She swiftly strode down to the palace dungeon, the frightened lad running behind her in an attempt to keep up.

In the dark and dank holding cell, the slave saw a pillory. The pillory consisted of hinged hefty wooden boards that formed holes through which the head and hands were to be inserted.

After she had placed the slave’s head and hands in their suitable place, the Conqueror locked the boards together to secure the captive, leaving her to remain standing and exposed in a bending position.

When raging jealousy was upon her, what shred of humanity the Conqueror possessed evaporated like dust in the wind, and all that remained was the body, a machine, operating on its own accord, driving her forward to quell the voices inside her that chanted “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

The Conqueror’s large hand landed with immense impetus on the slave exposed rear cheek and loosed a yelp of agony out of her mouth.

“Who owns this?” the Conqueror asked, still cupping and pulling at the fleshy taut globe.

“My Lord?!” the slave didn’t understand what she was instructed.

“Tell the lad who owns this, and don’t make me repeat myself,” the Conqueror demanded louder than before and pulled at the flesh she was grabbing harder.

“You, my Lord.”

Another harsh spank landed on the other cheek soon after, leaving a stinging sensation at impact. Not giving the slave a moment to recover, the Conqueror’s wicked, powerful hand delivered a series of slaps to the exact same spot, leaving sizzling handprints over the slave’s white flesh.

“Then you shouldn’t have displayed what’s mine, should you?” the Conqueror admonished her and planted another hard almighty slap on the slave’s buttocks that caused her assaulted flesh to ripple with the sheer force of it.

“Did you think you could seduce the boy and allow him in here?” The exacting hand resumed the heinous unabated smacks to the slave’s buttocks, not giving her a chance to compose herself in between strikes.

“No, my Lord” the slave’s voice was trembling with faint sobs. There was no reasoning with her Lord and no point offering denial to appease her Lord. An odd notion passed through her mind then: how terrible and cruel it was that her Lord was so beautiful and so impressive.

The Conqueror relished her handiwork, which was the seething red flesh against her palm. “Why not?” she asked, taking her crop and shoving its handle into the orifice she enjoyed best.

When the slave felt the cold rigid handle slithering into her, she began shuddering in absolute panic like a leaf in the wind. “Because I belong to my Lord, and only my Lord can use what’s hers,” the slave replied in anguish, trying to placate her tormentor.

“Bring me the wax and a torch,” the Conqueror ordered the young messenger.

Without keeping his Master waiting, the lad brought the required items with due diligence.

“Hot wax is quite effective in causing pain, but even more effective when poured on beaten flesh,” the Conqueror explained. “The lower the point of origin, the hotter and more painfully burning it is.” The Conqueror positioned the bar of wax over the flaming torch, which she held not two inches above the sore and bruised flesh. Washing in the flickering flames of the fire, she was watching the red wax as it was slowly melting away and waited for the first drop to hit its mark. The sight of the red wax dripping along the girl’s rear valley, securing the crop handle within her slave, aroused the Conqueror. She moved from behind the slave, came to stand in front of her, and inserted her phallus into the slave’s gullet.

Cringing, the young man was forced to bear witness to the slave’s chastisement and to the Conqueror forcing the slave to swallow the warm liquid of her release and dispensing it all over her face, wetting them completely.

“She will remain here, exactly as she is now until this time tomorrow,” the Conqueror ordered and left the dungeon.

The following night, two guards released the slave from the pillory and left her there to her own devises. They knew better than to touch her, and she had to remove on her own the Conqueror’s crop from the place it had been lodged the night before. Another thing happened that night. The Conqueror had moved her from the pen and into a minor plain chamber, no bigger than a prison cell, with a large window not far from the Conqueror’s suite, where the slave had a pallet, a stool, a small table and some garments.

The slave wasn’t summoned for service for a fortnight after the night in the dungeon.

During those years, the slave recognized a pattern. It was only after the nights on which her Lord took her violently that a considerable amount of time elapsed before she would be summoned again.

What the slave didn’t know was that after such sessions, the Conqueror would spend day after day practicing her war skills, riding her mare or exhausting herself with matters of state to arrest her yearnings for the slave. She would spend night after night alone in her bed denying herself the company of her slave until she could regain control of herself, knowing full well there was no point in trying to take pleasure from another. No one other than her slave would do; no one other than her slave could fully sate her the way her young beatific slave could.

Only after the Conqueror was convinced that the wall around her had been secure again and her anger had dissipated did she ask that her slave be brought to her, and then the Conqueror would keep her demands basic. She wouldn’t have the girl in her presence longer than was needed, and the slave remained with most of her garments on during service.
Part 5

Into her fourth winter of her service to the Conqueror, more children were placed under the slave’s care, and she expended her knowledge in the art of healing by apprenticing for the palace chief healer. Although her days were filled with activities, she never forgot to inform Karpa, the steward of the household, of her whereabouts so to constantly be available for servicing her Lord.

Her endeavors had reached the Conqueror’s ear along with the fact that some had referred to her slave as ‘Lady Gabrielle’. When she caught a glimpse of her slave in passing, she noticed a slight change in her demeanors, a little more confidence perhaps. If it weren’t for the collar around her neck and the plain frock on her back, she could almost be mistaken for a free woman. Her slave had been efficiently concealing any evidence of her Lord’s ruthlessness either left on her body or anywhere else, and the slave’s surface was serene, unrevealing and dignified.

The palace was buzzing that morning with arduous preparations for the summit, which was to be held between Britannia’s emissaries and the Realm regarding the terms of Britannia’s surrender to the Conqueror. The palace’s maids splashed buckets of water and on their knees scrubbed the floors with large brushes. The gardeners trimmed the shrubbery, the trees and the grass and decorated the royal gardens with freshly planted flowers. Livestock came under the butcher’s blade, and the kitchen’s staff under the head cook’s supervision arranged and readied the facility and stocked necessary provisions.

The commotion in the place caused the slave unexplainable exhilaration. She knew, of course, she wouldn’t take any part in any of the formal events, nor be at her Lord’s side during negotiations. Nor would she be at her Lord’s side during the formal greetings or have a place at her Lord’ table at the banquets, but rather she would wait in her chamber for her Lord’s summon for pleasure or take her meals in the kitchen with the rest of the domestics.

During past winters, the arrival of envoys from within the Realm’s provinces and from outside of it were common, but the surrender of Britannia was by far the greatest event of them all.

At noon, the first wave of the King of Britannia’s entourage arrived at the palace. The advisors, tacticians, and military personal and their wives were shown to their quarters in the Conqueror’s palace by the servants, under the watchful eye of Karpa. Every aspect of the Conqueror’s hospitality under Karpa’s conduction was nothing short of preciseness and flawlessness.

The body slaves of the more distinguished guests, who were also accompanied by their wives, were placed in the pen, but the body slave owned by the king’s right hand was accommodated in the chamber next to the Conqueror’s body slave.

After the arrival of the King’s right hand and his wife, he was shown to the Great Hall. The Conqueror, in her formal regal attire, sat on her throne.

The ceremony master announced their names as they entered the Great Hall, which as vast in size and ornamented with marble pillars, Corinthian order style with lion capitals at their top, along the Great Hall’s length on both sides and with unique arched windows. On its stony walls, there were murals which told the stories of the Conqueror’s many quests.

The Conqueror signaled them to approach her throne with a wave of her hand.

“Your Majesty,” he bowed before her and his wife curtsied. ” It is a great honor to come before your Majesty on behalf of Britannia, and for your Majesty’s pleasure,” he said.

” We welcome you to the Realm,” the Conqueror offered.

As the banquet was taking place at the Great Hall, the King’s right hand’ body slave, Malia, joined the Conqueror’s body slave who was sitting at a small table next to the larder, alone in the kitchen.

“May I join you?” Malia asked and placed her plate on the wooden table.

“ Please do,” the Conqueror’s slave replied and looked up to see the woman talking to her.

“You must be Gabrielle,” Malia pointed out when her gaze rested upon the Conqueror’s slave’s collar. ” I’m Malia, the King’s second in command’s private servant,” she introduced herself.

“ How did you know my name?” The Conqueror’s slave didn’t hide her amazement.

“ Gossip travels faster than fire in a thistle field,” said another body slave owned by Marton, the Conqueror’s most esteemed advisor and her governor to Macedonia . “People know who you are.”

“I didn’t realize,” the Conqueror’s slave said.

“ Indeed, all heard of the Conqueror’s fair-haired nubile little slave who’s apparently so good at what she does, she remained in the Conqueror’s service longer than any of her predecessors, ” said Marton’s slave, Navara, pulling out a chair and joining the table.

The Conqueror’s slave lowered her head to hide a blush. She wasn’t aware of the fact that she had survived in the Conqueror’s bed longer than anyone else and felt curiously pleased.

“ So how is servicing the Lord Conqueror ?” Navara smiled knowingly. “Is the Conqueror as legendary as they say?”

The Conqueror’s slave took a sip of water and kept silent.

Navara turned to Malia and said, “ She keeps her Master’s confidence.”

“Well today was the first time I’ve ever seen the Conqueror…The Conqueror is magnificent and so high and potent. I’ve never seen anyone like the Conqueror before. In the Conqueror’s presence I felt weak in my knees and slick between my thighs,” Malia said and grinned and Navara mirrored her colleague’s expression.

“Hopefully in the spirit of good will, my Master would share me with the Conqueror tonight, “ Malia laughed. “ The Gods know he shared me around enough times in the past. For once, let it be someone I crave, and let him be contented in his wife’s bed.”

The Conqueror’s slave’s lips remained sealed and offered no reply to the other slaves. She considered Malia’s words disrespectful to her Lord and she didn’t care for her insinuations either.

“ Is it common practice, to share slaves I mean?” the Conqueror’s slave inquired.

“ You haven’t been around the slavers block much, have you? Doesn’t the Conqueror share you?!” Navara sounded flabbergasted.

The Conqueror’s slave didn’t reply. She felt a sudden brush of gratitude that though her Lord threatened frequently, she never forced her to service others.

“ Amazing loyalty, ” Navara pointed out, “ so rare in our line of work, practically unheard of .”

“ Either that or the Conqueror has disciplined her well , ” Malia presented another possibility and got up. “ I’m going to prepare myself for service, if you’ll excuse me,” she turned and left the kitchen.

“ The banquet will be over in a couple of candle marks, I should prepare myself as well ,” Navara indicated. “ I have forgotten to pack my facial colors and bath oils. May I borrow some from you?”

“Of course,” the Conqueror’s slave replied. “ Please come with me,” she said and led Navara to her private chamber where she kept hers.

When they reached the small chamber, the Conqueror’s slave opened her chest to retrieve the items requested. Suddenly she heard the chamber door being closed and locked behind her. Swiftly, she turned around and saw a man wearing Britannia’s colors standing in the chamber with her and Navara and putting the key to her chamber inside his pocket.

He passed by Navara and reached straight for the Conqueror’s slave. With one hand he grabbed her by her sleeve and with the other he unbuttoned his trousers. The slave tried to free herself from his grasp and reach for the window. She knew a fall off the window would in all likelihood kill her but all she could think was preventing what was about to happen at any cost.

The man pushed her down onto her pallet. From behind her the Conqueror’s slave heard Navara telling her, “ Don’t resist. Let him finish his business so that no mark is left on you. Wash yourself afterwards so that your Master never finds out, otherwise you’ll be resold or worse. This is just the risk of our trade.”

But the Conqueror’s slave jerked and fought relentlessly like a trapped wild animal to fend off the man’s attack. He was too strong, however, and he soon overpowered her. She could smell spirits on his breath when he leaned down to mount her. Only then did he see for the first time the Crest of the Conqueror on the collar around the slave’s neck.

He immediately got off her and moved on to Navara. The slave saw Navara’s head being slammed against the wall when the offender threw her onto the pallet.

The Conqueror’s slave screamed for help and pummeled the door with her fists. No one came to her aid, for everyone was busy with the banquet taking place downstairs in the Great Hall. She tried to push the man off Navara, but he knocked her off him with a blow of his elbow. The slave landed on the floor and hit her chin on the corner of the table. She ignored the gash of blood trickling down her chin and resumed frantically banging on the door.

When the man finished, he got off Navara’s body, unlocked the door and fled. The Conqueror’s slave rushed to Navara. The woman lay there, naked, violated and unconscious with a severe bruise on the back of her head. With the door finally open, the slave ran down the corridor and raised an alarm. Two guards followed the slave to her chamber.

“She was raped,” she told them and immediately covered the unconscious naked woman with a blanket for modesty when they entered her chamber. “ Her assailant fled not a few moments ago. She needs a healer.”

One of the guards went to fetch the healer and the other stayed in the slave’s chamber.

“ Do you know who did this, lady?” he asked.

“ A man with brown hair, wearing Britannia’s colors. He is about twenty-five winters old, perhaps a bit older. I will recognize him if I see him again,” she answered.

A short while later the healer came in accompanied by the Conqueror. When the Conqueror entered the small chamber, the slave bowed her head and knelt.

“What was so important that my banquet had to be disturbed?” The Conqueror asked the guard.

“ It appears this woman was raped, my Liege . ”

“ Who is she and what is she doing in your chamber? ” The Conqueror asked her slave.

“ She is Sir Marton’s personal slave. She asked to borrow some of my bath oils because she had forgotten to bring hers, my Lord,” the slave replied.

“ Have you witnessed the entire event?” The Conqueror asked.

“ I have, my Lord ,” the slave replied.

“ Then I trust you will be questioned. Now go wait for me in my chambers, ” the Conqueror ordered and her slave obeyed.

The slave waited kneeling in the Conqueror’s chambers. She instinctively knew to remain clothed even though her frock was stained with blood and wasn’t appropriate for service.

The Conqueror entered her chambers. She wore her formal regal attire and her crown was still adorning her head.

“Were you raped?” the Conqueror asked.

“I was not, my Lord,” the slave replied.

“By the blood on your chin and on your dress I assume you haven’t bathed since the event, am I correct?”

“Indeed, my Lord is correct,” the slave answered with a tremor in her voice although she had spoken the truth.

“Lie down on the bed and lift up your dress,” the Conqueror ordered and the slave did as instructed. “Spread your legs wider.”

As the Conqueror hovered over her closely inspecting her nether region for any sign of violation, the slave understood that her Lord was checking to see if she had told the truth.

The Conqueror straightened herself back up to her full stature.

“Very well, ” she was finally satisfied.

The slave began to undo the laces of her dress when she heard her Lord’s sharp tone of voice, “Your services won’t be needed. Have the healer take care of your wound and retire to your chamber, which you will keep locked. A guard will escort you at all times until such time that the perpetrator is apprehended. Tomorrow morning you will report to the investigating officers.”

For a moment there the slave felt some sense of gratitude that the Conqueror might be concerned with her wellbeing, but the next sentence out of the Conqueror’s mouth shuttered that farfetched assumption.

“ I will not have what’s mine tampered with. You are dismissed.”

Puzzled by the fact that her Lord hadn’t expressed any will to learn what had happened, the slave was escorted by a guard as she made her way to the infirmary both to receive treatment and to inquire after Marton’s body slave’s state of health and to assist the healer as best she could.

Soon after sunrise, the slave was thoroughly interrogated by the Realm’s investigating officers for several long candle marks. She was taken to stand before an array of men that fitted her description from the night before. She identified the attacker as soon as her eyes landed on him.

He was a captain and a military advisor to the King’s second in command and he was incarcerated and placed in the palace dungeon. By noon that day, Marton’s body slave, Navara, passed away after a drastic deterioration in her state.

With accordance to the laws of the Realm, he was to face the Conqueror’s justice and the prescribed punishment for murder in the Realm was death.
Part 6
The d ismal Imperial Court Hall was bustling with people from all walks of life. All came to watch the best entertainment in the Realm. The Realm’s noblemen, its citizens, the envoy from Britannia, rich and poor alike, clustered in the one place in which they were considered equal.

When the Conqueror entered the capacious palatial Court Hall and strode towards her bench, she was l ionized by her subjects and the members of the visiting envoy, all deferentially bowed before her . The commotion in the courtroom ceased and all spectators respectfully stood and waited for their Sovereign and Supreme Justice to sit first. Donned in her long black robe, she seated herself and with her sat the curious audience.

In front of the Conqueror’s bench and to the right was the defendant with council, a gaunt, ashen man, sans any grain of grace. To the Conqueror’s left was the prosecution.

“In the matter of the Realm versus Prasutagus Captain in Britannia’s army – This court is now in session! ” the Conqueror declared.

The Conqueror rapped her gavel and demanded silence. All humming murmurs discontinued.

” For the prosecution? ”

The thick-bearded, insipidly looking prosecutor stood up and replied: ” Linus, Your Honor. ”

The Conqueror addressed the accused’ counselor, ” And for the defense? ”

The counselor stood square shouldered and clasped his hands behind his back. ” Hector, your Honor. ”

” Let us proceed then , ” concluded the Conqueror and turned to the prosecutor. ” Call your first witness. ”

The prosecutor beckoned the healer that had treated and examined the deceased to take the stand. The healer stood, collected his disarrayed parchments and toddled to his place at the witness stand. His testimony comprised a dreary litany of dry technical information, which divulged the assertion that the deceased had sustained a severe blunt force trauma to her head, which had cause her death and that he had found the presence of freshly discharged seed of a man inside her womanhood, along with fresh bruises to her thighs, suggesting she had been recently taken forcefully.

Once the healer’s direct examination was concluded, the prosecutor turned to the opposite party. ” Your witness, counselor ,” he called.

” Your Honor, I have no questions for this witness at this time. I reserve my right to cross examine him .”

” So ordered. The witness will be subject to recall. Prosecutor, call your next witness .”

The next one to take the stand was the Conqueror’s slave, whose affidavit had been given to the defense by the prosecution during pre-trial disclosure. Like the healer before her, she was sworn in by the court clerk.

” State your name for the record ,” requested the prosecutor.

“Gabrielle of Potidaea, sir.”

” Please tell the court what happened two evenings ago in your chamber. ”

The slave told the court that Navara had come to her chamber to borrow scented bath oils and that soon after they had entered the chamber, she had heard the door being closed and locked behind them. She testified that she had seen a man, the accused, putting the key to her chamber door in his pocket and that afterwards he had reached for her first but suddenly had changed his mind, released her and had proceeded to rape Navara. She testified that she had smelled an inebriant on his breath and that when he had thrown Navara onto the pallet, her head had hit the wall. She testified that she had cried for help through the locked door and tried to push him off her, but had been knocked off by him.

Throughout her testimony the slave’s voice was steady and even. When she was finished, the prosecutor turned to opposing counselor stating simply ” Your witness . ”

The counselor stood up and approached the witness stand.

” What is your station? ” he asked.

” I’m a slave, sir, ” she said with the smallest of voices, which was swallowed easily by the vast space of the Court Hall.

” You’ll do well to speak up, girl, ” the Conqueror commanded.

“My apologies, my Lord. I’m a slave,” she repeated louder than before.

” Who is your owner? ” asked the counselor.

” The Lord Conqueror ,” she answered.

” And what type of services do you provide? ” he inquired.

The slave hesitated for a short moment then answered, ” I am to do my Lord’s biddings.”

” What is the nature of said ‘biddings’? ” he insisted.

” I am the Conqueror’s body slave ,” she was finally compelled to admit. It was one thing to have the collar around her neck announce her identity. It was a different thing altogether to declare it verbally in open court for all to hear.

“Now, you’ve testified that the accused was drunk, correct?”

“I have testified that I had smelled spirits upon his breath,” she clarified.

” I see. You also testified that he violated the victim but he didn’t violate you, correct? ”

” Correct, sir.”

“Well, that simply doesn’t make any sense, you are younger and by far more beautiful than the victim, why would he spare you and force himself upon her?” he asked, trying his best to undermine and discredit the slave’s testimony.

“I object, your Honor, counselor’s question calls for speculation,” darted the prosecutor from his seat

” I will allow it. I want to hear the answer, ” the Conqueror ruled, and then instructed her slave, ” Answer the question .”

“When he saw the insignia on my collar, he realized who my Master was and left me be,” she answered.

“So it is your testimony then, that an intoxicated man had the presence of mind to spare you and rape someone else instead?” His tone of voice sounded almost mocking.

There was an instantaneous roar of disbelief from the gallery. The Conqueror slammed her gavel, exclaiming : ” Quiet! I will have Quiet! ” She peered down at the throng of babbling, churning spectators. ” Quiet, I said, or I’ll clear the court. ”

Then came the slave’s answer that stunned everyone, ” Is there any amount of spirits that you, sir, can imbibe that would make you forget or disregard the ever so fundamental fact that I am the Conqueror’s possession !?”

Her answer extorted a few chuckles out of the audience. It was obvious that the counselor didn’t expect that particular answer. He returned back to his seat for a few moments, as if to regroup and gather his thoughts. Moreover, his pride was wounded for a mere slave out-smarted him and in public. He reckoned retaliation was in order.

“Please tell us, if you know, what usually happens to body slaves if they are used without their owners’ permission?”

“ It is my understanding that they might be resold or worse, ” the slave repeated what she had heard from Navara.

“ How do you know?”

“ Navara, the victim, told me so when the accused was about to take me.”

“ ‘Or worse’…what do you think ‘worse’ means? ”

“ Severe punishment, maybe death…I can’t be sure, sir.”

“Not a great incentive to tell us the truth regarding what really happened, then,” asserted the counselor.

“I object, your Honor,” jumped the prosecutor out of his sit.

“Sustained. The weight of a testimony is a matter for the court to consider, and in the future counselor will refrain from sharing his personal opinion regarding the witness with this court,” ruled the Conqueror. “ Proceed! ”

” Isn’t it true that you resent the Conqueror for the services she demands of you? And what better way to cause the Conqueror damage or embarrassment than sabotage the Realm’s negotiations with Britannia by accusing one of its delegates with rape.”

The Conqueror could barely believe her ears. In spite of the fact that it had been the uncontrolled idiocy of one man that had birthed the question, her wrath could smite the entire Hall of Justice. Stock still, she fisted both her hands till her knuckles whitened, but other than that she maintained her stoic placidity.

” I would never do that, and I would never lie, ” the slave argued.

” Really?! Do you expect us to believe that you don’t suffer hideous acts in your current position? ”

Not wishing to betray her Master’s privacy or blemish her reputation, and not wanting to surrender their ill-conceived intimacy, such as it was, the slave searched with beseeching eyes after her Lord for help, to pray her Lord to put a stop to it, but to no avail.

“My Lord?” the slave whispered an ardent plea.

The Conqueror never gave her the benefit of a single glance. As always, she was entirely alone.

“ You will answer truthfully,” the Conqueror ordered. Her eyes were fixated on some scrolls that were sprawled before her; however, she pricked her ears and waited almost anxiously for her slave’s answer.

A heavy silence descended upon the courtroom as if the audience held their collective breath.

Staring down at her hands, which had been peacefully clasped together in her lap, the slave reluctantly said, ” I am rewarded with pleasure in my service to my Lord , ” just barely swallowing the suffocating lump that was clogging her throat.

“ Remember, I can bring witnesses, the guards who escort you for service who can testify as to the branding mark they have seen on your body and the cries and the tears… ” he warned and pointed his finger to the court’s entrance.

The slave raised her head, looked directly into the counselor’s eyes and with utter conviction simply reiterated, “ I am rewarded with pleasure in my service to my Lord .”

There was such stillness in the courtroom it was as if the air itself was frozen.

After a few long moments had passed, the Conqueror raised her eyes from the scrolls and asked the counselor with a strained voice, “ Have you any more questions?”

“No, your Honor.”

“Redirect?” the Conqueror asked the prosecutor.

“ I have one last question to this witness, your Honor,” he got up.

“ Proceed.”

“ Thank you, your Honor ,” he bowed then approached the witness stand and addressed the young woman sitting there.

“ Counselor suggested that the chain of events as you’ve described was improbable, that you might be lying for example, when you’ve testified that you weren’t violated, and of course if you lie about one thing you might be lying about other things as well. Could you please tell this honorable court what you told me when you were interrogated the morning after the event in question, what thought had crossed your mind when the accused had grabbed you by your sleeve?”

The slave cleared her throat and said, ” I was thinking … ” she paused. “ I would rather throw myself out the window than allow another to interfere with my Lord’s ownership over me. I’d rather forfeit my life than cause my Lord any disrespect or discomfort .”

The crowd in the courtroom seemed to hang on her every word as if she was introducing them into a new world, a hidden exotic culture they knew nothing about, granting them a rare peek into the clandestine domain of Master and slave.

“Thank you, Lady Gabrielle,” the prosecutor said and smiled at her.

“ You may step down, ” the Conqueror officiously said.
Part 7
By noon the trial was over. The Conqueror found the accused guilty and condemned him to death. In the verdict she rendered, the Conqueror ruled that in the Realm, life was life, even those of a slave and no one has the right to break or circumvent her law. The execution was scheduled to take place in three days time, so the condemned would have time to put his affairs in order before his death.

Just before dusk, the Conqueror’s mother, Cyrene of Amphipolis, arrived at the palace. The elderly tavern-keeper came to partake in the celebrations of the Conqueror’s latest conquest, Britannia.

An unusual command was delivered to the slave by the Conqueror’s household steward. She was to serve supper to the Conqueror and her mother in the dining hall that evening.

When a crescent moon made its appearance in the dark sky, the slave pushed a cart loaded with grilled meat and other delicacies and the Conqueror’s favorite wine into the grand dining hall. She carefully laid the trays onto the table before her Lord and her Lord’s mother sitting at the table and poured the wine into her Lord’s chalice. Then gracefully she knelt at her Lord’s feet and waited for her Lord’s instructions.

“That would be all,” the Conqueror said.

As she was about to rise to her feet, the Conqueror closed her hand around the slave’s wrist and lowered her eyes to the slave at her feet.

“In court today…” the Conqueror began.

She wanted to tell the young woman how pleased she was with the loyalty and discretion she had shown, how proud she was of her for fending off the counselor’s attacks, how she liked the cleverness she demonstrated, and how endearing she found her slave’s admission regarding the pleasure she had been receiving in her service, but all that came out of her mouth was:

“It wasn’t your fault.”

” Thank you, my Lord, ” said the slave and a faint shadow of a smile appeared briefly on her lips. She felt the Conqueror’s hand releasing her wrist and then move to cup her cheek. Her head was being slightly tilted up and the Conqueror’s thumb gently caressed the bruise the slave had on her chin.

When the slave saw the Conqueror closely examining the healing bruise, the slave could barely breathe. It was the first gentle act the Conqueror had ever paid her in almost four years of service.

“It won’t leave a scar, my Lord,” the slave said and inwardly prayed she could hold back her tears for just a while longer, till far from her Lord’s presence.

“Good,” the Conqueror muttered. “My chambers.”

” Yes, my Lord ,” the slave stood, exited the dining hall and went to wait in her Lord’s suite.

“I’ll be damned,” exclaimed Cyrene .

“What?!” the Conqueror frowned.

” Well, I see how attentive she is to your needs ,” Cyrene said as she observed how the slave placed every plate within the Conqueror’s reach and not necessarily within hers. “And I heard about the things she had said in court today…and now…”

The Conqueror emptied her chalice. ” She’s a slave. That’s what she does, what she was trained to do.”

“She wasn’t trained to steal glances at you,” replied Cyrene .

The Conqueror didn’t respond.

“Your brother Toris sends his regards. He wanted to come here and honor you, alas his wife’s confinement was a hard one.” Cyrene sounded keen to change the subject.

After supper, the Conqueror made her way to her chambers, deeply contemplating the events of the day, particularly her slave’s testimony and her mother’s words. The demons that had been spurring her viciousness towards her slave should have been rambling and clawing at the pit of her stomach; however, she was too mentally fatigued to maintain her resolve. She considered sending the slave, who had been waiting for her, away, forgoing service altogether, but her need was too great and too demanding to ignore that night.

She entered her chambers and saw her slave kneeling at the foot of the bed. The Conqueror passed right by her and walked over to the balcony, where a marble statue of a lion stood and breathed in the cool night breeze.

When the Conqueror returned back inside she saw her pliable servant still waiting, still kneeling quietly. The Conqueror began to disrobe. “ On the bed,” she said.

The slave obeyed. She lay on the bed and as always turned her face away from her Lord.

The Conqueror laid her naked muscular body on top of the slave’s. She straddled the slave’s smooth firm thigh and began to slowly grind herself against it, supporting her weight on one elbow and looking down at her slave’s beautiful features.

Something was different. The Conqueror’s touch was different and the slave tried as hard as she could not to panic. She felt the Conqueror pick up her pace, thrusting her sex harder against her flesh and leaving wet fire in its wake. She felt the Conqueror’s palm against her cheek, prompting her to face her.

The Conqueror wanted to see.

Her large warm palm moved down from the slave’s face, over her slave’s breast, over her flat stomach till she reached her downy womanhood. She slid two long fingers into the hot opening. There was no denying the wetness and the spasms – an irrefutable evidence of arousal.

The slave couldn’t look directly into her Lord’s eyes, so she lowered them just slightly, lodging her gaze at the general direction of her Lord’s high cheekbones. Nevertheless, she could feel her Lord’s eyes boring into her, and her breathing became labored.

The Conqueror kept moving inside of her, deeply and deliberately, stroking her sensitive swollen nub with her thumb.

The Conqueror wanted to discover, and she always attains her desires. The Conqueror left her slave nowhere to hide. The Conqueror had never done this before.

The slave was close and she felt so was her Lord.

The Conqueror saw her slave shutting her green eyes tightly and her head tilting back and sensed the brief quiver of her body. If she had been any less attuned, even by a hair, she would have missed it. The Conqueror’s climax was intense.

The Conqueror pulled out of her slave and rolled off her body.

“ I’m done,” she said as she looked at her fingers coated with her slave’s abundant fluids.

The next day, after long and arduous deliberations in the Great Hall, followed by a formal supper in the dinning hall, the Conqueror retired to her chambers, where her slave had already been waiting for her. With a goblet of wine in her hand and a satin robe loosely hanging over her broad shoulders, the Conqueror seated herself in her favorite armchair and leaned back.

“The negotiations are progressing with accordance to my will,” the Conqueror said with satisfaction.

At first the slave was convinced another was present in her Lord’s bedchamber, for in her mind that could have been the only conceivable explanation for her Lord’s speech. As she was about to reach for a blanket to cover herself, she quickly scanned the dimly lit chamber only to find that it was vacant aside from her Lord.

“About a moon ago, I marched three of my legions to Britannia and spread them thinly around its southern borders. At the same time I launched a fleet of my best ships via the ocean to Britannia’s shores,” the Conqueror went on and lit her favorite pipe. “The best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance and resolve without fighting.”

The Conqueror refilled her goblet then comfortably leaned back into her armchair.

“All warfare is based on deception. When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” She paused for a few moments as if carefully choosing her words, then said all smug, “They weren’t ready for me.”

The Conqueror finished her second goblet of wine, then rose to her feet and went to stand before her kneeling slave. She delved her long powerful fingers into the soft golden hair and almost absentmindedly stroked it, enjoying the feel of it against her roughness.

” If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. It you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

The Conqueror prompted the slave’s head to lean against her thigh.

“A spy I planted in the king’s bed, a concubine who used to service me, sent word that he couldn’t even get a cock to stand. I knew their king was old and weak.”

The slave listened carefully to her Lord’s words. She delighted in her alto voice and was riveted by her wisdom. Nevertheless, she couldn’t find a single viable reason why her Lord would trouble herself with speaking about such matters with her. What relevance were battle strategies to a slave?

” The outcome had been decided before a single drop of blood was shed. They surrendered with virtually no resistance. Their king’s health is so frail he feared he wouldn’t survive the journey from Britannia to the Realm. That is why my dealings are with his second in command.”

Then it was quiet again. With the right cheek pressed against her Lord’s thigh, the slave remained bewildered. Her mind was racing in search for a reason as to why her Lord would tell her such things, but she couldn’t find an explanation, not even a remotely plausible one.

“ Be ready to receive me ,” the Conqueror finally said and the slave climbed up onto the bed.

***

After a fortnight, the envoy returned back to Britannia, which had become yet another province of the Realm. On the eve of its departure, the Conqueror retired early to her chambers and ordered her slave be sent to her.

Sitting in her armchair reading the agreement signed between the two parties once more, her slave waited on her knees to do as her Lord commands.

While on her knees, the slave noticed her Lord’s breathing had become deeper and slower. She mustered the courage to glance at her Lord and saw her sleeping with a scroll covering her chest.

The slave pondered as to what should be her course of action, if any, and eventually, almost timidly, she got up and carefully disentangled the scroll from her Lord’s grip and placed it on her Lord’s desk. She then knelt before her Lord and cautiously took her leather boots off her feet. The slave placed the Conqueror’s arm over her shoulder and helped her to her feet. She led the slumbering Conqueror to bed straining under her weight and covered her body with a blanket for warmth. The slave was overcome by an incontrollable urge to closely observe the sleeping Lord and study her peacefully seeming features. It was like watching a sleeping lion, or any other majestic predator in a serene state. The slave felt a rush of excitement and anxiousness washing over her until her heart couldn’t withstand the trepidation laced with exhilaration any longer and she returned to kneel by her Lord’s bed.

When the sun was high in the sky the next day, the Conqueror woke to find her slave still kneeling at the foot of the bed, her eyelids hanging heavily over her eyes and barely maintaining an upright position.

“What are you doing here?” The Conqueror’s brow furrowed.

” My Lord hasn’t dismissed me, ” the slave said and felt her senses immediately being focused by her Lord’s voice.

The Conqueror reconstructed the events of the previous night until her recollection was fully intact. Her slave took off her boots, helped her to bed, and covered her.

“Go to your chamber and rest. I shall not call upon you tonight. Starting tomorrow night and from then on, you will serve my supper in my chambers and you will take your supper at my table, unless I instruct you otherwise.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Leave me now.”

When the slave exited the Conqueror’s chambers that morning, she met Satrina, the Conqueror’s chambermaid and former body slave in the corridor who was about to enter the Conqueror’s chambers and perform her domestic duties.

“Good morning, Satrina,” the slave greeted heartedly.

“Good morning to you too, Gabrielle,” Satrina returned with kindness, looking genuinely surprised to see the slave coming out of her Master’s chambers that time of day, for she was in the unique position to know that the Conqueror had never kept a bedmate longer than was needed to conclude her purpose. ” Rough night?” she couldn’t help herself and smiled knowingly.

But the slave didn’t reply.
Part 8
The following couple of years, the slave served her Lord’s suppers in her chambers most evenings and took her suppers with her. The meals were served on a low table, which was ornamented by spectacular metal flowers, and the Conqueror was leisurely sprawled on a pile of cushions with her slave opposite her. While they dined, the Conqueror told the slave about her days, about her battles, about some of the noblemen of the Realm, about where she had acquired some of her furniture and her slave drank in her words and offered none of her own, because she wasn’t instructed to.

Service usually followed the joint meals. During those seasons, the Conqueror’s fits of rage and savagery accompanied by reprimanding and brutal fornications had become less frequent, but weren’t entirely abandoned. However, after the dark beast inside of her took its pound of flesh, it took the Conqueror a longer respite to get a grip and regain composure and better frame of mind.

The slave maintained her days’ routine. She was glad when the palace healer suggested she would assist him to attend to the Conqueror’s soldiers who sustained injuries on the military drilling fields on the palace grounds. To the slave, it provided a sense of contentment that her life had purpose beyond her Master’s bed.

One time, when one of the captains received a major slash to his left shoulder courtesy of one of his subordinates, she asked that the strongest spirits possible would be brought to her. She dosed the wound with the intoxicant.

The captain jolted in anguish as soon as he felt the burning sting of his injured flesh and as if by instinct he raised his healthy arm to deliver a backhand to the slave’s face.

” What are you doing?” The healer exclaimed and stopped the captain’s arm half way to its target. “She is the Lord Conqueror’s . What do you think the Lord Conqueror would do to you upon discovering a bruise on her slave’s face?”

The captain slowly retrieved his arm and said to the healer: “I seriously doubt the Lord Conqueror would notice another bruise on her piece of meat, what with all the other bruises the Conqueror had left on her already.” He chuckled with disdain.

The slave dressed his wound after she had neatly stitched it up.

When the captain had returned back to the field, the healer asked the slave for the reason behind her practice.

She explained to him that her first owner, a county healer, had discovered entirely by accident that when washing an open would with potent spirits an inflammation wouldn’t follow. The accident had been a farmer who had suffered an injury to his chest by a scythe, asking for spirits to dull the pain and accidentally spilling the liquid on his wounded chest.

When the slave marked six turns of the seasons in the Conqueror’s service, the Conqueror’s mother Cyrene paid another visit to the palace.

That evening after supper on her way to her assigned chamber, Cyrene passed by the entrance to the Conqueror’s chambers and saw that the door was ajar and soft light and voices came out of it.

Against her better judgment, Cyrene ‘s feet simply rooted themselves at the door. As she was peeking inside, she witnessed a sight unraveling before her, which she couldn’t believe.

The Conqueror was reclining over a heap of cushions with her slave by her side.

“Have you ever tasted wine?” the Conqueror asked her slave.

“I haven’t, my Lord,” the slave replied.

“Here,” the Conqueror offered and filled the slave’s cup, which previously contained water, to the brim. ” Try it. ”

The slave, without any previous experience with wine, failed to estimate its affect in advance and drank the entire content of the cup at once. After a few moments, her face was flushed a reddish glow and her spirit was high with the wine. The sensation of being lightheaded was foreign to her.

As hot waves washed over her body, the slave felt being slowly stripped of her ability to control herself. She reached for the appetizing cherries and moved her tongue slowly around the fruit, making a show of it for her Lord’s benefit.

The Conqueror was riveted by her slave’s unbridled behavior, and lavished the fair-haired woman with lascivious looks that left no room for doubt.

The slave stood up just barely, removed the empty plates from the table then walked over to the cart on which they had been delivered. As she bent over the cart to arrange the dishes, she sensed her Lord’s glare on her body.

In her inebriated state, the slave lacked the capacity to restrain her tongue.

“Do you see something you like, my Lord?” the slave asked, not making any effort to hide her intent.

” I adore the dimples at the apex of your buttocks. ” Her Lord took great pleasure in uttering her words.

The slave lowered herself to the ground and walked on all fours, sensually swaying her backside till she reached her Lord. She turned her rear to face her Lord, lifted up her thin chiffon shift, exposing that which her Lord was fond of the most.

” For my Lord’s pleasure, ” the slave humbly offered, placing palms over each of her buttocks and parting them.

The Conqueror’s mother was still at the door, watching them. She knew she ought not to, but she couldn’t detach her eyes from the scene that was playing before her.

The Conqueror was delighted. She would not reject this precious gift. She crouched over her slave, parted her robe and slowly filled the presented opening.

As the slave felt her Lord’s delicious penetration, she bucked her pelvis backwards against her Lord’s loins to deepen it. The gesture was not lost on the Conqueror and to show her appreciation she licked her slave’s nape, making the slave’s skin tingle with fire.

As the Conqueror set a slow and lazy rhythm in and out of the smaller women beneath her, inflaming their desire, the Conqueror sent her fingers to the slave’s sex. She let out a guttural groan when her fingers met with the warm wetness streaming down from between the slave’s folds and down her thighs, and to further stoke the slave’s arousal, she began to draw circles over the slave’s center, maddeningly hardening it.

Feeling she had trespassed on her daughter and her slave’s privacy too much already, Cyrene made haste to her bedchamber. The sights she had seen and her thoughts kept her awake for the better part of the night.

The following evening, as ordered, the slave served dinner to the Conqueror and her mother and after she had finished arranging the plates on the table in the dinning hall, the Conqueror turned to her and ordered she was to wait for her in her Chambers.

“Yes, my Lord,” the slave replied and exited the dinning room.

” You are breaking the girl, ” Cyrene commented as she was vigorously cutting the meat on her plate.

“I’m sure I don’t know of what you speak,” the Conqueror replied.

“Your chamber door was ajar last night and as I made my way to my bedchamber I saw .”

“ You did what?! ” the Conqueror tightened her grip around her knife. “I swear to you, if it had been anyone other than you I would have…”

” I saw her seducing you last night,” Cyrene stated like it was some undeniable, irrefutable and indisputable truth.

” She was drunk, ” the Conqueror said and dropped her knife on the table in anger.

” The wine just loosened her tongue but it couldn’t account for the content of her words to you. She didn’t merely accommodate your attention, she elicited it .”

The Conqueror remained aloof.

“The lass is smitten with you, daughter,” Cyrene went on to say and looked tenderly upon the Conqueror.

But the Conqueror wouldn’t have it. Vexed , she slammed her iron fist onto the table, nearly cracking it with the force of the blow. “Are you out of your senses?” she scolded, as if trying to make her mother remember to whom was she speaking.

“I’m telling you this, daughter, because no one else would dare say it to you,” Cyrene insisted and placed her smaller, older, wrinkled hand over the Conqueror’s fist.

The Conqueror unclenched her fist and sighed deeply. ” I’ve done things to her, mother… suffice it to say I witnessed hardened warriors crumble and wet themselves with dread and agony like infants when I did to them one tenth of the things I’d done to her. What you are suggesting is ludicrous and impossible.”

Cyrene listened to the Conqueror’s words and considered them and the manner in which they were said. “Have you told her how you feel yet?”

A brief raise of the Conqueror’s eyebrow was the only evidence of her surprise.

“I’m her Lord and Master, not her sweetheart . We are who we are, and things are how they should be.”

Although sounding harsh, Cyrene heard profound bitterness in the Conqueror’s voice, the sort one could hear from a hundred year old who had lived a lifetime of regret, and it pained her.

” You are the Conqueror. The world is what you make it, ” Cyrene argued.

But the Conqueror would have none of it. “There will be no further discussion regarding this matter,” the Conqueror said.

Cyrene knew that the Conqueror was at the end of her tether. “Promise me one thing, daughter, that you wouldn’t punish a miserable young slave for an old woman’s transgression.”

The Conqueror said nothing.

” I beseech you, your Majesty, may I have your word,” she pleaded.

“You have my word,” the Conqueror said reluctantly .

***

After bringing Britannia to its knees, the Conqueror developed an appetite to expand her Empire further east and set her eyes to Persia .

The Conqueror spent her days and nights with her various advisors and highest ranking officers planning and plotting – preparing to wage war, examining maps, considering reports regarding the state of her finances, armory, and troops, investigating, and crosschecking pieces of information she received from her wide spread net of spies, whom she paid handsomely.

The slave spent those nights alone in her chamber wondering why she hadn’t been summoned for service during the passing moon. Trying desperately not to succumb to paralyzing fear, she attributed it to the manner in which she had performed the night she got high with wine. After that night she had been under the impression her Lord had been pleased, but when Karpa had informed her she needn’t bring supper to her Lord’s chambers until further notice, she had begun to think she had done something to displease her Master.

Two nights before the Conqueror would move her forces out, the slave was summoned to the Conqueror’s chambers.

As the slave set the table for dining, the Conqueror said, “Tomorrow at first light I move to conquer Persia .”

That statement caused the slave to halt her menial task immediately and remain motionless where she stood.

“May I, my Lord?”

“Go ahead,” the Conqueror raised her eyebrow. The slave has never initiated a conversation before.

“How long would my Lord be gone for?”

“Persia cannot be conquered in fewer than five moons at the very least,” the Conqueror replied, still curious as to what was behind her slave’s words. As soon as she finished her sentence, she noticed something quite rare, an unfamiliar expression on her slave’s face rather than her typical vacant one. The Conqueror couldn’t make sense of it and in a blink of an eye it disappeared.

“It is a long time, my Lord,” the slave pointed out. When she had tended to the soldiers, she had listened in on their conversations and war stories they had told, and she had learnt about the whores following army camps and plying their trade.

“Indeed it is,” the Conqueror confirmed. “You will pack what you need and be ready at dawn.”

“Thank you, my Lord. I will.”

” Now leave. I need to conserve my strength ,” the Conqueror ordered.

When alone in her chamber again, the slave was almost giddy.
Part 9
Just before dawn, the slave waited with her chest at the palace gates, which she hadn’t exited for over six winters, ever since she had been brought to the palace the day the Conqueror had purchased her.

The sky was covered with heavy clouds and strong chilling winds blew wildly over the trees. It was about the rain.

The Conqueror, wearing an Imperial battle helmet, gantlets over her forearms, and her golden armor, was fast approaching the gates riding atop her mare, along with one of her generals. When she reached the massive iron gates, the Conqueror dismounted her mare and the slave curtsied before her.

The Conqueror ordered the general to bring to her two of his best swordsmen. After he left, the Conqueror handed her slave a large cape.

“ Do you see the wagon over there?” the Conqueror asked and pointed over to a roofed ordinary-looking wagon, which was parked on the other side of the gates.

“ I do, my Lord,” the slave answered.

“You will remain inside this wagon at all times unless you need to relieve yourself, or I order you otherwise. Should you need to get off the wagon, you will put this cape over you. I will not have my men enticed by your bodily assets.” The Conqueror last sentence came out harsher than she had originally intended.
“Yes, my Lord.”

“You don’t know how men are when their blood is burning with the heat of battle,” the Conqueror felt compelled to explain, “and with death all around them, they might not think rationally… the collar around your neck might not be a deterrent this time. ”

“ I understand, my Lord. ”

The general returned to the Conqueror with two soldiers, who immediately bowed before their Sovereign.

” What are your names, soldiers?” the Conqueror asked.

” Milos, your Majesty,” the dark-haired robust man answered.

” Neros, your Majesty,” answered the other.

“You are hereby assigned to guard her for the duration of this campaign. The wagon, in which she’ll travel, will be behind our forces at all times,” the Conqueror commanded and looked at her slave.

“I am to guard a slave?! ” Milos asked with a streak of contempt as if he had been ordered to clean up after a dog.

The Conqueror’s reaction was decisive, swift and immediate. She raised her arm and landed her hand between the soldier’s shoulder and neck. He fell to his knees with the immense force of her strike.

“How dare you question my orders?” Her voice roared, as she unsheathed her sword and placed its blade where her hand had strike.

At that point his general intervened. “Majesty, forgive him. He is young and stupid, but I assure your Majesty he is the best with a sword. ”

” My deepest apologies, my Liege ,” Milos implored.

The Conqueror grabbed him by his neck and forced him to stand back up. “Heed me, if she so much as breaks a nail, if she should accidentally trip and fall, I will feed you your heart and make you beg me for a quick death, am I being clear?”

“By your will, my Liege .”

” The two of you will guard her with your lives. You will follow her like her own shadow. You will each take his turn, one will take the night shift, and the other will take the day shift. When one is guarding her, the other will be with me. You will facilitate communication between us if need be. You will keep her presence here unknown and should your comrades ask about your whereabouts, you will make up a believable lie.”

“By your will, my Liege ,” they exclaimed in unison.

“Let us move out then,” and with that, the Conqueror mounted her mare and galloped towards the great valley at the foot of her palace.

The slave climbed up the wagon and then she felt it moving. Half a candle mark later, it came to a halt. She peeked out through a crack between the wooden boards sealing the wagon and saw tens of thousands of warriors in perfect order. It was like watching an ocean of people. The slave had never seen so many people gathered in one place before. And there were horsemen and archers and chariots and catapults as far as the eye could see.

Then the slave saw a rider riding before the legions. Even from a great distance, the slave recognized her Lord. She couldn’t hear what her Lord was saying to her subordinates, but she heard them cry her honorific in one roaring voice and the clamoring of their weapons against their shields and the war drums and the horns and the stomping of military boots on the ground, making the earth beneath the wagon tremble.

It filled the slave’s heart with awe and dread. The Conqueror’s soldiers and officers worshiped her as if they were members of a sect. It seemed as though they would follow her to the underworld and drown themselves in the river Styx if she so commanded.

After the rally of the troops, the wagon started moving again. The slave looked around the wagon and saw furs to keep her warm, preserved meat, fresh water, fruit and vegetables, loafs of bread, cheese, butter and confections. The back of the wagon was covered with a dark thick veil. The slave moved it slightly and saw Milos riding behind the wagon.

Nearing dusk, the wagon stopped, and the slave put on the cape the Conqueror had given her and climbed down the wagon in order to relieve herself. The soldier that had been assigned to guard her followed her to the nearby bushes and kept a respectful distance, but never allowed her out of his sight.

When she returned, she entered the wagon, sat down and moved the veil aside to allow fresh air inside the wagon. She saw Milos eating his supper sitting on the ground near the wagon.

She noticed he ate the same food she was and he was well dressed and well equipped.

“I’m sorry that you’re stuck here instead of your fellow men,” the slave said.

” I’m sorry for my reprehensible behavior earlier. I didn’t realize who you were because I’ve never seen you before. You are the Conqueror’s… companion. I heard you are a gifted healer and in fact you’ve treated some of my friends who injured themselves during training,” he said.

As they ate their supper, the slave pointed out the fact that the Conqueror’s troops were well fed and dressed.

“I once heard the Conqueror tell my general that soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity and dignity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline and that this was a certain road to victory,” he told her. ” The Lord Conqueror also told him, that to be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished – that is the art of husbanding one’s strength.”

“Our Lord is very wise,” the slave said.

” You should see the Lord Conqueror in battle… The Lord Conqueror commands every aspect, everything on the battlefield, even the sun and the earth and the winds… and the Conqueror’s authority rules everywhere, and the way the Conqueror wields a sword is mesmerizing and uncanny.” It was as plain as daylight he admired his Sovereign, but then he became quiet, for he suddenly remembered he was talking to a body slave, and there was no chance she would ever get to witness her Master’s military talents on a battlefield.

“You sound very proud to be under my Lord’s command,” she laid down her plate and brushed away a few crumbs, which clung to her dress.

“The Conqueror is honorable and every warrior under her command, from the highest ranking officers to the last of the troops must obey the ‘purity of weapon’ code,” he said.

“The ‘purity of weapon’ code?”

“No looting, no harming unarmed civilians and no taking unwilling women or boys. The Conqueror will not brook any infraction of the code,” he explained and reached for his flask only to find it empty.

The slave handed him her flask, “Here, please take mine. I only have water.”

He chuckled, “No wine, no ale nor spirits of any kind are allowed on the battlefield. Orders of the Conqueror.”

The slave saw Milos suddenly jumping to his feet and a familiar voice ordering him, ” At ease,” and only then did she see the Conqueror accompanied by the other guard Neros.

” Milos, report to your field commander. Neros, take a walk but don’t venture too far,” the Conqueror ordered them.

As the slave was kneeling inside the wagon, the Conqueror climbed up and entered it.

The slave was surprised at first to see that her Lord had come to her rather than the other way around; however, the Conqueror’s orders to the guards came to her then. She surmised that the Conqueror’s tent would be amongst her soldiers and the Conqueror wouldn’t want her slave brought to her there, letting her soldiers discover her slave amongst them.

The slave took her clothes off and, as the Conqueror was taking her pleasure, it began to rain outside.

***

As they neared the outer boarders of Persia , after they had been on route for a moon, the Conqueror’s army grew more restless and primed for battle. During those passing days, the slave remained in the wagon, and was guarded by the Conqueror’s soldiers. The Conqueror had come to her wagon most nights, but when they had reached Persia the nightly visits ceased.

As the guards alternated between shifts they were able to update the slave, who was thirsty for news, about the Conqueror’s triumphs and advancement at the front. They also replenished her food supply.

Days had gone by and it became colder. The Conqueror, she had learned, was deep inside Persian territory and was engaged in battles in several fronts. The slave wished it would be over. The suspense was almost too much for her to bear.

After three more moons had elapsed, Neros came to the wagon for his shift with news.

“Tomorrow night,” he said, “the Conqueror would wage the final and defining battle. When the Conqueror wins this battle, the road to Xarxes’ King of Persia ‘s palace will be clear and her victory complete.”

The slave felt ambiguous about this news, for it filled her with both happiness that the campaign was nearing its end, but with anxiety and tension because it wasn’t over yet. She wondered how warriors handled the suspense.

After two more days, just before sunset, the slave heard a raucous voice simply commanding, ” Leave! ”

The slave’s body tensed instantaneously and before she managed to assume a kneeling position the veil over the wagon was crudely pushed aside.

“Get out!”

The slave obeyed right away and jumped out of the wagon without delay. Next she felt a vise hold around her arm and she was hoisted upwards and placed above a horse.

As the mare galloped in full speed, the slave didn’t turn her head back to look at her Lord. She could sense the heat emanating from her Lord’s body and she could smell the stench of death on her.

The Conqueror led her mare to a nearby creek. She dismounted the animal and pulled the slave down from it.

The slave knelt at her Lord’s feet.

“Raise your head and look at me,” the Conqueror ordered.

The slave raised her head and looked at her Lord.

The Conqueror’s face was red with the blood of her enemy she had spilled and so was her armor. Her long smooth raven-black hair was disheveled and a few strands were stuck to her face by blood and sweat.

“Do you know who stands before you, girl?” the Conqueror asked.

The slave understood entirely what the meaning of her Lord’s words was, “I do, my Lord,” she said.

“ Get in the water and clean yourself for me. ”

When the slave stepped into the freezing water, the Conqueror build up a fire and then entered the water as well and washed the blood off her body. Still in the water, the slave felt a strong arm wrapped around her, pinning her against hot flesh and the Conqueror’s scorching breath caressing her neck.

“You’re clean enough,” the slave heard the hoarse voice of her Lord.

The slave felt a hand tangle in her hair and yank her head back hard. “Did you miss me?” a whisper hissed in the slave’s ear.

The slave froze. Both fright and exhilaration were feeding the adrenalin that was pulsing through her. She could still smell the metallic tang of the blood covering her Lord. She could feel the hot breath caressing her neck.

She bit back a whimper as long cruel fingers pinched her nipple painfully and sharp teeth sunk into the muscle at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. A warm tongue licked droplets of water off her flesh. Hard hips rammed against her bare buttocks while the muscled arm held her into place, the other still tangled in her hair pulling free to reach down and administer an agonizing pinch to her hard clitoris.

“Did you miss me?” Her Master asked again , lifting the slave’s petite frame easily and throwing her onto a large flat rock at the water’s edge. Landing on her back, the slave reflexively considered scuttling away, but her Lord’s hand grabbed her ankle and jerked. The rough surface claimed a layer of the soft skin of her backside before the weight of her Lord crushed her against the hard surface. She held her breath as glowing azure eyes bore into hers.

“ I’ve missed you, my Lord,” the slave answered as she felt her Lord’s tongue lapping between her breasts and down her flat soft belly.

The slave felt her neck being grasped by a vise-like hold, “Then show me how much. Knees to the ground,” she heard her Lord rasps as her head was crudely pushed into the Conqueror’s loins.

The slave positioned herself between her Lord’s legs. She took her Lord’s phallus in her small hands, her sweet pink tongue glided out of her mouth and she began to twirl it with painful slowness around its tip.

The sight of her between her legs, her tongue so expertly, so enticingly licking her need, pleased her Lord and her breath was labored and her heated blood soared in her veins.

“Take it into your mouth,” the Conqueror bellowed.

The slave opened her mouth as widely as she could and took the shaft into her mouth, her full lips wrapped around it. She began sucking it; her head was moving up and down her Lord’s length, her breasts were swaying with her primal rhythm.

From above her, her Lord weaved her fingers into her gold silky hair, encouraging her movements onward. She felt her Lord’s crotch pushing forwards against her mouth and grinding herself into her. The slave admirably endured it.

The Conqueror then pushed her slave away from her and walked over to where her mare was grazing. The Conqueror took out a rope and her whip and returned to her slave.

The Conqueror tied each of her slave’s arms and legs to a tree in a spread-eagle position.

“Did you touch that trimmed treasure between your legs when I was out risking my life on the battlefield?” the Conqueror asked, while plunging three fingers then four then her entire fist into her slave’s glove of her womanhood. Vicious teeth nipped at the slave’s breasts as the ramming fist rocked her body fiercely.

“I haven’t, my Lord,” the slave answered and shook her head frantically.

The Conqueror listened to the slave’s words and the wet sounds her fist was making coming in and out of the drenched cavern.

The slave felt the massive fist drawing out of her and saw her Lord moving around to stand behind her. Next, she heard a whiplash cutting the air, followed by a lash on her back.

“ Did the two guardsmen dip into what’s mine, while I was away bringing Persia down?” the Conqueror voice sounded like war cries.

“No, never, my Lord.” The slave reminded herself these were just the ranting of her Lord’s battle-lust, nothing more. All she needed to do was brace herself and weather the storm.

“ Why not?” Her Master asked and delivered another lash to the slave’s buttocks, watching the two white globes clamp.

“Because…” the slave cried. Her mind was racing. The Conqueror moved to stand before her and her hard savage gaze bore into her.

The whip unfurled and whistled through the air again. The stinging tip licked at the slave’s breasts this time, panting them with red welts. She gritted her teeth together to hold back the scream that tore at her throat when the leather flicked lower to cut at the ravaged tissue between her spread legs. Eyes blazing, she strained against her bindings. But they held fast.

“ Because?!” the Conqueror shouted impatiently.

“Because no one can rule and sate me the way my Lord rules and sates me,” the slave replied, tormented. Tears began to well up as the beautiful green eyes slammed shut.

The Conqueror picked up her sword from the ground and cut the ropes tying the slave’s ankles to the trees, setting them free. She then scooped the slave up as if she was weightless and positioned herself between her slave’s legs.

They exchanged no more words between them as the Conqueror parted her slave’s labia and entered her with her member. The Conqueror quickly secured both hands on her slave’s buttocks, possessively kneading the flesh and marking the tender skin.

While her hands still secured to the trees, the slave lifted up her legs to each side of her Lord’s waist. She crossed her legs behind her Lord’s back, placed the sole of her feet against her Lord’s clenching and unclenching muscle-packed buttocks to increase and deepen her Lord’s penetration into her. She felt her moist swollen clitoris rub faster and faster against her Lord’s muscled abdomen.

It was raw insatiable desire that drove their feverish actions, their need unbearable and their suffocating arousal soaring higher. Three moons were too long a time for them to be apart and deprived of this. Their release came crashing down on them. The Conqueror howled her tremendous pleasure and the slave suffered hers in silence as always.

It was midnight and the Conqueror decided they were to remain near the creek and return to camp at first light. She handed the slave her bedrolls and arranged her furs on the other side of the fire.

As the Conqueror added more wood to the flames, she noticed her slave was shivering from the night’s chill. She removed her harness and laid herself down on her side, one elbow on the ground and her other hand lifting up the furs covering her body in an invitation, and said to her slave, “Come here.”

The slave got up and hesitantly walked over to where her Lord lay and laid herself next to her.

The Conqueror pulled the covers over both their bodies.

With her bare back against the Conqueror’s warm stomach, the slave felt the Conqueror’s large hand playing with her breast and making her nipple erect.

“I forced the Persian king’s remaining forces to Namela, where the hills would be at their back. Their generals never believed two of my legions had been stealthily stationed there. When my main forces reached Namela, I launched a fierce attack and ordered my legions behind the hills to charge downhill,” the Conqueror told her slave, while her hand kept sluggishly moving from her slave’s breast to her belly and lower. “ It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill. The Persian generals ordered their warriors uphill to block my warriors coming downhill. They were slaughtered.” The Conqueror’s wandering hand moved to caress the slave between her legs while she was narrating her exploits.

It seemed to the slave that her Lord was doing it absentmindedly, but it became difficult for her to maintain her concentration on what her Lord was telling her, with the new fire rapidly building inside of her.

“ When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. Such is the art of warfare. Victory was mine,” the Conqueror concluded her tale then informed her slave as she mounted her, “I need to go again.”

The slave spread her legs and gave access. She felt her right leg being lifted and placed over her Lord’s proud shoulder, and her Lord’s large, hard sex grinding against hers. She fixated her gaze on the flames as her Lord was making her come again.
Part 10
The next day the Conqueror returned to camp, leaving her slave back at the wagon, which had been her temporary abode since the beginning of the campaign. Anxious to reach Corinth , the Conqueror detached the Imperial Guard from the rest of her legions and put them on the fasted rout back to Greece , the wagon with her slave at the back.

On their way back, the Conqueror called on her slave each and every night, without exception. Just after they had passed through the moors of Khalid, the nightly visits to the slave’s wagon ceased. On the third night on which the Conqueror failed to appear, the slave asked Neros, the nightshift guard, if something had happened.

“The Conqueror ordered me to inform you that she has taken ill, should you ask,” he answered.

“How dire is it?” asked the slave.

“It might be severe. A quarter of the Imperial Guard is ravaged by illness and some of them have died already,” he said with a grave tone of voice and even graver expression.

“What does the healer say?” She was fighting to remain calm.

“I don’t think he knows what’s causing it. He believes it might be poison. We stocked on provisions in Persia for the journey home. You needn’t worry. Since you were well stocked, none of Persia ‘s products were given to you.”

“Please take me to see the Conqueror,” the slave asked.

“There is no need. The Conqueror receives daily report regarding your health, as ordered. Besides, I can’t. The Conqueror ordered no one except the healer is to enter her tent, and you are not allowed into camp,” he said.

“Please, I’m begging you,” she pleaded.

” I can’t disobey the Conqueror’s specific orders.”

“Then I shall go without you.”

” I cannot allow that.”

” I promise you, I will be the one to answer for the disobedience.”

He took a few moments to consider her words and finally he let out a deep sigh, ” Very well.”

As the slave exited the wagon and covered her body from head to toe with her cape, it began to snow. He helped her to his horse and they road together into camp. The smell that hit the slave’s nostrils was vile. The stench was emanating from the rotting cadavers of the recently deceased soldiers of the Imperial Guard who had succumbed to the disease. The slave covered her mouth and nose with the cape.

When they arrived at the Conqueror’s tent, they dismounted the horse and were greeted by the healer, who was surprised to see his apprentice there.

“Lady Gabrielle, thank the Gods you are here, I could use all the help I can get,” he wasted no time with inquiries as to her presence amongst them. “Would you please go and have a look at the soldiers in the tent over there,” he said and pointed to a nearby tent.

“I wish to examine the Conqueror first, if you don’t mind, Sir,” she said.

” The Conqueror’s orders are…”

“Yes. I know,” she sounded short tempered for she was anxious to see her Lord. “It is my choice to disobey and suffer the consequences,” she said, moving around him and attempting to enter the Conqueror’s tent, when she felt his hand gripping her arm and preventing her from moving forwards.

She raised her head and looked directly into his eyes with an expression he had never seen on her face before. Then he released her, realizing he might have misjudged, even underestimated the young woman.

She entered her Lord’s tent. Inside, she saw a big bonfire burning high in the middle and her Lord lying shivering under a pile of furs. The linens beneath her Lord were soaking with sweat.

The healer went in right after her.

“Has my Lord been vomiting?” she asked.

” Yes.”

“Has my Lord complained about joint pain?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Do you know what it is?”

The slave knelt beside her Lord and placed her hand over her forehead.

“My Lord is burning up,” she said to the healer, not noticing that the Conqueror had opened her eyes.

“What is she doing here?” Vexed, the Conqueror demanded to know.

Upon hearing the Conqueror’s angry voice, Milos and Neros, who were posted outside the Conqueror’s tent, rushed inside.

“You!” The Conqueror looked at Neros. ” Haven’t I given you specific orders that no one is allowed in here?!”

” Your Majesty, Gabrielle said she would claim responsibility ,” he answered, petrified.

“Are you an imbecile? She is a slave! What responsibility could she possibly claim!?”

He could do nothing but hang his head down between his shoulders in shame.

“I’m cold. Put another fur on me,” the Conqueror ordered, “then get her out of here.”

“My Lord, I’ve read about this affliction in an old Chinese healing volume. It is not poison, it’s the sweats,” the slave said. “With my Lord’s permission…” but the Conqueror slipped into deep sleep while still convulsing.

The slave’s heart sunk with dread, but she knew she could not afford to surrender to it if lives were to be saved. Taking a deep breath to consolidate her mind, she turned to the healer and saw him taking another fur to cover the Conqueror’s body.

“Stop,” she said. ” My Lord’s blood is boiling. We must cool it now.”

He opened his mouth to issue an argument, but the slave wouldn’t hear of it. “Are all the soldiers who have taken ill suffering the same symptoms?”

“They are,” he confirmed.

” Then if you want to save lives, you must listen to me, and follow my instructions ,” she said and couldn’t recognize herself.

” The sweats are caused by mosquitoes’ bites. I’ve notice we’ve passed by some moors which by and large are teeming with them.”

” We have.”

“You must order a few of the soldiers unaffected to go about half a day ride west of here and bring leaves and some of the inner core from the stem of a plant called ‘Artemisia annua.'”

“How would they recognize it?”

“It has fern-like leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a camphor-like scent. Its height averages about the Conqueror’s height and the plant has a single stem,” she explained. “If they leave now they will be back this time tomorrow.”

“What else?”

” Have the healthy soldiers burn the corpses of the dead outside camp perimeter. They mustn’t consume water filled up at the moors but melt the fresh snow or use rainwater only. The ones with the fever are to be moved outside their tents, laid down on the snow covering the ground outside, and be closely watched so that they won’t freeze to death.”

As the healer was about to exit the Conqueror’s tent, the slave stood and gripped the linens underneath the Conqueror’s body, “First help me move my Lord outside,” she said and looked at the healer and the two guardsmen.

To do that would have been to disobey the Conqueror’s direct order. None would help a slave disobeying her Master, but none hindered her actions either.

” Very well then, I’ll do it without your help, ” the slave mumbled and dragged the linens with her Lord on top of it with all the strength she could possibly muster.

Meanwhile, the healer ordered the healthy soldiers in accordance to the slave’s specific instructions.

Outside, in the snow, the slave was keeping a close watch over her Lord, observing the vapors of her hot breath in the chilling air outside, wiping the sweat off her forehead with a wet piece of cloth and minding the temperature of her shivering body, never leaving her Lord’s side. She ignored the stench of burnt bodies borne by the winds from afar. It reminded her of the day her Lord had branded her. On occasion one soldier or another would bring her a hot cop of steaming tea and some bread to keep her warm and well nourished.

Throughout the night, the slave remained vigilant. She walked around her Lord lying on the ground, circling her to generate sufficient body heat in her own bones.

A day went by and the soldiers, who had been sent to retrieve the ‘Artemisia annua’ plant, returned to camp. The slave rushed to them, took the plant and boiled it so as to brew a concoction and asked the healer to do the same.

To her horror, when she returned to her Lord’s side she immediately noticed her Lord’s chest wasn’t heaving any longer and no vapors came out of her mouth and nostrils. Terrified, the slave fell to her knees beside her Lord. She pried open her Lord’s jaw, pressed down her tongue with two small fingers and poured the warm concoction she had brewed into her Lord’s gullet.

Nothing happened.

Frantically, the slave grabbed the Conqueror by her lapels and shook her, ” Wake up!” she shouted, feeling as if the earth beneath her was shifting and was about to swallow her whole.

There was no response, not even a twitch.

It never occurred to the slave that her omnipotence Lord could yield or surrender to anything, least of all to a tiny, insignificant and powerless creature such as a mosquito. She simply couldn’t fathom such a concept.

“Wake up!” the slave shouted again with all the air in her lungs.

Hot tears began to wash her cold face and miserable wailings, which resembled that of a wounded animal, came out of her throat.

The healer, along with several other soldiers, began to gather around them, yet kept a respectable distance, as if honoring some unwritten code of privacy between Master and slave.

“Please, I beg of you, my Lord… Come back to me.” The crying slave began hitting her Lord’s chest with her little fists, completely out of her mind with something that couldn’t be defined by any other word other than sorrow.

The audience behind her simply kept still and watched her in silence, as snowflakes floated in the air around them. It’s not everyday one gets to witness a heartbroken body slave mourning the death of her Master. It was surreal.

The slave then did something she has never done before. She placed her lips over her Lord’s purplish ones. She blew her breath into her Lord’s lungs, but to no avail.

Grief-stricken, she placed her head over the unmoving chest of the Conqueror and cried her soul out. “In all my years of service to my Lord, I’ve asked not one thing of you . I pray you now – Please, don’t leave me! Fight! Fight, damn you! ” Enraged, she resumed landing her fists over her Master’s chest. “You are the Conqueror. The world cowers at your feet. Nothing has power over you, not even death!”

A burst of hot vapors erupted from the Conqueror’s mouth, like a huge cloud of smoke out of a dragon. The Conqueror opened her eyes. She looked at her slave, then threw her gaze over her slave’s shoulder and said to her subordinates: “What are you all standing around here for? Haven’t you got anything better to do? And when we return to the Realm, you’ll do well not to tell anyone I have fallen ill!”

Their audience left them alone immediately.

With the slave’s words still ringing in her ears the Conqueror couldn’t believe what she had absorbed with her own senses, such language, such fervor she’d never heard crossing the slave’s lips .

“You’re wrong,” the Conqueror said referring to her slave’s last sentence. What she meant was that that assertion wasn’t true, for a worthless slave she had purchased on a whim all these years ago had power over her, but what the slave understood was that the Conqueror truly believed she had been in Death’s grasp.

The slave asked her Lord to open her mouth. Tentatively, she placed a single finger under her Master’s tongue to check her temperature. “The fever broke,” the slave confirmed and wiped her tears on her cape sleeve. Her eyes were still bloodshot from crying and lack of sleep.

With the help of her slave, the Conqueror returned back to her tent, where her slave served her with a light meal, and fresh water.

” I don’t understand you. If I had died, you would have gained back your freedom.” The Conqueror was bewildered like never before.

The next few words that came out of the slave’s mouth stunned the Conqueror.

” I belong to my Lord,” her slave simply stated.

“You look weary,” the Conqueror finally said. “Neros will escort you back to the wagon. Get some sleep.”

But the slave didn’t move.

“Go on, now. I’ll be just fine,” the Conqueror’s lips curled upwards, almost forming a faint smile.

“My Lord should keep consuming the ‘Artemisia annua’ brew , for the betterment of health, ” the slave said before vacating the Conqueror’s tent, “and some meat and vegetables broth.”

“I shall. In six days we’ll be back in Corinth . I will not visit with you until then, for I need to regain my strength,” the Conqueror informed the slave.

After the slave had left, the Conqueror summoned her healer and ordered him to tell her everything that had happened from the point she had lost her consciousness until the moment she had regained it.

The healer told the Conqueror everything her slave had said and done.
Part 11
When good constitution was restored, the Conqueror and the Imperial Guard reached Corinth in good time.

That night, after celebrations for the Conqueror’s latest conquest had ended, the Conqueror retired to her chambers where her slave had been waiting naked and on her knees.

Upon entering her chambers, the Conqueror took off her crown and placed it over her desk. When her gaze rested on her slave, she ordered her slave to stand up and put her clothes back on.

“The healer told me everything you had said and done when I’ve been unwell,” the Conqueror began.

As the slave finished tying up the laces of her dress, she prepared herself for punishment for her insubordination during the affliction. She wasn’t sure what was the sought after response to her Lord’s last statement, so she elected to remain silent.

“ If I had died, what would you have done?” The Conqueror asked.

The slave, still not able to comprehend her Lord’s line of questioning or decipher her unusual mood, just muttered, “My Lord?”

“Are you one of those slaves who after years of slavery don’t know what to do with their new found freedom?” the Conqueror tried to simplify.

The slave paused to gather her thoughts, then replied, “ I would have gone back to my village to look for my sister I suppose, my Lord… Perhaps tried my fortune becoming a healer of sorts.”

“So when you thought I was dead, you weren’t afraid of being free, were you?”

“No, my Lord,” the slave said as she lowered her head and stared at the intricate mosaic under her feet.

“Well then, I don’t understand, what frightened you so when you thought I was dead?” the Conqueror insisted.

“ What frightened me, my Lord?”

The Conqueror was about to lose her patience. “To hear the royal healer tell it… he told me he had never seen such terror, not even upon my enemies’ faces at the sight of my drawn sword, as he had seen on your face when you thought I was gone.”

“Forgive your humble and insignificant servant, my gracious Lord, but I have no answer to give,” the slave replied as she felt massive lump of pressure in her throat that almost smothered her.

“Heed my words. I swear to you by any God you name, you will not leave this chamber until this matter is thoroughly explained to my satisfaction.” It didn’t sound like a warning or a threat, but like a promise.

More time had elapsed, but the slave remained mute, all the while thinking how audacious it was that she was denying her Master.

The Conqueror reckoned a new approach was in order. ” I give you leave to speak freely without the need to fear my retribution provided you will speak only the truth.”

“The thought of losing my Lord terrified me.”

“Yes, so much has been established already. What’s left inexplicable is the ‘why,’ and the reason for your tears.”

“For the life of me, my Lord, I don’t know. All I can say is that when I thought my Lord was lost, I felt such pain in my heart,” she spoke softly and place her hand over her chest, “like I would never be happy again.”

“What does it mean?” the Conqueror persisted. To her ears, the slave’s answer was like an enigma that might as well have been spoken in a foreign language.

But the slave just shook her head, demonstrating her ignorance.

“What else went through your head?” the Conqueror’s relentless inquiry continued.

“These longings I used to feel ever since my childhood returned when I thought my Lord was gone,” the slave gathered all her efforts to explain to her Master things she didn’t fully understand herself.

“Longing for what?”

“Longing that used to fill me with… perhaps a desire for something that would make me feel… well-contented… cherished, maybe…?” the slave’s reply sounded both like an answer and like a question.

The Conqueror and slave stood facing each other until the Conqueror turned her back to her slave. Now facing her desk, she leaned over it, while supporting her weight with both her hands upon its surface, her gaze fixated on her Crown. The Conqueror shook her head in disbelief, and muttered under her breath, “It can’t be… not after…”

The slave saw the Conqueror move one hand to shield her countenance.

In one moment of epiphany, the slave understood, and with her Lord’s back to her still, she was brave enough to say, ” The night my Lord left her mark on me, the pain was excruciating and I was frightened beyond reason, but when my Lord… took me… I can’t explain why, but I found pleasure in my Lord’s commanding power, and I found serenity and gratification in the pain. That was when I first learned a shameful truth about myself: I take pleasure in my Lord’s control and mastery and at times I crave the pain my Lord delivers as much as I suspect my Lord needs and desires to deliver it and to dominate me….”

Brusquely , the Conqueror turned to face her slave. “So your testimony in court before me…” her voice trailed off, inviting a response.

“Was the truth, my Lord,” the slave finished her Lord’s sentence.

The Conqueror took a few moments to process her slave’s unbelievable words, her glaring eyes fixated on the pitiful slave standing small and timid in her chambers. “Some find pleasure in inflicting pain, like me; others find pleasure in receiving it. It is a matter of personal taste, therefore it is not a matter of shame or morals,” the Conqueror explained as she closed the gap between them with a few wide gaits.

Standing toe to toe with the young slave, to whom she owed her life, the Conqueror put a tender finger under the slave’s chin. “Look at me,” she asked, not commanded.

The slave lifted up her head and looked into the Conqueror’s eyes. Her heart lost a beat and her legs trembled like they had trembled standing on the slavers’ ramp all those years ago .

“Do you care for me, Gabrielle ?” the Conqueror asked.

If it weren’t for her Lord’s arm wrapped around her lean waist, Gabrielle would surely have collapsed to the ground.

“I do, my Lord,” she replied.

The Conqueror slowly leaned down till her face was short of an inch away from the young woman’s face, when she saw a single tear role down Gabrielle’s face and her jade eyes shimmering with unshed ones.

“Don’t you want me to kiss you?” the Conqueror’s voice was low and soft.

“I do, my Lord,” Gabrielle answered.

“What is it, then?”

“I’ve never been kissed before, my Lord.” She sounded ashamed and bereaved.

“I’ll be gentle,” the Conqueror smiled with kindness.

The Conqueror pressed her lips to the lips of the woman in her arms and kissed them slowly and tentatively.

Gabrielle’s body awakened when she felt her Lord’s warm touch and the singeing breath of her Lord against her skin, as her Lord wandered to her ear, leaving burning sensation in her wake.

“I welcome the use of your hands,” Gabrielle heard her Lord whisper in her ear, sending a hot shudder down her body that pricked her nipples.

When her Lord’s lips returned to hers, Gabrielle touched her fingertips to the corners of the Conqueror’s mouth and proud jaw and parted her lips, inviting the Conqueror’s tongue into her mouth.

The feel of the Conqueror’s tongue bathing hers, twirling around hers, filling her mouth so perfectly, so sensuously left Gabrielle weak, dizzy and gasping for air, but it was her Lord’s singular act of utter tenderness that tore her heart asunder.

“My Lord’s kisses are so deep,” she whispered faintly, “They steal my breath away and I can hardly stand.”

As the Conqueror lifted her up and cradled her in her strong arms, Gabrielle delved her hands into the Conqueror’s smooth ebony hair, and pulled her Lord down to deepen their connection, making the Conqueror groan her pleasure as she tasted the delectable sweetness of Gabrielle’s wet tongue.

First rays of light invaded the Conqueror’s chambers and early birds began their chirping, but as the Conqueror was feeding off Gabrielle’s mouth, saturating the young woman’s heart with so much longing it hurt, the world outside and everything in it were dead to her.

The Conqueror carried Gabrielle to her bed, where she slowly undid the laces of her dress, allowing it to slide down to the ground, and then ridded herself of her own regalia.

The Conqueror sat cross-legged on the bed and Gabrielle was straddling on top of her, her thighs wrapped tightly around the Conqueror’s waist, their famished lips still locked and their tongues still compressed against one another in a ravenous caustic kiss no force on earth could degauss.

Gabrielle felt the increasing pressure of her sex being parted by her Lord’s fingers and something stiff and thick at her center. The Conqueror’s fingers passed by a soft sodden patch of trimmed gold tinted down and warm succulent folds without resistance. The Conqueror’s phallus was cleaving its way into Gabrielle’s steaming womanhood easily. The smaller woman emitted an uncharacteristic moan as a blinding rush of pleasure coursed through her. Her soaking sex pulped against her Lord’s abdomen, as she lowered her sex down harder onto the Conqueror’s shaft, taking it into her, clinging to the Conqueror’s stalwart shoulders for support, her fingernails digging into the Conqueror’s back, raking a trail from her lower back to her nape, and drawing her Master’s seething blood.

“I want to hear you, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror’s passion-driven voice encouraged her.

Gabrielle felt in her shaking bones that her Lord would bring her paralyzing deliverance, and leave her body enfeebled, sore and satisfied. She freed her voice, which was silent for so many years in her Lord’s service, and groaned her pleasure for her Master.

“That’s it, my sweet Gabrielle,” the Conqueror encouraged her on, entranced by the mesmerizing sight of Gabrielle’s ample breasts heaving and swaying to the indolent cadence she ordained.

As Gabrielle began moving her hips sensually backwards and forwards, the Conqueror couldn’t take her eyes off her: the way her magnificent body moved; the way her spine twitched, the way her prominent luscious breasts swayed; the way her muscled abdomen stretched, her perfect sex slithering up and down her member, the expression of desire painted on her exquisite features, the sheen that covered her soft skin.

“Harder, my Lord,” Gabrielle pleaded.

The Conqueror pushed forwards till Gabrielle’s back was pressed against the bed and the Conqueror was on top of her, their lips and hips still locked. The Conqueror’s thrusts became deeper, harder and faster. She watched Gabrielle’s face contorting with the ultimate raw pleasure. Their bodies were jerking in an unadulterated ecstasy, allowing their climax to claim them.

“Let me hear you!” the Conqueror’s voice roared when the waves of the storm continued.

As Gabrielle screams of release erupted from her throat, the Conqueror rode her still, and kept ramming into her with long hard jabs, bringing her rapture upon rapture till they couldn’t endure any longer.

When the last ripples subsided, the Conqueror whispered the word ‘Gabrielle’ over and over into the ears of the petite woman beneath her.

***

Close to noon, the chambermaid Satrina entered the Conqueror’s bedchamber to find Master and slave naked in bed, their bodies intertwined.

“Leave us alone,” the Conqueror commanded and the chambermaid bowed, covered her eyes and left the Imperial chambers.

Upon hearing her Lord’s voice, Gabrielle woke up in her Lord’s engulfing arms.

“Forgive me, my Lord, for falling asleep…”

“There’s no need for that. From now on you are welcome to spend the nights in my chambers.”

“If it pleases my Lord,” Gabrielle replied.

“Would it please you?”

“It would, my Lord.”
Part 12

Two nights after they had returned from Persia , Gabrielle was awoken in the Conqueror’s bed by a ray of sunshine that invaded the Imperial bedchambers, and by two muffled sounds coming from an outer chamber. She walked tentatively towards the door barefoot, so as not to make a sound and let her presence be known. She squatted down and pressed her eye to the keyhole. In the Conqueror’s study, she had seen her Master standing next to her spacious luxurious desk, in full regalia, with her hands clasped tightly behind her back.

“Phillipon’s son, the one who fancies men, general…” the Conqueror’s inquired.

“He was stationed with the infantry, first line of attack, as your Majesty ordered. He died on the battlefield.”

Gabrielle was stunned to hear that her second owner was deliberately ordered to be placed in harm’s way by the Conqueror. She wasn’t sure as to how she should feel upon learning of his untimely death. She wasn’t glad and didn’t gloat. If anything, in a weird sort of way, she felt sorry for her young owner. Sorry that he had been unfortunate enough to have owned a body slave, who was later owned by a possessive Master such as hers, who was powerful enough to orchestrate his death. People didn’t name her Lord ‘the Destroyer of Nations’, for nothing.

“Was Phillipon notified that his son was killed on the battlefield, general?” the Conqueror asked and threw a glance outside the window.

“That’s another misfortune that has befallen upon the family, Majesty…Phillipon was found dead last night, not twenty feet away from his villa.”

“Is that so?”

To Gabrielle, the Conqueror sounded disturbingly not surprised.

“He was murdered,” the general stated.

“Was he now?!”

The Conqueror sounded not the least bit astounded by the news, and when she turned to face the man with whom she was speaking, Gabrielle could see her Lord’s icy cobalt eyes through the keyhole.

“Indeed, Majesty. His purse was missing and the local constable investigating the matter is in the belief that Phillipon was murdered during a robbery,” the general said and cleared his throat.

Gabrielle’s mind raced back to the events of last night and was horrified when she realized that the previous night the Conqueror had arrived at the Imperial bedchamber not before the small hours of the night, which had been somewhat unusual, but she had thought nothing of it at the time.

“Oh? And what do you believe?” the Conqueror’s cold eyes narrowed.

Gabrielle immediately detected the unmistakable danger in her Lord’s voice.

“W…well…it is not for me to say…” he stammered and rubbed his sweaty palms over his trousers.

“I will not repeat my question,” the Conqueror informed him with a tone of voice that reminded him he was speaking to the Lord of the Realm.

“If robbery had been the motive, he wouldn’t have been stabbed over forty times, Majesty. One stab to his guts would have sufficed,” he replied and distress was written across him.

“You may leave,” the Conqueror waved her hand at him, and the general seemed only too eager to leave her burdening presence. He turned on his heels and nearly trampled over himself as he made his way to the door. A thought crossed his mind. It was the same thought that crossed Gabrielle’s mind exactly, the thought being, how fortunate it was that the Conqueror’s body slave’s list of previous owners had been short.

***

Since the return of the Conqueror from Persia, Gabrielle would spend her evenings and nights in the Conqueror’s chambers, and each morning they went their separate ways, the Conqueror to rule her Empire and Gabrielle to mind the staff’s young and to apprentice the healer.

One evening the Conqueror asked her slave about the circumstance which had landed her into a life of slavery.

“My sister Lila had taken ill with a rare disease. The village healer exhausted all his efforts to cure her and failed, so the county healer was brought to aid her. His fee was steep and my parents were destitute, so my father sold me to him in exchange for him saving my sister,” Gabrielle answered with difficulty like she was talking about something she did not wish to remember.

“You must bear ill-feelings towards your father,” the Conqueror said.

“Not at all, my Lord. Had he not sold me, my dear sister would have died. I would have sold myself to save her. My parents died two winters after I had been sold to the county healer. He didn’t give me leave to attend their funeral. I haven’t seen or heard from my beloved sister for over thirteen winters, ever since I was sold at twelve.”

***

“The Lord Conqueror!” the ceremony master announced.

The Conqueror strode into the Great Hall. The noblemen, who had been waiting her arrival, ceased all conversations among themselves and bowed before her as the Conqueror made her way to her throne.
“What is on today’s agenda, noblemen?” the Conqueror asked after she had seated herself.

“Lao-Ling, Princess of the house of Lao from the Kingdom of Chin, sent word that she is to arrive in Greece in two days time. As your Majesty knows, during the glorious and victorious campaign in Persia , her mother, Lao-Ma, passed away and her father is still in poor health,” the nobleman Perous informed his Sovereign.

“Princess Lao-Ling is de facto the ruler of her domain,” the Conqueror said.

“That is correct, Majesty,” Perous confirmed. “She wishes an audience with your Majesty.”

“Send a message to her. Tell her that I am honored to welcome her to the Realm and that it would please me if she would accept my invitation to enjoy my hospitality,” the Conqueror said, then beckoned with her hand for Karpa the steward.

He approached the Conqueror’s throne and bowed before her. “Make all the necessary arrangements,” she ordered.

“Right away, Majesty,” he bowed his head again.

“Now, is there anything else, noblemen?”

***

That evening after supper had been served in the Conqueror’s chambers, Master and slave were leisurely immersed in the specious steamy Roman style bath, the Conqueror’s back leaning against the bath’s ivory marble wall and the slave’s back against her Master’s chest.

“In two days time Princess Lao-Ling from the Kingdom of Chin will be coming here to visit with me,” the Conqueror said.

“I’m sure my Lord is very pleased,” the slave replied, moving away from the Conqueror and swimming to the other side of the bath to reach for the bar of soap. She lathered her hands with soap and when a fine layer of foam appeared, she delved her fingers into her hair and tenderly moved them against her scalp.

The Conqueror leered at the apex of Gabrielle’s supremely shaped breasts above the waterline, and in a moment of forgetfulness, the Conqueror said: “You will greet my guest with me.”

“If I may, my Lord.” Gabrielle felt the combination of both surprise and embarrassment within her.

“You may.”

“It might disgrace my Lord being seen with me in public and in such elevated capacity.”

The Conqueror said nothing.

When she finished bathing, Gabrielle immerged out of the bath, the water cascading down her body as if idolizing her.

From her vantage point, the Conqueror espied Gabrielle’s sensual movement and the persistent droplets of water that clung to her nipples.

“There is no remedy,” the Conqueror said eventually.

“With your permission, may I suggest my Lord would grant me my freedom,” the slave said with bowed head. She couldn’t tell where had such brave, almost brazen remark had come from.

“Don’t be absurd, you are mine!” The Conqueror cut her off mid-sentence with a voice laden with ire and left the slave mute.

The slave waited a few moments to allow her Lord’s wrath to pass.

“I apologize for making you angry, my Lord.” The slave covered her body with a clean dry towel, and observed her Lord as she was exiting the bath.

When she felt her Master’s arms engulfing her small frame, the slave went on to say: ” Nothing on this earth could change what has already been established so profoundly over the seasons, that I belong to my Lord, and to my Lord alone always, least of all a piece of parchment stating my freedom. However, in terms of perception, for the world outside that piece of parchment is required, not to me, my Lord.”

The Conqueror took Gabrielle’s hand into her hers and led her to bed.

“I know I’ve rarely ever shown you any kindness over the years, even though it was well within my power to do so. I have denied you even the tiniest of graces, even a proper bed to lie in.”
When they reached the Conqueror’s bed, the slave allowed her towel to fall down her body and land on the floor.

“Please, f orgive my foolishness. My Lord needn’t explain…” she said and lay on the bed and welcomed her Lord to join her with open suppliant arms.

***

“Princess Lao-Ling,” announced the ceremony master and a petite woman entered the Great Hall.

As the young princess was walking with small steps towards the Conqueror’s throne, the crowd of curious noblemen cleared a path for her and bowed before her.

Princess Lao-Ling was no more than twenty years of age. Her Royal gown was made with the finest of Chin’s silk. Her complexion was as white as milk, her long smooth hair was as black as coal and her lips tiny and red like a rosebud.

“Princess Lao-Ling,” the Conqueror gestured with her head.

“Your Majesty,” the young royal curtsied.

“First, allow me to welcome you to the Realm and extend my sincere condolences. Your mother was a very fine lady and a great as well as a wise leader.”

“Thank you, your Majesty,” the princess replied.

“I have a gift for you,” the Conqueror said and signaled one of her servants in waiting to approach.

The servant, who was carrying a small ornaments wooden chest, opened it and presented it to the Princess.

Inside, there was a marvelous necklace with Corinth ‘s finest rubies set in gold.

“It is exquisite, your Majesty, thank you. I see my mother’s words regarding your Majesty’s generosity and charm were well deserved,” said the oriental princess.

“It is my pleasure. I was told that you wished for an audience with me. What can we do for you?”

“I have come before your Majesty to propose a marriage between the house of Lao and the Realm,” replied the princess.

“A marriage between me and you,” the Conqueror said, as if to confirm.

“Indeed, your Majesty.”

“I am honored and I will consider your proposal, Princess Lao-Ling. In the meantime, you are welcome to stay here as my guest and join my table at the banquet in your honor this evening.”

“Thank you, your Majesty,” the Princess curtsied before leaving the Conqueror’s presence to be shown to her quarters.

After she left, the Conqueror turned to the noblemen.

“Well, Perous, Marton… and the lot of you, what do you think?” the Conqueror demanded to know.

“She is very rich, your Majesty. She is young and beautiful, and by all accounts a maiden still,” nobleman Marton was the first to offer his opinion.

“Indeed, Majesty,” nobleman Perous joined nobleman Marton, “We are very fortunate. The Princess has many suitors.”

“I was ambushed!!” the Conqueror’s voice roared and echoed throughout the Great Hall. “What are all of you idlers, useless scroungers good for, then? You should have learned of her intentions before she ever set foot in Greece . It is your duty to keep me well informed.”

The noblemen kept their heads down as their Sovereign admonished them.

“We apologize before your Majesty for our gross incompetence. However, we recommend your Majesty consider marrying the young princess from the house of Lao,” said nobleman Marton. “Your subjects are concerned with your Majesty’s succession, and are anxious for your Majesty to produce an issue.”

“I have no appetite for her,” the Conqueror rejected their advice.

“We understand that your Majesty has better appetite for the little body slave, but surely Princess Lao-Ling is by far better suited for you Majesty,” argued nobleman Perous, foolishly letting his Sovereign be better aware of the fact that little is kept clandestine in the Realm.

The Conqueror grabbed him by the lapel of his fancy coat, and hissed between her teeth, “I urge you sir, to tread very lightly from now on.”

“Your Majesty could still keep the slave girl as a mistress. It should not pose any impediment to the marriage… On the contrary, it is to be expected,” nobleman Marton tried to appease his Sovereign.

“A slave,” the Conqueror exclaimed then paused, “M y slave has nothing to do with it… Still, she obtains grace and favor in my sight, ” she continued and returned to sit on her throne.

“She will forever remain in our eyes as nothing more than a body slave of low breeding,” said nobleman Perous.

“I am of ‘low breeding’, and you owe the life of your son and heir to that body slave. She healed his broken leg some years ago when he had fallen off a fence, you feebleminded ingrate. You may leave my sight now and you will be stripped of your fortune and power which I bestowed upon you forthwith.”

He bowed before the Conqueror and left the Great Hall.

“With all due respect, your Majesty, marriage to the house of Lao brings with it great fortune, the dowry alone…” said nobleman Marton.

“So I am to submit my will and inclinations for the benefit of my own Realm, does it sound reasonable to you all?”

There was silence, and as a last effort, nobleman Marton said, “Majesty… the slave…”

“ The last of the peasants in the Realm is free to choose his wife and I am being dictated to. Am I not Conqueror of this Realm?!” The Conqueror was livid. “ I shall show you will! I shall free the slave girl and make her a citizen and a Lady of this Realm, and then I shall marry her, making her your Queen. We are to be married in a fortnight. Your presence, noblemen, is demanded. Should you fail to appear, I would consider it a slight against me.” The Conqueror stood up abruptly and strode out of the Great Hall to ready herself for the banquet, as her stumped subjects bowed before her.

After she had had supper in the kitchen, Gabrielle retired to her chamber. While she was reading a volume she had borrowed from the Imperial library, her thoughts began to wander to the princess currently visiting with her Lord. Her imagination presented her with possible images as to the young heiress to the house of Lao’ appearance and mannerisms. She tried to push those thoughts away and focus her attention back to the scrolls she was trying to read, but for some reason unrelenting thoughts of the young oriental princess kept finding themselves back into her mind and wouldn’t let her alone.

She realized the princess’s presence in the palace bothered, even troubled her. She had reached a point where she realized there was no use going on pretending to read and her mind was made to go and catch a glimpse of the princess.

When Gabrielle was nearing the Great Hall, music reached her ears. She peeked into the Great Hall and when she was confidant she wouldn’t be noticed, she moved quickly to hide behind one of the pillars close to the entrance.

From her hiding place, she saw the young princess from a distance. She was dressed as a princess, to be sure, and the slave noticed the necklace around the princess’s neck. She immediately recognized the Corinthian style, which left no doubt in her mind that the jewel had been a gift from her Lord. The princess carried herself with great dignity, grace and sophistication. The slave couldn’t deny how beautiful and exotic the princess was. Noblemen and Ladies of the Realm were circling her and the princess masterfully gave her attention to all of them, cultivating and encouraging their own sense of self-importance. Everyone was paying her utmost respect and they all seemed to hold her in high regards. It was obvious that princess Loa-Ling had enjoyed all the advantages of a royal upbringing.

The slave saw the Conqueror stand up, step down from her throne and signal to the head musician.

Music suited for dancing commenced and the Conqueror offered her hand to the young princess, who seemed familiar with Greek culture and mastered the dancing moves and steps. At that moment, it occurred to the slave that she didn’t know how to dance and how pathetic it was that a foreign woman had even this advantage over her.

The slave watched her Lord and the princess dancing together, their bodies moving together wonderfully. She witnessed the exchange of words between them, but on account of the distance, the music and the constant chatter in the Great Hall, she couldn’t hear what they were saying. All she could see was the princess covering her small mouth as she was modestly laughing about something that the Conqueror had whispered in her ear.

As the slave slipped out of the Great Hall, she reckoned it would be best if she spent the night in her own chamber for she didn’t wish to inconvenience her Lord should her Lord elect to entertain the princess in her Imperial bedchamber. As she walked through the corridors back to her chamber, she felt her heart beating slowly, heavily and painfully, as if it was about to cease at any moment, and she leaned against the corridor’s wall to support herself. When she at last reached her small grey chamber, she landed onto her small pallet with a sorrow too great for tears. Her last thought before drifting off to sleep was how preposterous and even outlandish it was that she, a mere slave, should feel what could best be described as jealousy towards her Master.

When the banquet was finally over, the Conqueror was left alone in the Great Hall with the princess.

“The banquet was yet another testament to your Majesty’s generosity, and I am grateful,” the princess said.

“It was well deserved, princess, and I wish to convey to you how deeply honored I truly am by your proposal. I have given it a great deal of consideration, but alas I must decline it,” said the Conqueror.

“May I ask why, your Majesty?”

“I’m afraid it has to do with intricate internal politics in the Realm, dear princess,” the Conqueror answered.

“Nothing to do with a certain slave, then, your Majesty,” the astute princess smiled knowingly and had the upper hand catching the Conqueror off guard. “I mean no disrespect, your Majesty, but word of her stunning beauty and gentle heart has reached my kingdom. I make it my business to study my competition beforehand, just as your Majesty does before conquering new lands.”

The Conqueror folded her arms over her chest. “You are your mother’s daughter. She would have been proud of you. ”

“With your permission, your Majesty, I should very much like to meet her,” the princess said.

“Granted,” replied the Conqueror.

“Thank you, your Majesty and good night.”

“Good night, princess.”

***

Gabrielle felt a pair of warm lips grazing her nape, then a thick wet tongue snaking sensually down her naked back. Gabrielle recognized the touch and scent of her Lord immediately and she clutched the sheets beneath her with both hands, readying herself for the pleasure to continue. She ignored her initial surprise that the Conqueror had come to her chamber, something the Conqueror has never done before.

”My Lord…” she moaned, “My gracious Lord,” she whispered when she felt her Lord’s dark mane covering her back like a blanket and prickling her skin.

“Wake up, Gabrielle, I have something to tell you,” the Conqueror said and seated herself on the small wooden stool next to her slave’s pallet.

Gabrielle turned to lie on her back and observed her Master.

“The subject of a marriage between the Princess of the house of Lao and myself arose. Such union would be beneficiary to the Realm.”

The slave was snapped out of the haze of slumber and arousal and she moved to sit on her pallet and felt a sudden need to cover her body.

“Of course, my Lord. The princess is a fortunate woman, and my Lord could not have found a better match. The Princess is beautiful…”
“You’ve seen her…” It wasn’t a question but a realization.

“Forgive your insignificant servant, my Lord. Curiosity got the better of me…” said the slave. ” Will…” she began to ask but her voice trembled. She composed herself until upon her face the customary mask of a hollow expression was secured and impenetrable. ” Will my Lord be needing my service still?” she asked.

“You will do me a great service and honor should you grant your consent to be my wife, and become Queen to my Realm,” the Conqueror smiled.

For a moment the slave thought she was still dreaming. She moved to kneel at her Lord’s feet. “My Lord,” she sighed, at a loss for words. “I am unworthy of such tremendous honor. I vow to be a devoted and true wife to my Lord and a gracious Queen to my Lord’s subjects,” the slave said and showered the Conqueror’s knuckles with adoring kisses.

The Conqueror cupped her future wife’s face in her hands. “First thing tomorrow morning I will have my secretary draw up a decree stating your freedom and another making you Lady of the Realm for me to sign. As a Lady, you will receive the isle of Crete .” The Conqueror’s hands moved lower against Gabrielle’s face and over her jaw line until they rested on top of her collar. She unbuckled the leather strip carrying her insignia and took the collar off from around Gabrielle’s neck.

“My Lord is too generous,” Gabrielle smiled with brilliant eyes and rubbed the skin of her neck where the collar had been, which was pale and a tad irritated. It hadn’t been the honor, financial gain or power that made her heart leap with unimaginable happiness, not even the restoration of her freedom, but becoming her Lord’s wife. She placed her hand over the Conqueror’s hand, which was still holding the collar. “May I keep it, my Lord?” she asked.

The intrigued Conqueror raised an eyebrow. “You may,” she eventually said and handed the collar over to Gabrielle. “I shall have the seamstresses design their finest creations for you to wear.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” the slave fought back tears.

“And Princess Lao-Ling requested an audience with you.”

“I will be honored to meet with her, with your permission, my Lord.”

“You must do as you wish,” the Conqueror said, then added, “You must promise me something, my Lady.” She smiled.

“Anything, my gracious Lord.”

“That you never set foot in this chamber ever again,” the Conqueror said and lifted Gabrielle in her arms.

Gabrielle threw her loving arms around the Conqueror’s neck and embraced her as tightly as her strength allowed, “You have my word, my Lord.”

The Conqueror took her future Queen to the Imperial bed.
Part 13
The next morning Gabrielle woke up in an empty bed. Her body was satisfied and her heart and soul were elated with happiness she had never before experienced in all her life. As soon as she opened her eyes, she saw the new dress, which was carefully laid on the Conqueror’s armchair, and an impeccable red rose on the pillow next to it. Joyfully, she leaped out of bed and put on the extravagant dress, which was dark green with pearls and strings of gold sown into the expensive fabric. It was a dress worthy of a queen, with a bustle, which pressed her frontal assets together and pushed them upwards, just like she had seen other ladies wear. Gabrielle knew that dress must have been worth more than her late father’s entire farm and then some, and yet, it was the rose that had gratified her more.

When she exited the Conqueror’s chambers she met with Satrina, the chambermaid, in the corridor.

“My Lady,” the chambermaid curtsied.

“Good morning, Satrina,” Gabrielle replied, astonished that the change in her station was already known. As she passed through the corridors on her way to the kitchen, each and every one of the palace’s stuff she chanced upon curtsied and addressed her as ‘My Lady.’

When she entered the kitchen for some light breakfast, the master cook curtsied and said, ” My Lady might wish to join the Lord Conqueror in the dining hall.”

To Gabrielle, it was as if she had wandered into a strange world in which up was down and black was white and nothing made sense anymore.

She entered the dining hall and saw the Conqueror and her secretary leaning over a couple of scrolls and the Conqueror was signing each of them and embedding her Imperial Seal into the red wax near her signature.

“It is done,” the Conqueror declared when she raised her eyes from the scrolls to meet Gabrielle’s, “And good morning to you, my Lady.”

“A wonderful morning to you, my Lord,” Gabrielle smiled and curtsied deeply till one of her knees nearly touched the ground.

The Conqueror got off her chair and moved from around the dining table, relishing Gabrielle’s grace and beauty. “It suits you, my Lady,” she acknowledged with adoring eyes.

“Thank you, my Lord,” she replied.

“Unfortunately I can’t stay and dine with you. I have a pressing matter which requires my attention, but Princess Lao-Ling is sauntering in the Imperial rose garden,” the Conqueror informed her. “I will see you later on,” she said and left the dining hall.

Lady Gabrielle decided to forgo breakfast. She was anxious to meet with the Princess of the house of Lao.

In the Imperial rose garden, Lady Gabrielle spotted the Princess strolling with two of her servants. The sun was merciful that morning and the colorful roses where in full glorious bloom, spreading their alluring odors to the fresh air.

“Your Majesty,” the young Lady curtsied.

“You must be Lady Gabrielle,” smiled the young Princess.

They each took a few short moments to assess each other up close.

“I am, your Majesty.”

“Last night you were still a slave, so I venture to say congratulations are in order,” the Princess offered with kindness. “Am I correct to assume that the Lord Conqueror proposed to you last night?”

“My Lord has.” Gabrielle immediately felt like she had offended the Princess, or rather took, or better yet stole something from her, “I feel like I should apologize to your Majesty…”

“Not at all, dear Lady.”

“I feel so unworthy…” Gabrielle’s sentiments were genuine. She felt like she had been offered a part, which she weren’t prepared for, and better still, she was chosen for some obscure reason while there was another much better equipped and much better qualified to play that role.

“Perish the thought. My late mother, Lao-Ma, had been the courtesan of the ruler of a rival house before she became the ruler of the house of Lao. I have nothing but respect for you, my Lady.”

The two women kept on walking in the gravel paving the path.

“That is very kind of you to say, your Majesty,” said Gabrielle as the two women walked through the meticulously maintained garden.

“I’ve heard good things about you,” said the Princess and looked at Gabrielle. “Don’t look so surprised. I have my sources within the Realm as I’m sure the Conqueror has sources in mine.”

“Thank you, your Majesty.”

“I wish to love you as my sister,” the Princess said sincerely.

“I should like that very much,” replied Lady Gabrielle and stopped to stand facing the Princess.

“May I give you a piece of advice?” asked the Princess.

“Please do,” the young Lady was only too keen to welcome the Princess’ guidance, “I wasn’t born into royalty . I feel so out of my element . I don’t wish to be the cause of any embarrassment to my Lord.”

“My first advice to you is to mind who you allow close to you. There will be those who will seek your favors in order to get close to the Conqueror, knowing you have her ear and for that reason alone. You must learn everyone’s motivations and agendas before you place any trust in them. It is paramount and a great advantage to know who you can trust and who isn’t worthy of your trust.”

“I will remember.”

“Also, some will envy you and resent your ascension. Those with malice in their hearts might let you think that the Lord Conqueror chose you as wife and Queen over me just to prove a point to her noblemen. You mustn’t heed them. Know that the Lord Conqueror bears you great affection,” stated the Princess with candor.

Lady Gabrielle was so moved by the Princess’ last words she wasn’t certain her voice would hold. Coming from the Princess of the house of Loa, at that moment they sounded like the truth to her. “Thank you, your Majesty,” she finally managed.

“You must demand your future subjects’ respect. Some may not yield to you otherwise. You are no longer a slave. You must always keep that in mind. You must neither ignore nor pardon any disrespect or allow others to be familiar with you, for two reasons: they owe you respect and also, any disrespect towards you is disrespect towards the Conqueror.”

Lady Gabrielle nodded her head, indicating that she understood and accepted the Princess’ recommendation fully.

“And lastly, you must always place the Lord Conqueror above all others.”

“That is the simplest tasks of all,” the Lady chuckled.

But the Princess remained serious. “It might seem simple to you now, but the future might hold unexpected conflicts between your Lord’s will and the will of others close to you, like your family or even your future children. It is my advice to you then to never allow anyone between you and your Lord.”

“I have every intention to be an obedient and loyal wife to my Lord, and to place my Lord above all others,” the Lady solemnly professed.

The Princess smiled and stopped to smell a white rose. “If you wish and with the Lord Conqueror’s permission, I will instruct my ambassador to the Realm to render good and honest advice to you whenever you need it all in good faith.”

“I would be grateful, thank you, your Majesty. May I ask that your Majesty attend our wedding ceremony?”

“I will be honored, my sister,” the Princess said and embraced the future Queen of the Realm.

While Lady Gabrielle and Princess Lao-Ling were strolling at their leisure in the Imperial gardens, the Conqueror summoned a few of her spies to report to her. When they stood before her, she ordered them, “You are to locate the whereabouts of Lady Gabrielle’s sister, Lila of Potidaea . You will make your inquiries a secret. Once you find her, you will not approach her. Be diligent in your efforts and don’t return before you have found her.”

***

It was seven days before the Imperial wedding. The Conqueror, Lady Gabrielle and a dozen soldiers from the Imperial Guard were on route to a small village in Macedonia . As they were all riding on horseback in the more rural parts of the Realm, the villagers stopped working their fields and bowed before their Sovereign as she passed them by. The Conqueror’s presence in these parts was welcomed with much excitement and exaltation, for it was an exceptionally uncommon occurrence.

“How are you managing the ride, my Lady?” the Conqueror asked.

“My Lord’s riding lessons are proving to be vital,” the Lady answered then added, “My Lord still hasn’t told me where we are headed.”

“All in good time, my Lady. It is a surprise,” the Conqueror replied.

Nearing dusk, the Conqueror, her Lady and their entourage halted their horses near a shabby farm. The Conqueror and her soldiers dismounted the animals and the Conqueror offered her arms and assisted her future Queen down safely to the ground.

In the field there was a man stacking piles of hay with a pitchfork, with two small boys assisting him. Behind him stood a dilapidated hut and a dark-haired woman was looking out the kitchen window.

“Who lives here, my Lord?” the Lady asked.

“You shall soon find out,” the Conqueror replied cryptically.

As soon as the peasant saw the Conqueror and Lady Gabrielle approaching him, he turned his head back to the woman in the window and shouted, “Wife! Wife! Get out here!” before dashing towards the Conqueror.

The woman came running out of the hut like a crazed woman while frantically wiping her hands on her stained apron and tidying her unkempt tattered dress. “Come here, boys!” she cried to her sons and they went to rush to their mother’s side.

As the family reached the Conqueror and her companion, they all dropped to their knees and said, “Your Majesty,” in humility.

Lady Gabrielle thought she recognized something familiar in the woman kneeling before her.

“Rise,” the Conqueror said and leaned down to help the woman to her feet, who with all the excitement of the Royal visit, paid little attention to the elegant lady at the Conqueror’s side.

“Lila,” the Conqueror called to the perplexed and timid woman standing before her, who had no earthly idea what the Conqueror of the Realm would be doing on her wretched insignificant farm, least of all knowing her by name.

Upon hearing the word “Lila” being uttered by her Lord, Lady Gabrielle gasped in complete astonishment.

“Allow me to introduce to you my future wife and Queen of my Realm, your sister, Gabrielle,” announced the Conqueror.

Lila shot a disbelieving look at the woman standing at the Conqueror’s side and then took a closer look of the Lady’s face and eyes. “Gabrielle?” she whispered in skepticism, completely forgetting herself. She reached to touch the Lady’s face and the Imperial Guard reached for their weapons.

“Stand down!” the Conqueror ordered her soldiers.

“Lila,” Lady Gabrielle sighed and stroked the cheek of the woman standing before her as if trying to re-familiarize herself with it.

The two sisters fell on each other’s necks and embraced for long blissful moments, nearly drowning in tears.

“Herodotus, Germanicus,” Lila called for her two boys when she finally let go of her sister. “This is my sister, your aunt, Gabrielle,” she told them, then turned back to her sister and said, “I have named my eldest after father.”

“You have two sons,” Gabrielle beamed with pure delight then turned to the Conqueror and said, “My Lord, I have two nephews.” There was no denying her immense gratitude to her Lord at that moment, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the Conqueror.

“And a husband,” Lila said, “Agrippa.”

“Your Majesty,” Agrippa bowed before the Conqueror.

“Your Majesty,” repeated his two boys, ages six and eight, and bowed before their Sovereign.

“Your Majesty is most welcome to our humble home,” Agrippa said.

“Set up camp,” the Conqueror ordered her soldiers before she and her Lady went into Lila’s house.

When entering the hut, the Conqueror had to lower her head to avoid the lintel. When the Conqueror stretched back to her full stature, the two children tilted their heads so far backwards to look upon their Ruler, it was as though they were standing at the foot of a mountain and looking at its summit.

Inside, the Conqueror was offered the best place by the fire.

“Will my Lord allow me but a few moments alone with my sister,” Lady Gabrielle appealed to the Conqueror.

“By all means, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied and the two sisters went into the kitchen to prepare supper.

Alone in the kitchen, behind the closed door, they hugged each other tightly again and studied the changes time and life had made in them, still dazed with extraordinary amazement and joy.

“Look at you, all dressed up. And what is this I hear about you being a future wife and Queen to the Conqueror?”

“A lot has happened to me over the past thirteen years.” Gabrielle hardly knew where to begin.

“Since father had sold you to the county healer to save my life,” Lila said and stroked her sister’s golden hair she had always envied, “I still can’t believe you are here. I thought I would never see you again.”

“And you… a wife and a mother… all grown up…” Gabrielle sighed.

“I was married to Agrippa not long after you’d been sold, and moved with him to live here,” Lila told her sister and began to chop carrots and onions for the stew. “And you and I lost all contact . I didn’t know where you were.”

“I was kept as a domestic in the county healer’s household, but when I’d… matured, I was sold to Phillipon, commander of the third battalion, as a body slave to his youngest son. After that, just shy of my eighteenth birthday, the Conqueror bought me. I have been my Lord’s body slave since then,” Gabrielle said quietly.

“I heard some wild stories about the Conqueror’s body slave who had testified in some major trial by the name ‘Gabrielle.’ I just didn’t know it was you… Not much news from Corinth reaches these parts. We are but humble commoners,” Lila said and added, ” By the Gods.”

Some time had elapsed in which each sister was immersed in her own thoughts, contemplating what to say to the other.

It was Lila who finally broke the silence. “The Conqueror’s body slave… I tell you one thing, sister, the Conqueror’s carnal exploits and depraved appetites never skipped, not even these parts.”

“I beg you, sister, not to speak ill of my Lord,” Gabrielle said gently yet firmly.

Lila found it hard, nearly impossible, to comply with her sister’s request.

As the two sisters where in the kitchen, the Conqueror remained seated by the fire with Agrippa and his two sons, who couldn’t help but stare at the tall, dark and formidable guest.

“Were your crops successful this season, sir?” the Conqueror asked.

“Indeed they were, your Majesty,” Agrippa answered and nervously played with his fingers.

“I heard these parts have excellent hunting grounds. Do you hunt?”

“I am a poor hunter, your Majesty,” he replied and wiped the sweat from the palms of his hands onto his trousers.

“You must learn to master your bow and arrows, and the mind and nature of your prey. These are not dumb animals. Nature provided them with extraordinary senses pivotal to their survival. You must observe and learn their behavior and outsmart them.”

“Thank you, your Majesty.”

Back in the cluttered kitchen, supper was almost ready, still simmering over the stove.

“Do you remember when we were young… Father had taken us to see the enthroning of the Destroyer of Nations. I remember that during the ride back home to Potidaea you couldn’t stop talking about how strong the Conqueror looked, and how handsome and how authoritative… It was as if you were infatuated with our Ruler so much so that father lost his temper and shouted at you to hold your tongue,” Lila reflected back to different times when they were both still innocent, and the irony didn’t elude her.

“Did I really say those things?!” All Gabrielle remembered from that day had been how the Conqueror looked and the uncompromising strength. She couldn’t recall giving voice to her thoughts or exhibiting admiration, least of all to her father.

Lila nodded her head then added sullenly, “Look at you now… about to marry the one who has made less than a whore of you. How can you marry the Conqueror after everything she must have taken from you in your service?”

“My Lord took what was her right to take,” Lady Gabrielle said with utmost conviction, “As for what is shared between my Lord and me, I cannot nor do I care to explain.”

“Did you ever stop to contemplate why? Why on earth would the Conqueror marry you? What does she want with you? What does the Conqueror need from you that is not already hers? Why you of all women?” though the older sister’s words were uttered avidly, she whispered them so that they wouldn’t reach any further beyond the kitchen.

Of course rumors regarding the Conqueror’s great issue of her succession had reached Gabrielle since that night, and there was also the political issue, but why her specifically? She had no explanation to offer neither her sister nor herself. There were no reasonable or even remotely plausible answers to these questions.

“Do not be troubled for me. Know only that I am happy. I ask you to come and rejoice at our wedding,” said Gabrielle as she took a bowl and filled it with the aromatic stew along with a goblet of wine.

“Of course I will, Gabrielle,” Lila said just before the Lady opened the kitchen door to serve her Lord with supper.

“Your Majesty is welcome to stay the night in her servants’ humble abode,” Lila said when she immerged from the kitchen after her sister.

“I appreciate your hospitality, dear lady. I have brought a gift for you and your family,” the Conqueror said and handed Lila a pouch with a substantial amount of gold coins.

“Thank you, most gracious Majesty,” replied Lila, who had never seen such treasure her entire life.

“I bid you to attend our wedding and reside at the palace afterwards, if it pleases my Lady Gabrielle.”

“Thank you, my benevolent Lord,” Gabrielle responded bright with joy and seated herself next to the Conqueror.
Part 14
It was five days before the wedding and the palace was yet again vibrant with commotion. As the Conqueror and Lady Gabrielle were about to vacate the Conqueror’s chambers, the latter turned to her Lord and asked with a charming smile, ” Will my Lord not grant me another kiss before we embark on the day ahead?”

The Conqueror gathered the smaller woman into her arms, leaned down and captured Gabrielle’s lips with her own.

After the kiss had ended, not for lack of want on both parties, the Conqueror led Lady Gabrielle to a suite, still under construction, next to her own chambers.

“These will be your chambers, where you will be receiving those who wish an audience with you. Should you have any preferences regarding style and structure, you may convey your wishes to the builders,” the Conqueror said.

“Thank you, my Lord,” the Lady replied as she entered the suite and wandered around the various chambers with mesmerized eyes, till she came upon a private bedchamber with a large bed already made with mauve satin linens.

“Will my Lord not share a bed with me?” she asked with a pinch of disappointment.

“Your bedchamber is for your own convenience to either use or not. Mind you, I have every intention of enjoying my conjugal rights and yours as frequently and as zealously as possible,” the Conqueror chuckled and was pleased to hear Lady Gabrielle’s diminutive sigh of relief. “My bed is our bed.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” Lady Gabrielle hid a smile.

“You must also choose your ladies in waiting who are to attend you after the coronation.”

“May I ask my Lord for a favor?” Gabrielle asked.

“What is it?”

“My Lord’s chambermaid, Satrina,” the Lady hesitated.

“What about her?”

“She’s my Lord’s slave, is she not?”

“She is.”

“She has been kind to me over the years, and I wish to repay her with kindness. I would be grateful if my Lord freed her and allowed her to work as my lady in waiting with all the benefits such position entails, should she agree,” Lady Gabrielle replied.

“Granted,” the Conqueror said then looked around inspecting the crew’s advancement. “This is going to be the greatest wedding the world has ever seen, with a grand feast and rivers of wine, jesters, bards and music and dance.”

“I don’t know how to dance, my Lord,” whispered the Lady discomfited and halted her exploration of her new chambers.

“I have already arranged for an instructor to tutor you,” the Conqueror said. “Is there anything else, my Lady?”

“No, thank you, my Lord,” the future Queen smiled and watched as the Conqueror turned and left to continue about her day.

***

A night before the wedding the Conqueror and the Lady entered their bedroom and settled in for a night’s sleep.

“How are your nerves, my Lady?” the Conqueror asked before she blew out the fire burning at the candlestick standing on top of the nightstand.

“Calm, my Lord,” Lady Gabrielle replied quickly before she even had time to process the question she’d been asked.

“Get some rest. A grand day awaits you tomorrow,” the Conqueror whispered before she closed her eyes.

As Lady Gabrielle was lying in the dark, feeling the Conqueror spooning her body and her sturdy arm draped over her waist and thigh, sleep eluded her and so she took stock of recent events in her life. Ever since Persia everything happened so fast. Such major events had taken place, that it felt like she had been sitting atop a loaded wagon hurdling down a steep slope with nothing to stop it.

She was about to become the Conqueror’s wife tomorrow, and though she was ecstatic to be bonded in such way to her Lord, she could not ignore some murky phantoms lurking about the recesses of her mind. Since the unfortunate plight on the road back from Persia , the Conqueror seemed much more lenient with her and lavished her with a title and gifts, and facilitated a meeting with her sister, and still something laid heavy on her soul. As if to sooth her heart, she closed her eyes and reflected back on the words spoken to her by Princess Lao-Ling about the Conqueror bearing her great affection, and she found great solace in them.

***

On the morning of the wedding, Lady Gabrielle found herself standing atop a small platform in her own new chambers with her ladies in waiting dressing her with the most beautiful white wedding gown. Little diamonds adorned the gown, sown with silver gold threads into the rich thick fabric, which sparkled like stars in the night’s sky with each of her tiniest movements. The breathtaking dress complimented the Lady’s curvaceous figure, and elicited cries of appreciation from the ladies fussing around her.

While the Lady examined her reflection in the mirror, a knock on the door brought her out of her deep thoughts concerning how she barely recognized herself, yet how pleased she was with her appearance and how she hoped her Lord would be pleased as well.

“Come in,” she said and the door was opened.

One of the Conqueror’s servants currying a wooden chest entered her chambers and presented her with it.

“A gift to you from the Lord Conqueror,” he said, bowing his head before her and opening the lid, exposing an elaborate silver gold necklace incrusted with diamonds and emeralds. The jewels were clear with dark yet vibrant color and exhibited a star pattern with ray-like spokes of dark carbon. Also inside the chest nestled a matching bracelet, earrings and a headpiece, all arrayed on a velvet pillow.

The ladies in waiting all gathered around the exquisite jewelries, emitting cries of awe and wonder.

The servant laid the chest down on a nearby table and said, “The Conqueror wishes to convey a message to you, my Lady, that the color of your eyes is more beautiful and more precious than these stones.”

“Tell my Lord that the gesture has moved me beyond words and has touched my heart deeply,” Lady Gabrielle said and governed her voice and expression to be conservative and moderated in front of her ladies.
He bowed before her and left.

It was at that moment exactly, Gabrielle would later realize, that her nerves began to torture her.

Once all preparations were concluded, the Lady was escorted to the palace’s gates, where a chariot had been waiting to carry her to the Imperial seaport. She was helped onto a grand ship by one of the Imperial sailors and was brought up to the upper deck to where her Lord had been waiting for her.

She walked with cautious steps, trying to adjust herself to the rocky, unsteady ground beneath her small feet. She then saw the Conqueror standing on deck near the railing with the salty air playing with her dark mane, wearing white regal attire. A golden armor covered her chest, adorned by a relief of a lion’s head; a golden ceremonial sword rested against her left thigh; and atop her brow rested a golden crown embedded with fine stones shimmering brightly in the morning sun.

“My Lady, you look magnificent,” said the Conqueror and took the Lady’s hands in hers.

“My Lord is very handsome,” said Gabrielle and enjoyed the warmth of her Lord’s hands, shielding hers from the morning chill at sea. “Where are we sailing to, my Lord?”

“Around Corinth , ” replied the Conqueror. “I want to show you off to my subjects, and let them feast their eyes on the most beautiful woman in the world.”

As they set sail closely around Corinth’ shoreline, Gabrielle watched the commoners standing on shore bowing before them and then waving and clapping their hands with merriment, and it was the first time she felt the weight of her new status.

When they eventually stood before the High Priest of the Realm, Gabrielle felt as though she was but a spectator to the events that were in fact happening to her. Many thoughts streamed within her, but she could neither intercept nor process any of them. She could barely follow the words being spoken by the High Priest. She vaguely heard him say sentences such as “ May the Gods bless your union” and “Eternal unbreakable bond.” She heard herself vow to honor and worship the Lord Conqueror with her body and her soul, but it was the Conqueror’s voice repeating the exact same vows that snapped her out of the current state of haze she was in.

Then a servant served the Conqueror with a silver platter on top of which laid a golden crown, encrusted with some of the best stones and its engravings were nothing short of superb craftsmanship. The Conqueror took the crown in both hands, turned to face her wife and declared: “I, Xena of Amphipolis, Conqueror of the Realm, hereby solemnly crown you, Gabrielle of Potidaea, daughter of Herodotus and Hecuba, as Queen of the Realm,” and gently put the crown on top of Gabrielle’s head.

The Queen immediately felt the heavy, burdening weight of the crown upon her.

The Conqueror leaned down and placed a lingering gentle kiss on the Queen’s lips.

As they walked together down the aisle, the Conqueror’s arm stretched out and her hand resting on top of her Lord’s forearm, Queen Gabrielle saw the noblemen’ and highest ranking officer’s and their wives’ expressions, some of which seemed disapproving and condescending. She felt the urge to cling more firmly to her Lord but she knew it would be perceived as a sign of weakness, so she wore the mask her Lord had forced her to wear throughout her years of service.

Nearing their table, which stood at the head of the Great Hall before their thrones, Gabrielle felt the contact with her Lord’s forearm had loosened. It took her a few fractions of a moment to realize where her Lord was.

The Conqueror had seen an untied shoelace on her Queen’s left shoe, and so she kneeled down on one knee before the Queen, to the utter shock of her subjects, and tied up the shoelace. Upon seeing the Conqueror kneeling at her Queen’s feet, all noblemen, ladies, highest ranking officers and other distinguished guests from all around the Realm, all present at the Great Hall, stilled all motion and pacified all chatter and with gaping eyes and dropped jaws bowed before their new Queen.

The Conqueror’s public display of reverence towards her spoke volumes with the Queen, and had she been alone, she would have wept.

When they sat at their table, the Queen sensed all eyes were looking at her, scrutinizing her every gesture, so much so that she hardly sampled any of the cuisines that had been placed before her. She wasn’t used to so much attention. Usually, she could move around within the palace’s grounds scarcely noticeable by others. The only other time she was the center of everyone’s attention had been when she had taken the stand in court all those years ago.

“How are you managing, my Lady?” Her Lord whispered discretely into her Queen’s ear.

“Quite well thank you, my Lord, for your kind inquiry,” the young Queen replied while she saw her sister, Lila and her family approaching the thrones.

“Congratulations, your Majesties,” Lila curtsied.

“Thank you, dear Lila,” Queen Gabrielle was so happy to see a familiar friendly face amongst the crowd.

“Who could have conceived it… My younger sister… my dear little sister… Queen of the Realm,” Lila sighed.

“I am so very happy that you came to celebrate with us,” Gabrielle replied.

“Indeed we are thankful to you and your family, dear Lila,” said the Conqueror. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I should like to dance with my Queen.” the Conqueror turned to Gabrielle. “Would you care to dance with me, my Lady?”

“With all my heart, my Lord,” answered Gabrielle.

The Conqueror and the Queen stepped down from their thrones and walked to stand opposite each other at the center of the Great Hall.

The head musician nodded his head to give the cue to his fellow musician and they began to play.

“My Lady,” the Conqueror bowed before the Queen with joyous eyes as a prelude to their dance.

“My Lord,” the Lady curtsied deeply.

The Royal couple danced together in perfect unison like a monolithic entity and the crowed that gathered around them clapped in honor to them, keeping within the rhythm of the music.

In a far corner of the Great Hall, nobleman Marton and Nobleman Verosus were sitting together drinking ale and watching the Conqueror dancing with their new Queen.

“Forcing us to bow before a whoring slave…” spat nobleman Verosus. “And just think how much richer the two of us could have been had the Conqueror chosen Princess Lao-Ling…”

“Indeed,” agreed nobleman Marton.
“We must find a way to get rid of that peasant cunt,” hissed nobleman Verosus and absentmindedly placed his hand over his sword.

“That is treason punishable by death,” nobleman Marton warned his fellow nobleman. “And if you value your head and the heads of your wife and children, you might consider a much safer, subtler way to go about it.”

“Such as…”

“Dangling fresh meat before the lion’s eyes when he’s most hungry,” nobleman Morton replied. “And I have just the right piece of meat in mind already.”

“And if that fails?”

“It won’t, but if it does, we must find another way to make the slave fall from the Conqueror’s graces.”
When the dance ended, Cyrene and the Conqueror’s brother Toris, accompanied by his wife, were next to offer heartfelt blessings. The Conqueror introduced her Queen to her brother, while the Queen studied the man before her, who was almost as tall as her Lord, with dark hair and blue eyes.

Cyrene , who was absolutely radiant with happiness, whisked her new daughter-in-law away from the Conqueror for a private exchange of words, leaving the Conqueror and her brother to their own private conversation.

“Your Majesty, thank you for making an old woman happy,” Cyrene placed two kisses on each of the Queen’s cheeks.

“You needn’t thank me,” Gabrielle embraced the older woman.

“But I do. I know the Conqueror, and I can only imagine the price you must pay for your affinity towards her. I am forever in you debt,” ardently spoke the elderly woman and shook both the Queen’s hands in hers.

Princess Lao-Ling was next to congratulate the new Queen.

On the other side of the Great Hall, the Conqueror was engaged in a conversation with her brother.

“I was sorry to hear about your child being lost at birth,” the Conqueror offered her sincere condolences.

“It pains my wife and me that we have yet been able to birth children. After the last miscarriage, the healer informed us that my wife had been left barren. The grim news devastated us.”

“That is most unfortunate, brother. In regards to the subject of children, I will further discuss the matter with you in due time.”

When the wedding feast was over, the Conqueror and the Queen were escorted to their wedding bed by a procession of musicians, and children, who were spreading rose-petals in their wake, a few of the highest ranking noblemen and their wives and members of their families.

“We won’t be needing an audience for our consummation,” the Conqueror stated as they reached the Imperial chambers.

Alone in the Imperial bedchamber, in which hundreds of red and white roses were scattered all over, the Conqueror and the Queen stood toe to toe. The Conqueror looked at her wife while her fingers moved skillfully to undress her.

“Was the wedding to your satisfaction?” the Conqueror asked.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding and I thank you my gracious Lord with every fiber of my being,” the Queen replied with luminous eyes, while her body began to respond to her Lord’s skimming fingers against her skin.
“Tell me, My Queen, how would you like your pleasure tonight?” the Conqueror asked and began to disrobe.

“My Lord?”

“Over the years I have taken you any way imaginable that suited my pleasure. On this, your wedding night, my Lady, have you any specific desires I might fulfill?” the Conqueror spoke softly.

“As surely my Lord already knows…my Lord’s pleasure is my pleasure,” the Queen answered.

“So is there nothing…?”

The Conqueror assiduously examined the Queen’s countenance, which suggested to her that there might be something after all. “So there is something…” she almost coerced her Queen to surrender her answer.

“Forgive me, my Lord, but it might not suit your predilections or station.”

“Now you have really aroused my curiosity,” the Conqueror’s fingers glided down the valley between her bride’s twin mounds.

“Well… some nights, when I wasn’t summoned to my Lord’s bed, I would lie in mine and I would have these fevering images…” An irrepressible blush colored her pale cheeks and she had half a mind to arrest her secret.

“What? Let us have it.”

The Queen took a deep breath and gathered her resolve, “I would imagine my Lord kissing me between my thighs, and I would get so wet and aching…” The last couple of words were barely audible.

“Did you ever touch yourself when you were having these images?” the Conqueror pressed her body against her wife’s and stroked her neck seductively, letting her know the truth was welcomed.

As the Queen looked into her Lord’s eyes, she thought she had never seen such playful wicked glee in them before.

“I’ve never touched what is yours, my Lord,” she replied.

The Conqueror thought she had never heard a more perfect answer being rendered.

The Conqueror’s first kiss adored the Queen’s forehead, making her heart melt. The second and the third passionate kisses caressed the Queen’s eyelids. The fourth kiss traveled from the soft spot behind the Queen’s ear down her throat, eliciting a sharp intake of breath when the tender flesh was being sucked into the Conqueror’s warm mouth.

The Queen heard her Lord sizzling whisper vibrating against her skin, “Tonight I will be servicing you, my Lady.”

When the Conqueror’s fifth kiss found her lips, Gabrielle failed to register the loss of contact between her bare feet and the ground. Gabrielle opened her mouth and greeted her Lord’s tongue hungrily seeking after hers.

The Conqueror gently deposited her wife and Queen on top of the bed and shifted herself to lie completely on top of her. The contrast between soft and hard, between custodial and amenable made both Lord and Lady inflamed with unequivocal desire.

The Conqueror’s mouth left the Queen’s and continued further down her body until they reached an engorged nipple and the Conqueror eagerly started suckling it while she softly pinched the other one between her thumb and forefinger. Gabrielle’s nipples instantly hardened, shooting raging surges of fire to her sex.

The Conqueror moved her mouth to cover the other breast, sucking it and grazing its erect tip with her teeth, making the smaller woman beneath her lost in her mounting need.

A large warm hand slithered down between the Queen’s thighs, coaxing her to spread them further and Gabrielle did. The hot moist tongue that lavished her nipples traveled further down and dipped into her naval.

Gabrielle’s breath became shallow and fast with anticipation. It was as if row flame was licking her everywhere. In her heart was one wish: that the Conqueror would make good on her unspoken promise and reach the place she needed her most with her tongue.

At first the Queen felt her Lord’s searing breath against the wetness between legs.

The Conqueror hovered over Gabrielle’s soaking opening, inhaled her scent for her own pleasure and exhaled warm breath to prolong her Queen’s want.

“Please, my Lord,” the Conqueror’s bride begged.

When she felt her Lord’s tongue moving against the wet folds of her womanhood, a cry like no other escaped Gabrielle’s throat, a cry that spoke of profound yearnings. She dug her heels into the bed and arched her back, desperate for a firmer contact with her Lord’s tongue.

The Conqueror continued to tease the Queen’s slit and hard nub, moving her tongue slowly, never staying enough time on the spot where Gabrielle needed her most. Then the Conqueror thrust her tongue inside of her wife’s sex and lapped at the flux of nectar that greeted her.

The young Queen’s hips were rocking unabatedly against her Lord’s face, feeling immense pressure building inside of her, demanding an outlet. She felt her Lord cupping her buttocks beneath her while reaching inside of her with her tongue as deep as she could.

The Conqueror was rapidly bringing Gabrielle to the edge, but the moment she felt Gabrielle’s inner tunnel start to contract around her, she abruptly withdrew, leaving her wife aching with disappointment.

The Conqueror slipped two long fingers into Gabrielle’s sopping core, then hardened and flattened her tongue against the pulsating bundle of nerves, licking it hard and giving the much needed contact. When she looked up to see the Queen’s face, she saw the young woman, blushed and sweating, kneading her own breasts almost violently and squeezing and pulling at her nipples. The erotic sight of her young Queen pleasuring her own breasts sent the Conqueror’s desire soaring higher and made her blood boil in her veins.

Gabrielle’s hips flew from the bed and she cried out as she was brought over and intense release flooded through her and tears trickled down the side of her face and onto the sheets beneath her.

Before she had time to recover, Gabrielle felt a large hand grabbing her by the side of her hips and roughly turning her over to lie on her belly. Next she felt teeth sinking into the plump flesh of her backside, then being clasped tightly by her ankles and being crudely dragged down in the direction of the foot of the bed, where her Lord had been.

The raw sensitive flesh of her centre was skewered by her Lords shaft, followed by deep urgent thrusts in and out of her. She felt her Lord’s powerful loins pounding against her body and she heard her Lord’s grunts and labored breath coming from above her.

The Conqueror’s release came quickly and when it was over the Conqueror’s body crashed down onto Gabrielle’s, and when she rested her cheek over Gabrielle’s she felt wetness against her skin and she sobered. It dawned on her that her wife had been sobbing.

The Conqueror immediately retreated, got off the Queen and sat besides her, prompting the smaller woman to turn and lie prone and look at her.

“It was my intention to pace myself and be tender and gentle for your pleasure on your wedding night, but my passion for you was too great for me to restrain. I didn’t mean to cause you pain,” her Lord said and collected one of her bride’s tears with her finger.

Gabrielle was swollen with pride when she learned that she had made the Conqueror lose her legendary control over her desires.

“The tears are tears of joy, and I was glad to receive my Lord. Though I cherish and adore my Lord’s gentleness, I also cherish my Lord’s darkness and I crave my Lord’s power and ownership over me always,” a wide smile spread over Gabrielle’s lips. She turned to the nightstand next to her side of the Imperial bed and took out her leather collar with the Conqueror’s crest, which she had been wearing around her neck for years. She lifted her right leg up in the air and fastened the collar around her thigh like a garter.

“I will constantly wear it around this intimate place on my anatomy only my Lord is privy to, just as I have worn it around my neck. In these chambers, in this bed, I am also my Lord’s ever willingly obedient, ever willingly submissive, ever willingly compliant servant.”

The Conqueror fondly ran her palm over the collared thigh, deeply touched by the former body slave’s meek and voluntary gesture. “I am pleased,” she whispered in her Queen’s ear, then unbuckled the harness and removed it from her pelvis. She laid her body next to Gabrielle and enveloped her in her arms. ” I never thought tasting your distilled liquid lust would make me so hard and wanting. Had I known, I wouldn’t have denied us this pleasure.”

Delighted in her Lord’s words, the Queen replied, “I like being the object and the inciter of my Lord’s desires,” and as she turned in her Lord’s arms she went on to say, “My wedding night is not over yet, and if it pleases you, my charitable Lord, might you consider some form of compensation.”
Part 15
“Your Majesty, Sir Perous is asking for an audience with you,” the Queen’s lady in waiting Satirna announced.

“I will see him,” Queen Gabrielle proclaimed.

The doors to her chambers were opened and Perous entered and bowed before.

“Your Majesty.”

“How is your son, sir?” the Queen inquired.

“He is doing very well, Majesty. Pardon my belated expression of gratitude, but I wish to seize this opportunity and thank your Majesty now for saving my son’s life,” he said.

“You are welcome, and I’m pleased to learn that he is doing well, sir.”

“As your Majesty must know, I have fallen out of the Lord Conqueror’s good graces, and I was hoping your Majesty could assist me in this matter, and appeal to the Lord Conqueror on my behalf,” he requested .

“May I ask, sir, what was the cause for the dispute between my Lord and yourself?”

“Majesty, it was nothing more than a trifle political matter,” he answered with no hesitation. “May I add, that I would be most grateful to your Majesty and in return for your Majesty’s benevolence, I would help to bridge the gap between your Majesty and the Realm’s nobility and offer my good and honest advice.”

“I will consider your request, sir, and will inform you of my decision in due time,” Queen Gabrielle stated before he bowed before her and left her presence.

After the doors were closed behind him, the Queen turned to one of her ladies in waiting. “Have the ambassador of Chin, Sing-Xian, brought to me,” she requested.

A short while later, an old bearded oriental man entered the Queen’s chambers and bowed before her.

“Your Majesty,” he offered with respect.

“Your Excellency,” the Queen replied in kind, rising to her feet to shake his hand. “How is your dear Mistress?” she asked.

“Her Majesty Princess Lao-Ling is doing exceedingly well, and wishes to convey her deepest regards to your Majesty,” his words were heartfelt.

“Please tell the Princess I wish my dear sister good health and all the happiness in the world,” the Queen returned the sentiments with true heart and went back to her seat. She invited the ambassador to sit as well, then signaled one of her ladies to pour a steaming cup of tea for her guest.

“How may I assist your Majesty?” the elderly ambassador asked.

“What are your thoughts regarding Nobleman Perous?” the Queen inquired.

“May I ask the reason for your Majesty’s inquiry?”

“He appeared before me a short while ago asking me to plea with the Lord Conqueror on his behalf,” she raised her cup and brought it to her lips.

“And you sought my advice. That tells me that you have reasons to suspect his motives,” the wise ambassador said and brushed his fingers through his long whitening beard.

“Nothing substantial, Excellency. I didn’t care for the way he presented his matter. He began by thank me for saving his son’s life about seven winters ago. I thought it to be of poor character that he didn’t find it elementary to thank me for it when I was a servant. I also didn’t like it when immediately after he had presented his request he informed me of what he could offer me in return,” the Queen replied and laid down her cup onto the small table to her side.

“You were wise to consult me, your Majesty, and wise to suspect him,” the ambassador nodded his head then leaned back into his upholstered seat.

“It was the priceless advise your great Mistress had given me before my marriage to my Lord, for which I am most grateful.”

“I shall tell her your Majesty said so. Princess Lao-Ling would be pleased, I’m sure.”
“Did Nobleman Perous tell you the reason for his fall from the Conqueror’s graces?” he continued.

“He was less than forthcoming in this regard as well,” the Queen recalled.

“I am sorry to tell you, Majesty, that the Lord Conqueror stripped him of his station and wealth because of the stand he took regarding your marriage to the Conqueror.”

The Queen raised an eyebrow in surprise.

The ambassador continued, “After Princess Lao-Ling had suggested a marriage between herself and the Lord Conqueror, a meeting was held in the Great Hall. The noblemen of the Realm urged and pleaded with the Conqueror to marry my Mistress, but the Conqueror refused. My informant told me that Nobleman Perous had expressed his stance regarding your Majesty.”

The Queen didn’t expect this answer. To be sure, she didn’t think that the Conqueror had stripped Perous of his station merely for some insignificant incident that might have taken place between them, but rather something more substantial than that, but she couldn’t believe it had anything to do with her, nor could she believe that the Conqueror would punish someone so severely simply for having a disagreeable opinion of her.

“What did Nobleman Perous say?” the Queen inquired.

“I don’t wish to cause your Majesty any unpleasantness,” he tried to spare the Queen from Perous’ humiliating words.

“I need to know, Excellency.”

“Please forgive me for what I am about to say, but he said that your Majesty would forever remain in his eyes as nothing more than a body slave of low breeding . The Lord Conqueror punished him right after that.”

That bit of information pleased the Queen. She so longed to further ask the ambassador about what else had taken place at that meeting, especially what her Lord had said and done, but she held her tongue. Matters between the Conqueror and her were private; moreover, she did not wish to put the ambassador in an uncomfortable position. “I don’t understand his logic. What possessed Nobleman Perous to approach me of all people and ask for my help with my Lord?”

“He was operating under the assumption that none of the noblemen who attended the meeting would reveal this information to you, and that the Lord Conqueror wouldn’t either so as to spare your Majesty’s feelings. He surmised that when you’d have spoken to the Conqueror on his behalf, the Conqueror would assume you had forgiven him without raising the specifics of his previous slight against you.”

“May I ask how you know what has taken place during that meeting?”

“With respect, I would prefer to keep the identity of my informant unknown. It is for the best, your Majesty.”

“Of course, Excellency.”

“Majesty, I should tell you that Nobleman Perous has a second plan already in progress should going through you fails. I have it on good authority that he is currently trying to raise a fortune and an army, not too successfully, I might add.”

“This is disturbing,” the Queen said. She abhorred the notion that her Lord might be taken away from her by yet another war.

“Thank you very much, Excellency. You have been a great help to me,” the Queen said. “Be sure to extend my gratitude to my sister, Princess Lao-Ling.”

“I will,” he promised and stood to bow before the Queen of the Realm. “Your Majesty,” he said before leaving her chambers.

Meanwhile, in the Great Hall, the Conqueror was sitting on her throne and was engaged in a meeting with her council of noblemen.

“Is there anything else, noblemen?” the Conqueror hoped there wouldn’t be, for she longed to return to her Queen.

“I am sorry to present your Majesty with this matter yet again,” said nobleman Antonious.

“What is it?” the Conqueror was intolerant.

“It has been three moons since your Majesty’s marriage to Queen Gabrielle and we have yet to hear any news regarding your Majesty’s succession.”

The Conqueror maintained her stoic exterior but inwardly she could feel her wrath brewing. “You will hear news on this matter when I’ll have news to relay,” the Conqueror said and she made her way to vacate the Great Hall and passed by the bowing noblemen.

As she made her way to the Queen’s chambers, the Conqueror revisited the subject of children, which had been occupying her thoughts for quite some time. There was no way around it, it seemed. She understood the issue of her succession was crucial for the maintaining of peace in the Realm. The Conqueror was aware of the noblemen’s agenda. They needed an assurance that a powerful Sovereign would continue to rule the Realm should the Conqueror, for some reason such as death or illness, would be indisposed or absent. And what better ruler than the one she’d breed and train?

The Conqueror had yet to present the Queen with the matter for she hasn’t made up her mind regarding the best strategy to go about it. She considered her brother Toris to be the most excellent candidate to impregnate the Queen, but the thought of having someone else touching the Queen that way would flood her with unsurpassed fury and jealously.

“The Lord Conqueror,” one of the Queen’s lady in waiting announced as the Conqueror entered the Queen’s chambers.

“Your Majesty,” the ladies murmured and curtsied.

“My Lady,” the Conqueror addressed the Queen and bowed.

“My Lord,” the Queen greeted and curtsied. The fact that the Queen’s curtsy was the deepest, the lowest and the most meticulous of all the other ladies’ curtsies was not lost on the Conqueror.

“You may leave us,” the Queen said to her ladies.

When they were left alone, the Conqueror offered her arm to the Queen, which the latter gladly took and they sauntered together back to the Imperial suite.

“It seems you’ve had a long day, my Lady,” the Conqueror said with a caressing voice.

“So have you, my Lord,” the Queen replied. “And if I may…”

“You may,” said the Conqueror, opening the doors to the Imperial chambers and guiding her Queen inside.

“I don’t wish to trouble my Lord, but since our glorious wedding we’ve hardly had time…”

“A respite away from the palace is needed,” the Conqueror suggested with a questioning tone and glided her fingers over the Queen’s golden hair she adored immensely.

“Yes, if it does not inconvenience you, my Lord,” the Queen answered.

“I agree and it does not inconvenience me. I know a charming little lake between the palace and Athens , about a candle-mark’ ride away. I shall take you there tomorrow morning. How do you like fishing, my Lady?”

“I don’t know, my Lord, I’ve never had the pleasure,” Gabrielle chuckled in bright spirit courtesy of the Conqueror’s promise for some time alone.

“Then I shall teach you, my Lady. We shall leave tomorrow at daybreak on horseback, just you and I, dressed as commoners with none of the symbols of our station so that we won’t be bothered on the road.”

“May we visit Athens ? I’ve never been there and I wish to see its markets and its streets.”

“I will do you one better. We shall spend the night in one of the fanciest taverns,” the Conqueror cherished the look of joy on the Queen’s face.

“Thank you, my Lord,” said the Queen as she readied herself for bed, brushing her golden hair stroke after stroke. She then turned to the Conqueror, who was already reclining in their bed.

“Perous came to see me today, my Lord,” the Queen said and hoped the subject wouldn’t ruin their evening or their little trip tomorrow.

The Conqueror shot up to a sitting position and watched the Queen while she lavished her skin with scented oils.

“What did he want?” the Conqueror asked.

Never neglecting her feminine pampering ceremony to her figure, the Queen told her Lord about the conversations she had had with Perous and with the ambassador Sing-Xian in great detail. When she was done, the Conqueror invited her to join her in bed.

“How much of what happened in that meeting I held with the council of noblemen before our wedding do you know?” the Conqueror asked.

“Just what Perous said and the punishment you’ve sanctioned, my Lord. I did not inquire any further,” the young Queen answered and climbed into bed.

“I was already aware of the fact that Perous is trying to assemble a group of warriors, and I suspect he might not be acting alone. He was never much of a leader or a statesman. The only reason I gave him his position to begin with was his administrative talents.”

“What would you have me tell him, my Lord?” the Queen asked and rested her head on the cool pillow.

“When we come back, tell him you’ll appeal to me in his behalf. That ought to afford me enough time to look into the matter more closely.”

“I shall, my Lord.” The Queen seemed concerned for a brief moment but when she pensively gazed at her Lord, whose upper body was propped up against the pillows, she sensed there was no cause for alarm.

“You’ve managed the situation admirably well, my Lady,” the Conqueror said and the Queen in response lowered her gaze with gratitude for her Lord’s kind compliment.

***

At first light, when the sky was still bluish grey, the night’s chill was still present and a fine layer of dew burdened the thicket of growth. The Conqueror and the Queen, disguised as commoners, crossed the palace’s gates on horseback.

As they were passing by a small village on the way to the lake, the Conqueror and the Queen saw a small girl pointing at them and pulling at her mother’s apron.

“Look mother, it’s the Conqueror and the Queen,” she exclaimed and knelt before them as they were passing her by.

The young girl’s mother pulled her up to her feet by her blouse and admonished her, ” Silly girl, the Lord Conqueror is taller and the Queen is prettier!”

A healthy laughter was released from the Conqueror and infected the Queen. “Did you hear that, Gabrielle? The Queen is prettier than you,” the Conqueror teased.

“I have missed my name upon my Lord’s lips, and my Lord’s lips upon mine,” the Queen replied earnestly .

The words she had spoken earned her a passionate kiss.

When they arrived at the lake, which was well hidden by a small forest off the main road, the Conqueror dismounted her mare and helped her Queen down. She then took out the fishing gear from the saddlebag and a basket packed with some provisions and a blanket.

The Queen took the basket and the blanket from the Conqueror, then spread the blanket on the ground under and prepared the site she had picked for a picnic, while the Conqueror started a small bonfire.

When everything was ready, the Conqueror and the Queen sat at the edge of the lake’s bank and the former taught the latter how to fish, and disclosed all her best secrets for a successful fishing.

“It helps me clear my mind,” the Conqueror divulged a personal detail to her wife.

“I can see the appeal, my Lord. It is so peaceful and quiet in here and the water and the small ripples have a soothing quality to them,” the Queen concurred and looked around.

“Indeed. We must do this more often,” the Conqueror said and threw the hook with the fresh bait back into the water.

“It would be my pleasure, my Lord.”

The royal couple enjoyed the morning in each other’s company, fishing privately without the weight of their statuses, without interruptions. The Queen even managed to catch a fish to her delight and sense of pride and the Conqueror helped her reel it in.

The Queen cooked their catch of the day in a frying-pan over the fire, and when they finished dining, they lay next to one another over the blanket Gabrielle had spread and listened to the sounds of nature around them, and the sun’s warmth invading through the treetops.

The Queen couldn’t remember when she had drifted off into light slumber, but the cutting sound of a whiplash startled her and her eyes flung open. She moved quickly to a sitting position. That’s when she saw it. In front of her not ten feet away, a beast was glaring at her with its canines exposed. It growled at her.

“Don’t move,” the Queen heard her Lord’s low and warning voice and at the corner of her eye, she saw the Conqueror standing still with her whip in her hand and two beasts standing close to her glaring at her perfectly still.

“These are wolves,” the Conqueror said.

“My Lord is a lion,” the Queen replied.
The Conqueror understood the true and full meaning of her wife’s words. “They recognize me as the Alpha. They will attack me first,” she said to calm her Queen, but the Queen was calm already, feeling safe and sound in her Lord’s presence.

The Conqueror reached down slowly for the dagger tucked in her boot, keeping her glare fixated on the wolves, flexing her muscles and expanding her chest to make herself seem even bigger. She gripped the dagger’s hilt in her hand and pulled it out, when both wolves pounced on her. In mid air she slit one of the wolves’ throat and it plummeted dead to the ground. Its warm blood spattered over her, but the other one knocked her to the ground. She straggled with it, clasping its jaw shut with one hand and beating its side with her other fist whilst the beast tried clawing at her, until its lung collapsed and it wheezed and died as well. The Conqueror pushed its carcass off of her and rose back to her feet to face the third one guarding her Queen.

The Conqueror picked up the whip she had discarded earlier when the other two wolves had made their move on her. The remaining wolf walked slowly towards her. They held each other’s glares. It tried to circle her but the Conqueror moved as well, never breaking her eye contact with her prey.

When the wolf finally pounced, the Conqueror swiftly moved behind it while wrapping her leather whip around the beast’s neck. She howled a war cry then pulled hard on both ends of the whip, strangling the animal forcing it upwards to stand on its two rear legs.

The Queen watched her Lord with fascination, observing the tight muscles of her biceps bulging and the chiseled thighs from beneath the leather trousers.

The Conqueror held the wolf like this till she felt its life leaving it and its massive body stopping its straggling movements then going limp. Only then did she release it and let the cadaver fall to the ground.

The Conqueror wiped the wolf’s blood off her chin with the back of her hand still holding the whip, and her eyes were predatory as she looked at her Queen.

Gabrielle scurried on all fours to the Conqueror raising a small cloud of dust from the quickness of her movements, and when at her Lord’s feet she turned around and lifted up her backside like a feline in heat. She pushed up her dress and her hastened hands struggled with her undergarments.

“Rip them off,” she snarled with a voice her Lord had never heard her use.

The Conqueror dropped to her knees behind the Queen and tore her undergarments with her bare hands.

The Queen purred when she felt the delicate fabric being ripped against her heated skin, exposing her buttocks to the fresh air. “Mount me, my Lord!” she urged the Conqueror, who watched what was being offered so passionately to her.

As she undid her trousers and pulled out her shaft, the Conqueror said with a rasping voice, “Wolves hunt in packs. These were just three. We seemed to have encroached on their territory. Soon more would come. We best be on our way.”

“Not before you take me, my Lord,” Gabrielle moaned and pushed her buttocks higher, showing her Lord her glistening opening.

The Conqueror, still holding the whip, began to slide its leathered handle against Gabrielle’s wetness, moistening it, all the while wondering whether it was the danger or the sight of her killing the beasts to save their lives, which made her wife become so consumed with arousal. It was the latter.

She inserted the saturated whip handle into Gabrielle’s anus and heard a guttural moan coming from beneath her. She began moving it slowly in and out of her wife, enjoying the young woman moving back and forth against her whip.

The Conqueror sent her free hand to her wife’s sex and massaged the erect nub, feeling it getting harder and swollen against her fingers, and her own body began to demand pleasure. She left the whip handle inside her wife, almost making it look like she’d grown a tail, then possessively grabbed at her hips and introduced her length into the Queen’s womanhood, while sinking her teeth into the Queen’s nape.

They were like two animals mating in nature driven by primal needs and primitive instincts.

“I want you to bare me children,” the Conqueror rasped while mounting her wife.

“I’ve been ever comfortable to your will and pleasure,” the Queen moaned, not the least bit surprised or astounded by her Lord’s words. “ My body is yours,” she continued and unabashedly slammed her rear against her Lord’s loins, marveling at the sensation of the Conqueror’s naked chest pressing down against her back, “ and I will bare your children,” she said as she began to feel a shuddering climax hitting her sex like a lightning-bolt and curling her toes. From above her, she heard her Lord howling her release and she felt her Lord ejaculating her warm sex liquids all over her buttocks. Gabrielle loved the feeling of her Lord’s release fluids dripping down her ass and sex, and tickling her skin. She reached behind and smeared the scented fluids all over her fleshy globes.

As soon as they were able they made their way to Athens . Enjoying their anonymity, the Conqueror and the Queen were free to cruise Athens ‘ streets and markets freely. The Conqueror was pleased to see her Queen being so excited, like a young child with her first toy, about the sights she had seen and the richness and the variety presented by the vendors. Close to sunset, the Conqueror brought her Queen to a fancy tavern near the city’s center.

Sitting at a private table in the corner away from prying eyes they dined together, when the Queen suddenly felt her dress being moved under the table, then a warm large hand caressing its way upwards along her right thigh, dallying over the leather collar around it and pulling at it twice, then proceeding upwards to cover her sex. Other than a quick smile to inform her Lord that her advances were registered and welcomed, the Queen’s countenance remained unrevealing.

When she felt her Lord’s long frisky fingers playing with her protruding nub, the young Queen began to discretely ground herself against her Lord’s arousing touch and thanked the fates that her undergarments had been torn earlier that day, leaving her sex naked and accessible to her Lord beneath her dress.

Once inside the private chamber, which the Conqueror had rented for the night, the Queen, still exuberant by the day’s events and aroused beyond measure by her Lord’s merciless attention during supper, which left her aching with need, solicited the Conqueror into taking her again.

As soon as the Queen closed the door behind them, she turned to her Lord, moored her hand behind the towering Lord’s neck in order to pull her down for a fervent feral feed off her lips. With her back to the door, her wee hands unbuttoned the Conqueror’s trousers, and pulled out the Conqueror’s shaft. She guided its head into her sex whilst wrapping her leg around her Lord’s waist, then seduced her Lord to have carnal knowledge of her against the wall.

Whilst enthralled by the great pleasure of intercourse, the royal couple was entirely oblivious to the sounds of fierce gratification they were making, and the thumping sounds against the wooden wall.

It was the thunderous knock on their door that drew them out of their mutual ecstasy.

“This is a respectable establishment, not a brothel,” the innkeeper shouted from the other side of the door. “We’ve had complaints.”

“Don’t you know who I am, sir?” the Conqueror exclaimed while still moving deeply inside her wife. “I am the Lord Conqueror of the Realm,” she looked into the Queen’s eyes with mischief in hers.

“And I’m Queen of the Realm!” he retorted sarcastically then added, “Just keep it down!”

When they heard him furthering away from the door, the royal couple kept at it, trying their best not to disturb the neighboring guests until satisfaction was achieved.

As they lay in their bed, with the Conqueror fondly drawing lazy circles around Gabrielle’s right nipple, the subject of children rose between them again.

“Who would my Lord have deliver the seed?” the Queen asked.
“I am considering my brother, Toris, whom you’ve met at our wedding,” the Conqueror replied.

The Queen sensed her Lord’s body tighten and tense against hers and her mood becoming murky.

“The child would be of your blood and mine,” she tried to appease her Lord’s darkness, “It would have been my choice as well, my Lord,” she said.

The Queen looked into her Lord’s eyes and thought she saw some shade of sadness in them.

“It’s just the thought of having someone other than me…”

“I understand, my dear Lord.” She paused for a few moments then said, “If I may…”

“You may.”

“He needn’t touch me, my Lord. I wish to try a method of my own design, first. A tool I can create that might enable us to introduce my Lord’s brother’s seed into my womb without him ever…”

The Conqueror rose and lifted her weight to rest on her elbow, facing her Queen. “It would seem like you’ve already given it considerable thought,” she pointed out.

“Indeed I have, my Lord,” replied the Queen.

“How long?”

“Since my Lord’s generous and much appreciated marriage proposal,” the Queen answered.

“Do you think it could succeed?”

“It might,” the Queen smiled.

“If it does, than you would have given me the best present I could ever hope or wish for, for my birthday,” the Conqueror ran her fingers affectionately against her Queen’s cheek.

“Is it my Lord’s birthday today? I wish I had known beforehand, or I would have…”

The Conqueror placed a hushing finger over her Queen’s lips. “You have already pleased me to the highest degree, Gabrielle.”

The Queen thought it was one of the most beautiful sentences her Lord had ever said to her. “Let’s see… My Lord has conquered Greece at twenty – four, so much is well known… I entered my Lord’s service six winters later,” the Queen calculated in her head, “and seven more winters have passed since then, that would make my Lord thirty-seven winters old.”

“It is all well and true, only I conquered Greece at seventeen,” the Conqueror chuckled when she noticed bewilderment spreading rapidly all over her Queen’s face.

“Surely my Lord…”

“My age as it is known was a lie I initiated, enabled and allowed to flourish. Back then I believed that the men wouldn’t follow a seventeen year old, no matter how strong or skilled, into battle against the powerful and corrupt regime of Athens and its fierce warlords. Their respect and trust was easier to obtain by planting in them the belief I was older and hence wiser. Since I was taller and stronger than my peers, no one suspected my real age. Only my mother, my brother and a very few of their neighbors who prevailed after the attack on Amphipolis know my secret and guard it zealously. Now you know it as well.”

“I thank my Lord for the great trust placed in me,” the Queen pressed her lips against her Lord’s hard jaw.

“When is your birthday, Gabrielle?” the Conqueror asked.

“ In three moons time, my Lord,” she answered.

“And what would you wish for a gift, sweet Gabrielle?”

“For this to go on,” she said and kissed her Lord’s lips silently explaining what she meant by ‘this.’

“Granted, what else do you wish for?”

“I would forever be grateful if my Lord would commission the construction of a hospice in Macedonia where poor commoners can come and heal, free of charge, a place where healers are trained.”

The Conqueror’s admiration towards her Queen thrived and grew tenfold for her selfless and charitable request.

“Your will be done, my Lady Gabrielle,” the Conqueror promised, and she gathered the Queen in her encompassing arms and slowly spread small kisses over her face.

“And now, if it pleases you, since today is my Lord’s thirtieth birthday…” she wore a sultry look about her, and pressed her naked body against her Lord’s to rekindle her desire for her.

“Again?!” the Conqueror’s eyebrow rose.

“Didn’t my Lord just finish telling me how young…” the Queen began to tease but the Conqueror’s gluttonous lips barred the Queen’s with a passionate kiss.
Part 16
Soon after the Royal couple’s return to the palace, the Conqueror sent for her brother and his wife to be brought before her. Two days afterwards, Toris and his wife arrived at the palace.

After supper had been served, the Conqueror ordered the servants that waited on them to leave, and the Conqueror, the Queen, Toris and his wife were left alone in the Dining Hall.

It was then that the Conqueror expressed her desire to her brother that he should donate his seed for the purpose of impregnating her wife. She left the specifics of the manner in which it would be done to be explained by the Queen.

Being that Toris’ wife was barren, and the fact that they were childless, they both eagerly agreed and welcomed the prospect of becoming so closely related to the Conqueror’s heir. They were invited to stay in the palace by the grateful Queen.

The following day, the Queen informed Perous that she would advocate his matter on his behalf to the Conqueror. When he left her presence, he was only too glad that the Queen seemed to be a tad soft in the head and could be so easily manipulated.

When the optimal time for the Queen’s conception arrived, the Conqueror’s brother was escorted to the Imperial chambers. Once there, he was handed a cup in which to deposit his donation and was lead to a private chamber within the Imperial suite for the execution of the task.

When he was done, he handed over the filled cup to the Conqueror, who heartedly thanked him before he left.

The Conqueror entered the candle lit Imperial bedchamber, where her wife had been waiting for her, and seated herself upon the bed next to the Queen.

The Queen gave her Lord a long slender iron cone shaped device, which she had had the blacksmith mold for her after she gave him specific instructions and exact measures. Then she directed her Lord on how to pour the substance into the cone’s wide end.

The Conqueror positioned herself on her knees at her wife’s feet and held the filled cone in her hand. Next, she leaned down and brought her face to the Queen’s core and stimulated the nodule with wet worshiping licks.

The Queen placed her legs over her Lord’s shoulders and lifted her hips in the air.

At the peak of her Queen’s arousal, the Conqueror placed the narrow end of the cone at her wife’s opening and carefully inserted it into her wife’s womanhood. When it couldn’t be advanced inside any further, the Conqueror placed her mouth over the wide end of the cone and gently blew her breath into it, pushing the substance to seep out from the cone and into her Queen’s depth.

“And now, my adored Lord,” the Queen, who was overwhelmed by her emotions, said to her Lord, “let me conceive… and we shall have a child.”

Upon hearing the words being uttered so passionately by her Queen, the Conqueror felt a sharp piercing pain stabbing her heart that behooved her to regulate her breathing. She removed her robe and moved to lie on top of her wife, supporting her weight on her elbows.

As they stared deeply into each other’s eyes, Gabrielle felt her Lord’s fingers tenderly pampering her face like butterflies fluttering their wings against her skin, and she thought she had never seen her Lord wear a softer expression on her features.

When the Conqueror entered her and with her length shoving the substance that would grow new life further into the Queen’s womb, their lips locked and their tongues pressed and swiveled around each other.

The Conqueror sensed a small hand gliding down her back and finally resting at the apex of her backside, pushing down against her hips, which leisurely rotated in and out of the Queen and stirred her shaft deep inside the throbbing saturated channel.

“My precious Gabrielle,” the Conqueror spoke tenderly into her wife’s mouth then wistfully seized the smaller woman’s lips once again, as if she couldn’t stay away from them for more than a fraction of a moment.

Their coupling that night was unhurried, deliberate and gentle yet laden with visceral hunger . The Conqueror’s laggard ministrations took the Queen higher and higher but left her on a plateau, teetering at the edge.

The Queen’s slighter body writhed uncontrollably as she felt the sexual pressure amassing and spilling out of her. As she anchored her arms around her Lord’s neck and panted in time with her Lord’s impassioned thrusts, she feared her body wouldn’t be able to withstand the awesomeness of the impending and inevitable release.

Their climax surged through their entangled bodies, making them cling desperately to one another whilst the Conqueror was buried deepest yet inside her wife.

When it was over, the Conqueror rested her head over Gabrielle’s voluptuous breasts, and Gabrielle, enjoying the feeling of her Lord inside her still, delved her fingers into her hair.

There was no need for words between them that night.

***

A moon and a half passed, and Perous was received in the Queen’s chambers to inquire after any progress or news regarding his matter.

“Sir, I have diligently appealed your matter with my Lord and constantly…”

“It’s been almost two moons…” he interrupted her speech.

But Satrina, the Queen’s lady in waiting, who stood next to her mistress, reminded him, “You are in her Majesty’s presence.”

The Queen resumed, “My Lord is still considering the matter and would render a decision in due time. You may leave now.”

“Thank you, Majesty,” he bowed and left her chambers.

***

The Conqueror and the Queen were dining together in the dining hall.

“Perous came to see me again today, my Lord,” the Queen said as one of her ladies in waiting poured her a second cup of tea.

“This is his fifth visit to you, my Lady,” the Conqueror pointed out.

“Indeed, my Lord,” the Queen confirmed. “He is getting restless and impatient and I suspect he would soon realize that he isn’t about to regain my Lord’s graces.”

“He will be dealt with,” the Conqueror said and glanced over at the Queen’s plate. “I see you’re eating figs again. You’ve had them yesterday and the day before.”

“My Lord is very perceptive. I seem to have developed a fondness for them. For some reason I desire them above anything else,” the Queen smiled and bit her teeth into the luscious fruit.
“Leave us,” the Conqueror ordered the servants who waited on them and after the last of the servants had left and the doors to the dining hall had been closed, the Conqueror rose to her feet, walked over to the other side of the table and knelt next to the Queen.

“I think you are with child,” she smiled and placed a gentle hand over the Queen’s belly.

“I think my Lord is correct. I have yet to receive my moon cycle. I will visit with the Royal healer today.” The Queen was overjoyed and rested her small hand over the Conqueror’s, which was still covering her belly. Never in her life did she ever think that one day she would experience motherhood.

“I am very proud,” the Conqueror said and looked into the Queen’s sparkling green eyes.

“What does my Lord desire best, a boy or a girl?” the Queen asked.

“It is of no consequence to me. And you, my Lady?” the Conqueror kissed her Queen’s neck.

“None what so ever, my Lord.”

“You mustn’t exhort or excite yourself.”

“I won’t, my Lord. I shall be vigilant and mindful in protecting the well-being of our child,” she said then pondered.

“What is it?” the Conqueror inquired.

” I know my Lord is very… amorous,” she began to say and for a moment she regretted bringing up the matter, but it was her duty, as she perceived it, that compelled her to go on, “and has desires that need addressing, and my Lord might find consolation elsewhere while I’m with child. My only wish is that my gracious Lord would maintain her affections and graces towards me.” Her head drooped between her shoulders and she removed her hand from above the Conqueror’s.

At first, no reply came from her Lord and the Queen wished she could take back what had been spoken.

“My Lady, don’t you know?” the Conqueror said and the Queen was staggered by the softness of her Lord’s voice, and by the words soon to follow. “There hasn’t been anyone else but you since you’ve entered my world.”

The Queen’s reaction to her words made the Conqueror become aware for the first time of the repercussions brought on by years of silence she had imposed on them.

She collected the future mother of her child in her arms and placed a tender kiss on her head. “There are ways to give and receive pleasure which aren’t hazardous to our child, so you needn’t trouble your mind with such matters.”

“Thank you, my gracious Lord,” the Queen whispered gratefully next to her Lord’s chest.

***

When the Queen entered the fourth moon of her pregnancy, word of rebels gathering in Cyra, led by Perous and his mercenaries, reached the palace.

“The Lord Conqueror and her Majesty the Queen,” announced the ceremony master as the Conqueror and her Queen entered the Great Hall.
The Conqueror and the Queen were perched on their thrones in the Great Hall, where the Realm’s nobility had been summoned.

“Noblemen, I will be leading my legions to Cyra tonight to quell the civil unrest and exterminate Perous and his followers who unlawfully rebel against us and I hope to substantiate that Perous is acting alone. In my absence, her Majesty the Queen will act as regent. I trust you will all provide her Majesty with your unreserved assistance and support.”

The Conqueror and the Queen stepped down from their thrones and proceeded to leave the Great Hall while the Realm’s nobility parted in the middle, creating a passage and bowing before them as the Imperial couple passed them by.

After leaving the Great Hall, they parted ways. The Conqueror went to the armory where her groom assisted her with her battle attire, whilst the Queen retired to her chambers.

“The Lord Conqueror,” announced Satrina as the Conqueror entered the Queen’s chambers. The Queen’s ladies in waiting bowed before the Conqueror.

“Ladies,” the Queen signaled them to leave her chambers.

Once alone, the Conqueror moved around the Queen and from behind her wrapped her arms around the Queen’s waist and rested her hand above the Queen’s swollen belly.

“You are showing,” she whispered in her ear.

“I am, my Lord,” the Queen said and rested the side of her head against the Conqueror’s. “How long before you return, my Lord?” she asked.

“It is hard to determine, my Lady. Prous is a coward who chose to immerse himself and his followers amongst the good people of Cyra. I cannot just march my legions into Cyra and pulverize the entire province. Most of Cyra’s sons and daughters are our loyal subjects. I will be forced to sift through the population to distinguish between them and the rebels.”

The Queen curbed her disappointment. She knew her Lord needn’t be burdened by anything other than the task at hand.

The Conqueror released her Queen and went around her to face her again.

“You do understand that I cannot take you with me this time. I cannot stash you on some wagon, not now that you are Queen and not in your delicate condition,” she said in answer to a request that hadn’t been spoken and cupped her wife’s face in her hands.

“Of course, my Lord,” the Queen nodded, then slightly turned her head to place a kiss on the Conqueror’s palm still against her face. She was troubled and uneasy. “Perous is a desperate man with nothing to lose, my Lord.”

“Do not worry. I had ample time to prepare, afforded to me by your stalling tactic.”

“Promise me you would return to me alive and unscathed.”

“You have my word, sweet Gabrielle,” the Conqueror said and kissed her Queen passionately before tearing herself from her.
Part 17

The Conqueror was sitting at her desk inside her tent at the outskirts of Cyra. Two oil lanterns gave off a soft orange glow. Outside everything was quiet, aside from an owl hooting in the distance. Troops of her Imperial Gourd were sleeping in their bedrolls around the campfires and the night guards patrolled the parameter. She reached for the letter carrying the Queen’s seal first, and traced the grooves in the red wax with her fingertips. After opening it, she brought it to her nose to see if she could catch the familiar fragrance of her wife she so longed for.

My Lord, my Lion,

I thank you my Lord, for trusting your Realm in my unworthy hands. Although, I wish you were here to grant me the benefit of your wisdom. I’m but a poor substitute for my Lord and I often meet with Chin’s ambassador to the Realm who provides me with fine and trustworthy council. I am sure my Lord would be pleased to learn that he has sent for Princess Lao-Ling’s personal healer to attend me until after I have given birth.

I am glad to say matters of state do not trouble me greatly. Most issues aren’t urgent and will keep until after my Lord has returned.

My Lord’s province, Egypt wished to negotiate the price of grain and raise it again. I am glad to report that my Lord’s governor of Egypt reconsidered after I informed him that we would consider raising the prices for grapes and wine in return. It was agreed upon that the price of grain would be secured for the next two years at the current rate.

I hope that you’re successful in your mission, my Lord. I cannot understand what madness possessed nobleman Perous. What would behoove him to resort to violently rebel against you and incite your subjects to revolt against you as well, my Lord? I know not. Surely he must know that he doesn’t stand a prayer against my Lord and that there can only be one outcome, his inevitable demise. I cannot help but wondering whether there is another aspect to these recent events that is unknown to me yet.

I also wish to thank you, my Lord, for the hospice you’ve built in Macedonia as a gift to me as promised. It was reported to me that it is very large and very ingeniously built. Also, that it is endowed with beds and other furniture and with the best tools of a healer’s trade, including healing herbs from all around the world. It is a monument to my Lord’s infinite generosity. I have yet to visit it although I am anxious to witness it with my own eyes, but I thought it ill advised and imprudent to travel to Macedonia in my condition.

I wish to put my Lord’s concern to rest and let you know that I’m well taken care of, both I and our child growing inside of me are well and in good health. My belly grows with each day that passes and I wish my Lord could be here to see it.

Although my Lord’s absence has not been long yet, the want of your presence means that I cannot take pleasure in anything until I hear from my Lord. Time hangs heavily. Admiration and passion compels me to desire your presence every moment of the agonizing long days. I wait longing for your safe and triumphant return to my arms and my bed, my Lion.

Your true, obedient wife and servant,

Queen Gabrielle.

When she finished reading the letter, the Conqueror took a quill and wrote a letter to her Queen as well. When she was done, she sent for the courier .

***

Since the Conqueror’s departure, the Queen was consumed by longings for her Lord’s return. Since their wedding, the Conqueror and the Queen never slept apart, and like any cherished thing it was easy to get used to and hard to do without. Now, with the Conqueror at Cyra, sleeping in their bed made the Queen miss her Lord even more and so she’d rather sleep in her own bedchamber at her suite. Nevertheless, each and every night she would lie naked in their Imperial bed even though it made her feel immensely alone, in the hopes that that night would be the night her Lord would finally return to her.

As she lay in their bed and rubbed oil over her growing belly to keep her skin from starching and hanging loose after she gave birth, a knock on the door pulled her out of her ritual. Knowing it wasn’t her Lord, for the latter would not knock on the door before entering, she got up and covered herself with her light nightgown.

“Enter,” she called.

“Majesty,” said Satrina as she entered, “Forgive the intrusion at such a late hour, but a letter for you has arrived from the Lord Conqueror and I thought you wouldn’t want to wait till morning.”

“Thank you so very much, Satrina. You did well coming here.”

With trembling hands the Queen opened the letter carrying the Conqueror’s seal and as her eyes recognized her Lord’s handwriting she failed to notice Satrina had left the Imperial suite.

My Queen,

I am very pleased to learn that both you and our child are doing ever so well and that such a capable Queen rules the Realm. Your wonderful letter has afforded me much needed peace of mind.

Soon after my arrival to Cyra, I addressed our subjects and gave them my word that I would not hold a grudge against them. I would not seek revenge on those who would lay down their weapons and stifle their unjust and illegitimate rebellion against us. My heralds carried that message throughout the province. I am pleased to say that most of our subjects in Cyra, as I suspected remained true and loyal to us. Most of those who were disloyal laid down their arms and abandoned all notion of mutiny.

The Imperial Guard under my command fought against those who maintained their traitorous stance. It was nothing short of a bloodbath, for mine are trained warriors and Perous’ followers were mostly misguided civilians and a handful of mercenaries. It was with grave heart that I struck the former down. Mutiny is infectious. I had to put a swift and decisive end to it before it spread to other provinces like a plague.

How clever you are, my sweet Gabrielle. Perous never thought he could overpower me on the battlefield and succeed where great nations such as Britannia, Gaul and Persia failed. As I suspected before leaving Corinth , he used the people of Cyra as a distraction from his main goal. He hired a few notorious assassins to kill me.

Your tactic of delaying him afforded me much needed time to apprehend those who were commissioned to do the deed and before I arrived at Cyra the threat had already been lifted.

I didn’t tell you beforehand because I didn’t wish to upset or worry you.

Perous is still at large but he is close within my grasp. I wager he didn’t design this plan on his own. He is not that smart or sly, merely a skillful administrator. I distinctly sense the presence of an unseen hand that is moving Perous like a game piece on a board. He had help to be sure, but from who has yet to be revealed.

As for the hospice, you needn’t thank me. It is I who need to thank you for asking me to build it. I give you my word that we shall visit it after the birth of our child.
I have never written a letter to a wife waiting for my return from the battlefield. I have neither your talent for words nor your poetic soul, so please forgive this glorified warrior for this inadequate correspondence. I will tell you this, never before have I desired to return home from the battlefield as much as I desire to now.

I will return to you before long, dear wife.

Your Lord

Tears of joy and relief streamed down the expecting Queen and she kissed her Lord’s seal upon the letter and began to read it over and over again.

***

A couple of days later, just before noon, two of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, Lady Satrina and Lady Messalina, attended the Queen in the Imperial chambers.

“Your Majesty, may I speak freely?” asked Lady Messalina as she fastened the clasp of the necklace around the Queen’s neck.

“Please do,” replied the Queen.

“I’ve heard rumors… perhaps, I shouldn’t say anything…”

Lady Satrina pricked her ears and couldn’t shake the feeling that something foreboding was about to occur.

The Queen shared Lady Satrina’s feeling and immediately sealed her features, and outwardly exhibited her perfected indifference. “What rumors?”

“The Lord Conqueror has taken some young lass to her bed… She was seen entering the Imperial tent by the Conqueror’s orders.”

The Queen felt her heart sinking inside her chest.

“We mustn’t pay heed to such vicious and immaterial rumors,” she said with an even tone of voice and furthered away from Lady Messalina. “Thank you Messalina, you may take your leave now.”

When only the Queen and Lady Satrina remained in the Imperial chambers, the Queen suddenly felt a sharp internal pain in her lower abdomen. She felt her legs giving out from under her, utterly alarmed at the notion that there was something terribly wrong with either her or the child. A gripping terror started gnawing at her that she might miscarry or even worse.

Lady Satrina rushed to her Queen’s aid and supported her, but the Queen already had regained her composure and signaled to her that there was no cause for concern.

“I’m so sorry, your Majesty,” was all Satrina could offer to console her Queen, dear friend and benefactor, as she guided her slowly to bed.

Lady Satrina carefully helped the distressed Queen to bed. The Queen placed a gentle hand over her lady’s forearm and said, “Do not be sorry for me, dear Satrina. I have many reasons to be happy.”

But Satrina couldn’t bring herself to feign a smile. “Rest now, Majesty. I shall fetch the healer then stay here with you until he comes.”

“Promise me something,” the Queen took her devoted friend’s hand in hers, making it harder on the latter to refuse her anything. “If anything should happen to me…”

“Majesty, nothing is going to happen to you.” Lady Satrina did her best not to exhibit the resurface of previous panic from moments before, and intentionally shut her mind to the possibility that she should suffer the loss of her beloved Queen and friend.

“If anything should happen to me, be a comfort to my Lord.”

“A comfort?” questioned the Conqueror’s former body slave, though she understood the meaning of the Queen’s words only too well.

“If you are so inclined…” rasped the Queen.

“Majesty, if Gods forbid anything should happen to you, there isn’t a woman or anything else on earth that would be of any comfort to the Lord Conqueror,” Lady Satrina said with ardent conviction.

But the Queen remained steadfast in her view. “That is very kind of you to say… Nevertheless, promise me…”

“I promise, Majesty,” lady Satrina finally gave in.

“You mustn’t speak to anyone about what happened here. If rumors from Cyra reach the palace then surely rumors can find their way from here to Crya, and I don’t wish to disturb or distract my Lord,” said the Queen to her trusted subject.

***

After receiving word from sources regarding Perous’ whereabouts, the Conqueror left camp alone to confront him. As reported, she found him hiding in an abandoned barn at the outskirts of Cyra dressed as a peasant. He appeared weary and frightened. It was evident that he hadn’t bathed in days.

“Majesty,” Perous said when he saw his Sovereign standing at the entrance with her sword unsheathed.

“Was it worth it?” the Conqueror asked.

“I acted foolishly, your Majesty. I beg you for mercy,” he pleaded.

“Kneel when I speak to you,” the Conqueror’s voice roared and he immediately fell to his knees before her.

“I only wished to return to your Majesty’s good graces,” he went on to explain his actions while kneeling down in the mud, but his words fell on deaf ears.

“Name your accomplices!”

“On my life, I don’t know, Majesty. After I had been stripped of my position as your Majesty’s governor to Cyra, I began to receive anonymous letters to my place of abode egging me on to claim back what I had lost. The letters were left during the night along with a few purses of gold that enabled me to put the plan suggested in the letters in motion. On my wife’s and children’s lives, if I knew who it was that had written the letters I would tell your Majesty.”

The Conqueror knew that lying demands greater effort to maintain concentration and consolidation of mind, and intimidation proved to be highly conducive to truth telling, or at the very least, bad lying. Therefore, she was confidant he had spoken the truth when she saw him kneeling in a puddle of his own urine with his trousers stinking wet with it.

“Your little adventure took me away from my pregnant wife and deprived her of my presence. I will tell you this, it’s not that she’s an unworthy Queen; it is you, her inferior, who is unworthy of her.” The Conqueror sneered as she sheathed her sword, drew out a dagger from her leather boot and launched it into the ground before him.

“I was too proud and extremely foolish, your Majesty.”

“It is peculiar that your disrespect towards her Majesty the Queen vexed me more than your rebellion against me. Knowing that unlike ours, her heart is good and pure. She wouldn’t want blood to be shed in her honor, not even yours. I will grant you a noble death in spite of the fact that clearly, you don’t deserve it. Open your stomach,” the Conqueror said and pointed down at the dagger, which was imbedded up to the hilt in the urine soaked ground.

“Thank you, your Majesty. I hope that your Majesty would forgive any trespasses I’ve committed against you Majesty and the gracious Queen,” he said, then took the dagger and did as his Master commanded .

When his gurgling ceased and Perous lay dead on the ground in a pool of his own blood and piss, the Conqueror tied his body to her mare. Thinking her subjects needed to see with their own eyes the consequences of defying her she headed back to camp.

***

Meanwhile, in northern Greece , in a desolated tavern on the border between two of the Realm’s provinces, Philippi and Macedonia , Nobleman Verosus and Nobleman Marton shared a pitcher of cold domestic ale.

“My sources tell me that the Conqueror quelled the mutiny in Cyra,” Nobleman Verosus, the Conqueror’s governor to Philippi , informed his fellow nobleman.

“Of course she did. There was never any doubt that the Conqueror would,” replied the Conqueror’s grey-haired governor to the neighboring province. “The people of Cyra love the Conqueror and love the Queen even more, for they perceive her as one of their own, a commoner.”

“Then what was the point of all this? We both departed with a substantial sum to finance Perous’ doomed adventure,” Nobleman Verosus said in anger and slammed his mug onto the table.

Nobleman Marton chuckled when he saw his partner so livid. “Calm yourself, brother, Perous isn’t the primary pawn in this game.”

“Who, then? Explain yourself. There is nothing I detest more than losing my hard earned fortune.”

“The only source of power women have in this world, except for the Conqueror obviously, lays between two things only, their legs. One of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, Lady Messalina, has a young daughter,” Nobleman Marton spewed the word ‘Queen’ like venom out of his mouth, “…A pretty young thing with golden hair, just like the Conqueror’s fancies, and as we speak said daughter is making her way into the Conqueror’s tent.” He didn’t conceal his self-contentment as he rubbed his fat belly.

“I don’t understand,” Nobleman Verosus insisted.

“Of course you don’t. My source in Cyra divulged the details of Perous’ whereabouts to the Conqueror and I trust the Conqueror is probably on route by now, if she hasn’t killed Perous already. When she returns to her tent after full victory is cajoled, she’ll be riddled with battle-lust. With the Queen far away and pregnant, she is bound to take Lady Messalina’s daughter and word of it will reach the Queen in Corinth .” Nobleman Marton rubbed his hands together in satisfaction.

“What of it?”

“Lady Messalina told me that the Queen seems to bear great love for the Conqueror. To quote her, ‘When in the Conqueror’s presence, she lights up like a summer sun in Africa .’ How pathetic is that, I ask you!?”

Nobleman Verosus nodded his head in agreement.

Nobleman Marton continued, “When the Queen finds out about the infidelity… Well, you know what pregnant women are like… discord between the Queen and her Lord is guaranteed and the Queen’s fall from grace will soon follow.”

The barmaid served the noblemen a couple of roasted chickens with onions they had ordered. Nobleman Marton was the first to reach for the platter. He tore one of the bird’s legs and ripped the flesh straight from the bone with his teeth.

“What makes you so sure that the Conqueror would take the nubile daughter of Lady Messalina?”

“It’s in the Conqueror’s nature,” he answered while his mouth was busy masticating the meat. “I fought alongside her years ago. I’ve seen what the Conqueror is like when she returns after victory is achieved… It’s like the war is following her still, like some parasite is in her blood and her tent becomes a secondary battle-zone. She always used to have some wretched lass at her disposal. Let me tell you, brother… the sounds that usually emanate from her tent used to chill the blood in my veins and invoke pity for the poor soul even in a heart such as mine.”

Nobleman Verosus burst into laughter and refilled his partner’s mug to the brim.

“How did you manage to persuade Lady Messalina to subject her daughter to such horror and disgrace?” asked Nobleman Verosus.

“A year ago, I was most fortunate to discover that Lady Messalina had, shall we say illicit dalliances behind her husband’s back. Fact is, she was engaged in feverish fornications with several men. She sacrificed her daughter to keep her secret from reaching her husband and provider.”

“You extorted her…”

“Naturally,” confirmed Nobleman Marton.

“You are one cold fish,” Nobleman Verosus shook his head.

“With Lady Messalina’s daughter available to the Conqueror and with her stunning looks, the Conqueror might discard the Queen and take a liking to Lady Messalina’s daughter. She’ll be by far more easily manipulated than the current ruling harlot on account of what I hold over her mother’s head.”

“So the mutiny…?” asked Nobleman Verosus.

“A ruse, just for the purpose of boiling the Conqueror’s blood with lust…” smirked Nobleman Marton.

“You are a fiend, my friend, I’ll grant you that. Perous… what a sad dog,” concluded Nobleman Verosus. ” He still doesn’t know it was us who sent him the letters and purses, does he?”

“Honestly, do you peg me for a fool?!”
Part 18

Near dusk the Conqueror returned to camp with Perous’ lifeless body dragging on the ground behind her. She dismounted her mare and handed the reigns to her groom. The guards at her tent’s entrance stood at attention as she entered it.

Inside her tent the Conqueror saw a barely ripe golden-haired lass waiting there, on her knees stripped of any clothes.

“What is your name girl?” the Conqueror asked as her eyes moved over what was presented before her. The feeling of aching pressure in her loins had been present soon after her encounter with Perous. When her starved eyes rested on the golden patch of hair between the lass’ thighs, it occurred to her that due to the Queen’s condition she hasn’t been inside a woman for a while now. True, she and the Queen had engaged in several, quite satisfying sex acts but penetration hasn’t been a part of them, and the ach in her loins intensified.

“Domitia, your Majesty,” the small voice brought the Conqueror to the present.
“And what are you doing here, Domitia?” the Conqueror asked, playing-with-her-food-like, for the lass who had chosen to greet her in her birth-suit left no doubt as per her intentions.

“I’m here to service you, your Majesty,” the lass replied.

“Service me?” the Conqueror smiled almost sinisterly and scoffed. This wasn’t a novelty. Death and power had always been potent aphrodisiacs, these used to draw young women in flocks to her in the past. The Conqueror walked to the basin filled with fresh water and washed her face and hands.

“Surely my Lord needs to expel battle lust. I’m here to receive it.” Domitia rose to her feet and moved closer to the Conqueror pushing forward her recently sprung breasts.

The Conqueror poured herself a cup of water to quench her thirst and packed a small bag with some personal items she needed with her for the ride back to Corinth .

“I need my Queen,” the Conqueror growled and moved aside, clearing a path for the temptress to leave the way she came.

“I’ll do anything you want,” the lass offered.

“You have no idea what my wants are,” her Sovereign strictly informed her.

The lass moved to stand between the Conqueror and the tent’s entrance.

“Please Majesty,” she pleaded and ran her palms over her own pricked barely developed breasts.

“You are standing between my wife and me. I’m hard pressed to think of a more dangerous spot on earth you could have placed yourself in,” the Conqueror said and tossed a blanket to the lass. “Cover yourself and get out of my way, little girl.”

But Domitia refused to budge.

“If you will not move now, you’ll be run over by my boots.”

Domitia finally gave way.

The Conqueror got out of her tent and turned to one of her guards.

“Lord Conqueror,” he exclaimed.

“How did she pass by you and got in here?” the Conqueror asked and signaled with a slight tilt of her head at the direction of her tent.

“She said your Majesty had ordered her to enter and wait inside,” he answered.

“And how long has she been waiting inside?”

“No longer than half a candle-mark before your Majesty entered. She said she had been wandering lost for a while and that she had been waiting in Captain Cornelius’s tent for three solid candle-marks by mistake even, before he had returned and she had realized her error.”

“In the future, no women are allowed in my tent no matter what they claim I ordered, is that clear?”

“By your will, Lord Conqueror,” he exclaimed.

“Once she is fully clothed, you will escort her safely outside camp perimeter,” the Conqueror ordered then turned to the second guard. “Have the groom fetch me a fresh horse, the fastest one he’s got, and tell Captain Cornelius to report to me.”

“By your will, Lord Conqueror,” they called out in unison.

A few short moments later, the groom brought the Conqueror a well-rested stallion. As she mounted it, Captain Cornelius approached her.

“Captain,” the Conqueror greeted him.

“Lord Conqueror,” he bowed, “Congratulation on your victory.”

“You and the men did exceedingly well, and handled this delicate matter to my satisfaction and with accordance to my expectations.”

“I’ll be sure to tell your soldiers, my Liege .”

“It is my understanding that a young woman entered your tent by mistake.”

“I assure your Majesty I haven’t laid a finger on her and sent her straight away to your Majesty’s tent as ordered.”

“I haven’t issued any such order. I have never seen that lass before just now.”

“My apologies, the girl claimed you ordered her to service you, my Liege .”

“I left her as untouched as I found her. Now order the troops to prepare to move out and break camp tomorrow at first light. I’m heading back to Corinth now. I leave you in command.”

“By your will, Lord Conqueror,” he said yet he lingered still in the Conqueror’s presence.

“Is there anything else?” the Conqueror inquired.

“There is, your Majesty. There is something that has been lying heavy on my conscience for quite some time now,” he said and looked around to make sure that none of his subordinates were within hearing distance.

“What is it?”

“A few years ago, her Majesty the Queen treated an injury I sustained during sparring on the military drilling field. As a result of the treatment I received, I felt a sharp pain and if it weren’t for the healer halting my actions, I would have struck her Majesty. I swear, when I raised my hand I didn’t realize who she belonged to. I also said some things that were disrespectful and cruel to her Majesty the Queen. It was uncalled for. She conducted herself with rare dignity, which is more than I can say for myself, and granted me with the best of care, which was more than I deserved. The Queen’s grace and humility has taught me a valuable lesson. I am a changed man, I am proud to say.”

The Conqueror listened carefully to his words. When she heard about his abusive behavior towards her Queen, she had half a mind to cast a brutal beating to him, strip him of his rank and thus shame him publicly in front of his subordinates. But when she detected genuine remorse in his eyes and his voice, she reconsidered. Fact was, it was he who volunteered to disclose the incident, which was against his interest to do so, and if he hadn’t told her, odds were she wouldn’t have learned about it otherwise. The Queen, she imagined, suffered unkindness, to say the least, during her years of servitude, yet she never, not even after their marriage, raised any complaint or demanded any form of retribution against those who had treated her poorly.

“Captain Cornelius,” she called and watched him nearly cringing, “You will raise this issue before the one against whom you’ve committed the offense. It is at her Majesty the Queen’s discretion to either pardon or punish you.”

“By your will, Lord Conqueror. May you have a safe journey home,” he bowed respectfully and watched his Master as she turned to ride back to Corinth .

***

Close to midnight, the Conqueror slipped quietly into the Imperial spacious Roman style bath to wash off any remnants of blood and filth still smeared on her skin. The room-temperature water did nothing to cool her searing blood. If anything it was the other way around, the presence of her body causing the bathwater to warm up and tainting it brownish red.

When she was done bathing, the Conqueror entered the dimly lit Imperial bedchamber unclothed and barefoot. In the Imperial bed she found her naked pregnant Queen, whom she hasn’t seen for a moon, sleeping soundly on her side.

The Conqueror’s roaming eyes surveyed her wife’s body, her swollen belly, her luscious breasts, which grew larger by the pregnancy, and the warm healthy glow about her white skin. The returning Lord unconsciously moved her tongue over her teeth and in her ears she could sense her blood pumping. The sight of her pregnant Queen, a symbol of femininity and fertility, and the collar around the Queen’s smooth thigh was almost her undoing.

“My Lord,” the Queen opened her eyes when the unmistakable feeling of her Lord’s presence woke her.

But no answer came, as if the Conqueror couldn’t trust her own voice.

It was then that the Queen noticed her Lord’s dark bloodshot eyes, the voracious predatory look, her Lord’s stance, the tautness of her muscles, her nearly salivating mouth, and the heat permeating the air around her Lord’s body. It was evident that battle-lust hadn’t been expelled yet.

The Queen’s surprise was written all over her face. She couldn’t reconcile between the circulating rumors regarding her Lord having carnal knowledge of a young lass in Cyra and the fact that here stood her Lord undeniably riddled with unspent battle-lust. Soon relief soothed the Queen. That in spite of persistent rumors to the contrary, the battle-lust hadn’t been expelled and her Lord remained physically true to her.

“Come lay with me, my Lord,” the Queen said and stretched her arms in an invitation.

“Best if we didn’t share a bed tonight, Madam.” The Conqueror’s voice was strained, cold and raucous.

“I shall not be able to bear the distance, my Lord,” the Queen bargained.

“You shall be able to bear my darkness even less,” the Conqueror argued and took a step back away from their bed. “You look so very delicious and exquisite… so enticing… who will save you from me?”

“I’ve never needed saving from you, my Lord. I trust my Lord completely. I pray you, please do not deprive me the pleasure of your company… I have waited so long for you, my Lord.”

The Conqueror approached the bed with small slow steps. She laid herself alongside her Queen and spread her bare heated body against the slighter form. The contact of skin against skin, flesh against flesh drew out a grunt from deep within her throat. She snaked her forearm beneath Gabrielle’s neck and her free hand worked dexterously to knead the Queen’s ample breasts. No matter how many times she had seen the Queen’s naked body, she was every bit as enthralled by it as the first night she had seen it. Her hand then skittered down the Queen’s calf until her steel grip latched around the Queen’s delicate ankle. She motioned her wife to rest her leg over her own thigh, positioning it how she wanted her. Her proprietary hand glided back up the Queen’s leg and coaxed a soft white thigh to give way.
“It might take me a while longer to come in this fashion,” the Conqueror admitted as she pressed her engorged sex against the Queen’s buttocks.

The Queen weaved her fingers into the Conqueror’s damp dark hair and pulled her down for a passionate kiss, “Let it take all night and all tomorrow, for I shan’t have enough of you before then, my Lord .”

The Conqueror’s fingers delivered slow, reticent strokes to the Queen’s throbbing spot between her parted thighs.

The Queen in response moved against the pleasuring fingers to further assuage her need. When she felt her Lord’s hard erection rubbing intensely against her rear cheek, her insides were contracting, screaming to be filled and consumed by her Lord’s possessing touch. She placed her hand over her Lord’s hand, which was giving sexual attention to her centre, and guided two strong fingers to her pulsating wet slit.

“What are you doing?” the Conqueror broke their kiss.

“I have read that some Chinese healers actually recommend it, my Lord,” the Queen replied with a sly look and led her Lord’s eager fingers into the depth of her sex canal.

The Conqueror felt the Queen’s womanhood close hard around her fingers, sucking them deeper into her and her protruding nodule pressing urgently against the heel of her hand. Feeling her darkness arising inside her, the Conqueror closed her eyes, not wishing to disclose her fantastic, owning savagery to her mate.

“Please, my Lord,” the Conqueror heard Gabrielle’s ardent supplication, and felt a soft palm caressing her rigid forehead, along with an errant strand of hair, “Keep them open.”

Gabrielle longed to bear witness to the smoldering peerless darkness, the Lord Conqueror’s darkness, which made her skin bristle, her heart shudder and her body consume itself with smothering ardor.

The Conqueror obliged her and opened her dark blue eyes, mustering every ounce of control she had to keep her battle-lust at bay. They kissed again, their tongues playing in each other’s mouths, and when it became too fierce, when the Conqueror’s slow thrusts became too deep or too forceful, the Queen would halt their intimate actions and whisper to her Lord: “Look at me, my Lord, and breathe deeply.” When her Lord mastered herself, coupling resumed.

Candle-marks elapsed, and nearing dawn, the sun’s rays of golden light crept through the curtains. The Conqueror was still pressed against the Queen, ubiquitously wreaking her desire, enduing her Queen with shuttering pleasure.

As the Queen rode her Lord’s hand, she clenched and unclenched her buttocks to allow a harder more satisfying surface for her Lord’s soaking sex.

Their release seemed endless in depth and length. The Conqueror crashed her lips against the Queen’s, and kissed them voraciously as they rode the last waves.

When the last tremors and quivers subsided, their passionate kiss ended, and the Conqueror was about to extract herself from the Queen.

Gabrielle placed a stopping hand above her Lord’s. “Not yet,” she whispered indulgently, glowing from her own satiated state. “Stay inside me.”

Dark tempestuous eyes bore profoundly into lighter moist ones and rendered tender placating words like “I’ve missed you,” caressing like ‘Have you any idea how precious you are to me?’ All remained barred behind the Conqueror’s pursed lips.

The Royal couple drifted off to sleep.

When they woke, it was already midday. Dressed in their robes, they welcomed the light breakfast brought to their chambers and served on the balcony.

The Conqueror told the Queen about Perous’ demise at Cyra. When they finished eating, still reclining on the balcony, the Conqueror took her Queen’s feet and gently massaged them.

“Carrying a child agrees with you,” the Conqueror smiled. “There’s a wonderful glow about you.”

The Queen enjoyed the Conqueror’s skillful digits kneading her feet. “Thank you, my Lord.”

“When I came back last night, you seemed surprised… not surprised to see me, though… you seemed puzzled about something else, what was it?”

“We needn’t discuss it, my Lord,” the Queen replied. “It is of no importance and I do not wish to upset you, my Lord.”

“Nevertheless, I wish to know,” the Conqueror insisted.

The Queen took a few moments in order to choose her words, “I was told my Lord had taken a young woman while in Cyra,” she said eventually with a small voice.

The Conqueror stopped her ministrations to the Queen’s small feet. Sensing she was about to become enraged, she took in a deep breath and resumed tenderly rubbing her wife’s feet.

“Did you believe it?”

The Queen lowered her head and hesitated before rendering her response. “It is not my place to judge or carry any resentment or ill-feelings… At the time I wasn’t sure. I know it was foolish of me to feel jealous, but I must confess, last night when I saw battle-lust about my Lord still, I was relieved and happy. Please forgive me, my Lord, for I couldn’t help it.”

Her answer earned her the Conqueror’s hearty laughter. “Come here, my little vixen,” the tremendously joyous Conqueror said fondly and offered her arm.

The Queen, absolutely loving her Lord’s new term of endearment for her, stood up and before sitting on her Lord’s lap, she asked, “Won’t I be too heavy?”

“Not at all,” the Conqueror said, and cradled the Queen in her arms. “Who was it that told you about the lass?” she asked and applied a pleasuring massage to the Queen’s willing shoulders.

“Lady Messalina,” Gabrielle answered.

“One of your ladies in waiting, isn’t she?”

“Indeed, my Lord,” the Queen replied and fed her Lord a perfectly ripe fig.

The Conqueror took the fig into her mouth, while licking and sucking Gabrielle’s fingers. “Hmmm… tasty Queen…”

It was Gabrielle’s turn to laugh.

To the Conqueror’s ears, Gabrielle’s laughter surpassed the beauty and richness of music. It lifted her soul.

“After confronting Perous, I returned to camp just before sunset. When I entered my tent I saw a young woman kneeling naked inside. Apparently she had been waiting for me there a short while before I entered. She offered to service me, no less. I dismissed her and ordered her to be escorted outside the camp perimeter.”

“That’s odd,” said the Queen.

“What is?” the Conqueror asked and placed a kiss on Gabrielle’s neck.

“Lady Messalina told me that the girl had been seen entering my Lord’s tent before noon that day. By my Lord’s account, the girl first entered your tent closer to dusk. How is it that Lady Messalina knew about the girl before she even set foot…”

The Conqueror’s hands ceased their movement. “Recent events are all starting to make sense now.”

“Someone tried to drive a wedge between us, my Lord,” the Queen concurred.

“They neither took into consideration my capacity for fidelity and self control, nor your kind and amiable nature,” the Conqueror said.

It occurred to the Queen that it hadn’t been merely her kind nature that had hindered the plotting against them, but the great love and reverence she bore her Lord, yet she didn’t voice an amendment.

“I believe the identity of the invisible hand behind all this will soon be revealed to us, my Lord,” the Queen said.

“I think we need to summon Lady Messalina to appear before us, don’t you?” asked the Conqueror.

“I do,” relied the Queen.

“We need to handle it delicately so to not raise an alarm. I already have my suspicions, but I need to be sure. I suggest we summon all of the Realm’s nobility?”

“That would be preferable, in my opinion, and my ladies-in-waiting are customarily in my presence when I sit on the throne, so all will be present. But first, my Lord might wish to feel our child moving inside me…” Gabrielle smiled, allowed her robe to fall loose, and guided the Conqueror’s hand to her exposed belly. “Can you feel it?” she asked and gazed softly at her Lord’s face in order to study her reaction.

With her large palm spread over the Queen’s stomach, the Conqueror felt for the first time the existence of new life growing inside her wife.
Part 19
In northern Greece , in the tavern on the border between Philippi and Macedonia , Nobleman Verosus and Nobleman Marton met with Domitia, in a room they had rented. The two Noblemen could not afford being overheard or even being seen in public with the lass.

“I don’t understand. What did you do wrong?” the frustrated Nobleman Marton shouted at poor Domitia, who of no fault of her own found herself in this impossible and dangerous position. It was all Nobleman Marton could do not to resort to physical violence.

“I did exactly as I’d been told…” the young woman tried to defend herself.

Nobleman Verosus sent his fist through the wall. “Then the Conqueror should have been all over you… in and out of you!” he yelled and his eyebrows nearly touched together.

“The Conqueror wouldn’t touch me,” said Domitia.

Both Noblemen were still waiting for a reasonable explanation for this brilliant failure.

“Perhaps the Conqueror loves the Queen,” she suggested quietly and shrugged.

Both men burst into laughter.

“Young women… All soft in the head… some of them never learn…” said Nobleman Verosus .

“Silly child,” said Nobleman Marton, “the Conqueror doesn’t love. The Conqueror lusts, lusts after power, lusts after blood and lusts after women, that is all. That is the source of her power. That’s what sets her ever so highly above the rest of her sex. She feels no emotions and so she isn’t governed by them.”

“Well, the Lord Conqueror did marry the Queen,” argued Domitia.

“She only married her concubine to spite us, to show us who truly rules the Empire. It is common knowledge even amongst complete idiots!”

Nobleman Marton turned to Nobleman Verosus and said, “We must consider the possibility that the Conqueror didn’t take this silly girl over here because she realized it was all a ploy.”

“By the Gods… what shall we do? Should we run?” Terror began to tighten its grip over Nobleman Verosus and he began fidgeting like a skittish horse.

“We are governors, we can’t just disappear. Besides, there is no escaping the Conqueror. There is no place to hide, no place out of the Conqueror’s reach. If we run now, the Conqueror will know we’re guilty. Let me think…” Nobleman Marton said.

After some time had elapsed in silence with both men pacing restlessly from wall to wall, Nobleman Marton continued: “Lady Messalina won’t say anything. She’s neck deep in this and she has too much to lose.”

“Does the Conqueror know who you are, girl?” Nobleman Verosus questioned.

“The Lord Conqueror knows nothing more than my name, and I am hardly the only Domitia in the Realm,” she said. “And I wore nothing that would imply my station.”

“That’s very good. We might just come out of it alive,” he said.

***

Two days had gone by. The Conqueror and the Queen were taking a stroll in the Imperial gardens, near the lily pond that the Queen adored so much. As they walked together side by side, enjoying the morning sun, the odor of blossoms and the light exercise, Gabrielle recalled the days when she had been a slave. How she used to walk in these magnificent gardens, trying to understand her Lord’s moods and actions. It felt like a lifetime ago. As if to remind herself that she was in a different place now, that those days were over, Gabrielle reached for her Lord and interlaced her arm with the Conqueror’s.

“They are all waiting for us in the Great Hall,” Gabrielle said.

“Let them wait,” the Conqueror smiled and looked at her Queen, while pressing a gentle hand over the pregnant Queen’s back for support.

“There is one thing that isn’t clear to me, why didn’t Lady Messalina wait until after nightfall to tell me about the girl?”

“Whoever set this entire subterfuge didn’t take two things into account. I wasn’t familiar with the informant that disclosed Perous’ whereabouts. I wasn’t sure whether I could trust him or not, and I wasn’t about to march blindly into a trap on the ‘say so’ of an informant I knew nothing about. First, I sent a scout to check the area and to confirm that Perous was indeed there and that he was alone. That took time,” explained the Conqueror.

“And the second thing?”

“That I would return from Cyra alone and leave my forces behind… My desire to see you was too great. I couldn’t wait.”

The Queen rose to stand on her toes and placed a warm heartfelt kiss on the Conqueror’s jaw, the highest place she could reach.

“You know, my Lady, you are the Realm’s Sovereign.”

“I know, my Lord,” the Queen said and wondered why her Lord chose this time to remind her of that fact.

“And Lady Messalina is one of your ladies in waiting. She is your responsibility,” the Conqueror said.

The reason for the Conqueror’s words began to become apparent and clear to her. “I assume treason is punishable by death, my Lord?”

“It is, my Lady.”

As they were nearing the gates of the palace, the Queen turned to the Conqueror, “My Lord?”

“Hmmm…?”

“Death is the most sever penalty for treason, is it not?” the Queen asked.

The Conqueror smiled for she understood the meaning and the reason for the Queen’s question.

“It is, my Lady.”

***

“The Lord Conqueror and her Majesty the Queen,” the ceremony master announced as the Conqueror and the Queen entered the Great Hall.

As the Conqueror and the Queen made their way to their thrones, all present in the Great Hall bowed before them until they reached their destination and seated themselves.

“Noblemen and Ladies of the Realm,” the Conqueror exclaimed, “We have summoned you all here due to a grave matter which has come to our attention and requires further investigation.”

The noblemen and the ladies of the Realm began to look at one another agitatedly to see if anyone had any idea as to what the Conqueror was referring to.

“Lady Messalina,” the Queen called.

Lady Messalina approached the thrones. “Your Majesties,” she said and bowed before them.

As she stood before them, the Conqueror leaned over and whispered something in the Queen’s ear.

“Lady Messalina, is it not true that just before noon on the day of my Lord’s return from Cyra, you informed me that a young lass had been seen entering the Imperial tent?”

Lady Messalina’s blood drained from her face and she grew as pale as a sheet. “It is true, your Majesty,” she admitted.

“And how did you come by this bit of information?” the Queen inquired further.

“I… I can’t remember, your Majesty,” replied the nervous lady.

“Is it not true, that the lass in question is your very own daughter?”

Lady Messalina nearly fainted. The crowd around her gasped in surprise and walked backwards away from her, as if trying to disassociate themselves from her.

“It is, your Majesty.” At this stage, lady Messalina had already realized there was no point in lying.

“Was it not your intention to cause dispute between my Lord and myself?”

Lady Messalina threw herself at the Queen’s feet and began kissing them.

“You will stand up,” the Queen ordered and her assertiveness gave pause to her subjects.

Lady Messalina rose back to her feet.

“You will answer the question.”

“I will your Majesty,” Lady Messalina replied.

“Did you act on your own volition?”

“No, your Majesty.”

“Who put you up to this?” asked the Queen.

“Please, your gracious Majesty, I beg you please don’t make me…”

“Nobleman Verosus and Nobleman Marton!” the Conqueror exclaimed.

Both men made their way through the crowd, mortified, joined their accomplice and bowed before the thrones.

“What have you got to say for yourselves?” the Conqueror’s voice was ominous.

“With all due respect, your Majesty, we don’t understand… the Lady hasn’t named us,” Nobleman Marton replied.

“Indeed not, but when her Majesty the Queen asked the question, Lady Messalina threw a glance at the two of you,” said the Conqueror. “That confirmed my suspicions.”

Noblemen Marton and Verosus confessed to the specifics of their scheme for all to hear by orders of the Conqueror, without trying to cast responsibility at one another and minimizing their own involvement in the traitorous conspiracy.

“Is my Lady prepared to render her verdict in the matter of Lady Messalina?” the Conqueror asked.

“I am, my Lord,” the Queen replied.

“Lady Messalina, you have handled yourself poorly and reprehensibly. Being a Queen’s lady in waiting is a sacred duty. It has been proven to my satisfaction that you have betrayed that duty and my trust. You have been disloyal to me and disloyal to my Lord and to the Realm. You’ve tried by despicable means to come between my Lord and myself. This offense I cannot and will not pardon. However, I am satisfied that there are mitigating circumstances since you were extorted. Desperation deprives some of rational thought and behooves them to take desperate measures. Therefore, it is my verdict that you should be stripped of your station and be banished from the Realm forthwith for my Lord’s pleasure.” The Queen voice was steady, firm and confident.

“Noblemen Marton and Verosus, greed and malice are no defense against treason. Your actions solicited, financed and facilitated an act of rebellion against us and against this Realm, which resulted in the death of several subjects and warriors of the Realm. Moreover, you have extorted her Majesty the Queen’s lady in waiting and exploited her innocent daughter. You and your families will be stripped of your station and possessions. Marton and Verosus, you shall suffer a quick death in three days time. As for Macedonia , I hereby appoint Lila of Potidaea as the new governor to Macedonia and a Lady of this Realm. As for Philippi, I hereby appoint her Majesty the Queen’s lady in waiting, Satrina, as the new governor to Philippi, if it pleases you, your Majesty,” the Conqueror asked the Queen.

“It does, my gracious Lord,” smiled the Queen.

As the guards came to remove the condemned men from the Great Hall, Lady Satrina scurried to bow before the Conqueror and the Queen.

“Your Majesties, I cannot thank you enough for your infinite kindness, honor and generosity your Majesties have shown me, and I am grateful with all my heart and soul for the great trust you place in me, but I pray you, if I may,” she said and her excitement was evident in her voice.

“You may,” granted the Queen.

“With your Majesties’ permission, and if it pleases you, I wish to remain in her Majesty the Queen’s presence and service for I am so very contented and happy with my life here in the palace,” she said. “I could not have hoped to serve a kinder, nobler Sovereign than our benevolent Queen.”

The Queen glanced over at the Conqueror with questioning eyes and the Conqueror, who was the one who first granted the honor, nodded her consent. Their subjects could not help but notice the silent exchange between them.

“As you wish, Lady Satrina and thank you,” the Queen said and did her best to remain formal and regal and not let her own excitement be known in the forum.

“Captain Cornelius of the Imperial Guard,” announced the ceremony master.

The Queen wasn’t familiar with the name.

With wide determined strides, fitting a military man, Captain Cornelius approached the thrones and bowed before his Rulers.

“Your Majesties,” he greeted.

It was then that the Queen recognized whom he was and fought an urge to move uncomfortably on her throne.

“With your permission, your Majesty,” he humbly said and turned his attention to the Queen.

“Granted,” said the Queen.

“I come before your gracious Majesty, a humble servant, to beg for forgiveness. In the past your Majesty showed me great kindness and granted excellent remedy, which I, I am ashamed to say, repaid with gross disrespect.”

He chose this grand forum to offer his genuine remorse, rather than offer his apologies in private. In his mind, since he disrespected the Queen in the presence of the healer and others in the infirmary, it was only just that he should surrender his pride to the Queen in public.

He was also careful not to divulge any specifics of his transgression, including the fact that he was referring to the times back when the Queen had been a slave, so as not to cause the Queen either discomfort or embarrassment.

“I am sorry to say, I was foolish and a proud brute and I know in my heart I am not worthy of your Majesty’s pardon. I assure your Majesty that as a result of your Majesty’s dignity, generosity and supreme conduct towards me, which I didn’t deserve I have mended my ways. I submit myself before you, your Majesty to punish as your Majesty deems fit,” he said and knelt before the Queen.

“Stand up, Captain,” she ordered and he obeyed.

“Your past misdeeds towards me are pardoned,” the Queen said, then covered her mouth and whispered a private question in her Lord’s ear, to which the latter nodded her agreement.

“You have exhibited candor and great honor, which leads me to believe your repentance is true and sincere. I hereby appoint you a nobleman to the Realm and a governor to Philippi ,” the Queen said.

He lowered his head in humility and thanked his Queen for the bounty she had bestowed upon him.

“That concludes our business here today, Nobleman and Ladies of the Realm,” the Conqueror stated, stood up and offered her arm to assist her pregnant Queen to her feet.

Standing in front of their subjects, the Conqueror went on to say, “As I trust you all know, today I have shown great leniency towards Marton and Verosus for their appalling treachery. By no means must you perceive it as any form of a precedent. I shall see no further division in this Realm.”

As the Queen and her Lord made their way out of the Great Hall, their subjects bowed before them then began clapping their hands and chanting, ” Hail to the Queen. ”

Whilst strolling along the corridor that led to the Imperial chambers, the curious Queen asked, “How did my Lord know that the lass in Cyra was Messalina’s daughter?”

“They have the same shade of hair color and the shape of their eyes and chins are exactly alike,” the Conqueror explicated.

Alone in the privacy of their chambers, the Conqueror turned to her Queen took her small hands in hers and said with bright eyes, “I am so very proud of you, my Lady,” and adorned the thin fingers with tender kisses.

***

After three days had passed, Marton and Verosus were brought to the gallows upon a wagon, which resembled one that was fit to carry small livestock. In the square stood a large crowd, as with any execution. The Conqueror always believed that even regular people, non-warriors were fascinated by death and were curious to see life as it was leaving the body. If someone else did the actual killing, then all the better.

Heavily guarded, the two men were escorted up the podium to face their Ruler and executioner. Verosus’s neck was first to be stretched out and presented before the Conqueror.

As he was waiting, trembling on his knees and mumbling unintelligible words, the Conqueror unsheathed her sword, which was resting over her chiseled thigh in a leather scabbard. The polished, long and well-whetted blade caught the sun’s rays.

The crowed cursed at the condemned men and cheered for their Sovereign, goading her on. It wasn’t a novelty. The Conqueror knew that once she would lay the deadly strike, the cheers and the cursing would halt.

With one strike, the Conqueror put an end to his mumbling, and his severed head rolled over the floor of the podium, which was covered with sawdust to absorb the spilt blood, and his headless corpse slumped to the ground next to it.

Then came Marton’s turn. Before he was shoved down to his knees by the guards and into his accomplice’s pool of freshly spilt blood, the Conqueror leaned slightly towards him and whispered into his ear: “You do realize this is not retribution for some silly, inconsequential rebellion, which could have been handled quickly by a single battalion of my forces. This is mainly for trying to come between me and my Queen.”

His shocked expression was still frozen on his face when the Conqueror removed his head from his shoulders.

As the Conqueror wiped the blood off her sword and looked at Marton’s head next to her boots, her mind strayed back to another execution which she had performed, the one of the British Captain, who had raped and killed some body slave, whose name the Conqueror couldn’t even remember now.

Before she had sent him to his death, the Conqueror had desired to make it perfectly clear to the Captain the true and exact reason for his chastisement. When he had extended his head forward before her, whilst on his knees, she’d hissed at him, “This is for putting your filthy hands on what’s mine. The slave you’ve raped and killed was just an excuse.”
Part 20
The Conqueror was sitting in a strategy meeting with some of her noblemen and governors to the former kingdom of Persia, which had been divided soon after its fall to several smaller provinces of the Realm, when a servant burst into the War Hall blushed and sweaty and short of breath.

“Is it time?” the Conqueror asked and darted out of her seat.

The servant tried to catch his breath while bowing before his Master.

“Speak!” the Conqueror shouted at him.

“It is time, your Majesty. Her Majesty the Queen went into labor a few moments ago. She is in her own bedchamber.”

With widest fastest strides the Conqueror ran out of the Hall and made her way to the Queen’s chambers. The servant was running behind her, failing to catch up with his Master.

“Send for the healers and midwife and Lady Lila and my mother.”

“It has already been done. All are with the Queen, with accordance to her Majesty’s orders,” he rasped.

“The Queen’s ladies in waiting?”

“Are all in the Queen’s chambers,” he answered.
“The Lord Conqueror,” called Lady Satrina as the Conqueror opened the Queen’s chambers doors and blew threw them like a tempest.

All present bowed before her, but the Conqueror did not acknowledge them and made her way straight to the Queen’s bedchamber.

The Imperial healer emerged from the Queen’s bedchamber just as the Conqueror reached it, and quickly shut it behind him.

“I wish to see her,” the Conqueror said, and fixated her eyes on the closed door to the Queen’s bedchamber.

“I pray you, Majesty…the Queen is in good hands. Lady Lila and your Majesty’s mother along with the Chinese healer and a midwife are all in there. Best if all others remain outside in order to keep possible peril to a minimum,” he said.

The Conqueror didn’t move away from the closed door.

“Please, Majesty it is for the Queen’s own good. It is going to take a while,” he pleaded.

“It was the Queen’s request that your Majesty will not be present, so to spare your Majesty any discomfort,” Lady Satrina intervened.

The Conqueror finally removed herself away from the door. The Imperial healer and lady Satrina thanked their Sovereign and went back inside.

As the Conqueror was pacing anxiously back and forth in front of the shut door, she could hear her Queen’s strained screams of pain and agony. She could hardly bear it. They pierced her heart and she didn’t expect them to. During years on countless battlefields she had heard the terrible beauty of the music of war and it had done nothing but spur her on. At that moment it horrified her, and she wished she could suffer the pain in her Queen’s stead.

Candle-marks had elapsed and darkness descended. The Queen’s ladies in waiting lit up fire in the oil lanterns in various places around her chambers for light. From the other side of the door, the Queen’s cries and screams began to weaken and fade into small sporadic yelps and uneasiness crept into the Conqueror’s heart.

“Perhaps your Majesty might consider some supper and retiring for some rest. It might take a while longer,” one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting suggested and handed the Conqueror some fresh water to drink.

“I am not going anywhere,” the Conqueror sternly retorted and kept her arms folded over her chest.

Close to dawn, after sixteen long nerve wrecking candle-marks, the healthy cries of an infant originated from the Queen’s bedchamber, much to the Conqueror’s boundless relief.
The door was finally opened and the healers and midwife came out of the Queen’s bedchamber to speak with the Conqueror. They looked at one another nervously, as if trying to convince the other to speak.

“Out with it!” the Conqueror commanded.

“We beg your Majesty for forgiveness, there were some complications. The Queen has lost too much blood. There is nothing more we can do for her Majesty at the present,” informed the Imperial healer.

The Conqueror’s face was frozen. “I want to see her,” she said with a dangerously low voice.

“Pardon, Majesty but it is best if you waited awhile, the Queen is not presentable at this moment,” said the Chinese healer.

“Out of my way,” she shoved both men and burst into the Queen’s bedchamber.

Years on the battlefield had not prepared her for what she saw.

The Queen’s nether region was exposed and mangled and bloodied. There was blood and other fluids along with other remnants of birth sprayed in abundance all over the bed and even some small pooling on the floor surrounding it. The Queen lay unmoving. Her limbs appeared limp and lifeless. Small beads of sweat covered her skin. Her eyes were closed and her complexion seemed whiter than the sheets beneath her. It was the picture of carnage.

After countless battles, the Conqueror had seen every imaginable aspect of the atrocities of war. She had seen people decapitated, burned alive. She had witnessed dismembered limbs, guts and other internal organs being splattered over the ground. She had seen rivers of blood soaking the sand. She caused these mortal wounds more times than she could count. It never had any effect on her, other than stoking the fire in her blood, making her thirsty for more, more blood, more power and more lust.

That morning, when she saw the Queen in her present condition, the Conqueror put one hand over her mouth and the other over her stomach and she began to retch uncontrollably.

The Lord of the Realm was beyond livid, but her eyes were frozen and her mannerisms appeared almost calm as she closed her hand around the Imperial healer’s neck, and squeezed. She looked like a child tearing the wings off a butterfly. “What have you done to her, you butcher?!” she hissed as she looked into his petrified eyes.

Her chokehold around his neck prevented him from issuing any sounds other than a few unintelligible syllables.

Cyrene , Lady Satrina and the Chinese healer all rushed to the Conqueror and tried to release the elderly healer from her clutch.

“Please, Majesty, he did all that could possibly have been done,” the Chinese healer beseeched her, till she finally released her grip.

“Get out of here! All of you leave!” the Conqueror’s roars struck terror in them and they ran as quickly as their legs could carry them, nearly trampling over one another on their way out.

The Conqueror shifted her attention to Lady Lila, who was lying on the other side of the Queen’s bed next to the screaming newborn. “Take that thing out of my sight!” she ordered the Queen’s sister and pointed at the helpless infant.

Lady Lila covered the tiny shivering body with a clean cloth, lifted the newborn off the bed and fled outside, while cradling the precious bundle in her protective arms.

“Please, your Majesty… for the sake of your daughter…” Cyrene tried to appease the dark Lord, and already began to pity her grandchild.

“LEAVE!”

And with that, Cyrene left and closed the door behind her, leaving the Conqueror and the Queen alone in the bedchamber.
The Conqueror looked at her wife.

“Open your eyes now!” the Conqueror ordered and glared at her wife’s hooded eyes, as if expecting them to flutter open by her command.

“You will not leave me,” she declared firmly. “I order you to stay with me and you will do as I command for I am your Lord. Do you hear me?”

No response came.

“You will obey me as you’ve always obeyed me!” She demanded but to no avail.

The Conqueror opened the large window and allowed the fresh morning air to invade the Queen’s stale bedchamber. She then approached the Queen’s bed and lifted the Queen’s flaccid body and cradled her in her arms. She walked back to the open window and gazed outside then returned her eyes back to the Queen embraced in her arms.

“You can see the lily pond from here,” she said with a voice corroded with bitterness, “When I had these chambers prepared for you, I specifically instructed the builders that your bedchamber should overlook the lily pond, for I knew how much you adored it,” the Conqueror’s voice trembled. As her eyes strayed from the Queen’s face to the view outside, she heard the tranquil sounds for the water dribbling in the fountain in the middle of the pond. The Conqueror couldn’t fathom how it could feel so serene outside when she felt such turmoil inside. “Yet you have never spent a single night in here, but constantly have chosen to share a bed with me instead.”

The Conqueror laid her wife on top a small cot at the corner of the chamber. She then pulled off the soiled sheets from the Queen’s bed and replaced them with clean linens, after she had soaked the blood from the mattress. She placed a copper-made caldron filled with fresh water over the fire burning in the hearth. Next, she spread a thick sheet on top of the bed and carefully laid her unconscious spouse over it. She took her dagger out of her boot and cut open the Queen’s dress, freeing her from the confinement, and threw it away along with the filthy sheets she had discarded.

When the water was warm enough, she dipped a clean towel in the water and gently washed her wife’s body. She moved the damp cloth attentively over her wife’s face, then dipped it back into the water to clean it. Then she went on to wash her hands, under her armpits, her slack and still swollen belly. She absorbed the milk dripping from the Queen’s breasts.

The Conqueror moved to sit between her wife’s legs and wiped the clotting blood away from her bruised womanhood. When it was clean, she closely inspected the area. She saw that an incision was made to widen the opening and that the incision was later sown with small neat and precise stitches. It was evident that the perfect stitches had been made by a skillful hand, and it appeared to the Conqueror not as awful as it had seemed to her initially.

When the Queen’s body was clean, the Conqueror took out a chiffon gown and gently dressed her wife in it. As she lowered the light fabric down the Queen’s back, she looked at the mark she had branded into her wife’s delicate shoulder blade. She traced her insignia with feather-like touches. She suddenly regretted causing her wife such tremendous pain and disfigurement.

The Conqueror lightly stroked the Queen’s golden-hair and waited for her to open her eyes, but the Queen’s breath became ever shallower to the point where the Conqueror could hardly discern the heaving of her Queen’s chest, and so she brought a burning candle to her nostrils in order to see whether the Queen was breathing still.

Meanwhile, in the Queen’s chambers were waiting Cyrene , Lady Lila and the Queen’s ladies in waiting, along with the healers. None dared enter the Queen’s bedchamber.

The little princess was handed over to a wet nurse for breastfeeding.

“The child needs to bond with her mother,” Lady Lila said.

“Apparently the Queen hasn’t regained consciousness,” commented the Chinese healer.

“She will most likely not come out of it alive,” the Imperial healer stated gravely.

“May the Gods help us all if she won’t,” Cyrene shook her head and a shiver ran down her spine.

“I have kept the Realm’s noblemen apprised of the current situation,” said Lady Aufidia, one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting.

“Why on earth would you do that?” asked Lady Satrina and kept her voice down so as not to disturb the Conqueror and the Queen over on the other side of the door, though she felt angry enough to slap her fellow lady square across her silly face.

“The Conqueror is indisposed, the Queen is dying and the Princess is too young. No one is currently ruling the Realm.”

“You should have waited a while longer rather than let the vultures circling outside know,” Lady Satrina admonished her.

“I am so very sorry… I wasn’t thinking,” said Lady Aufidia, but none paid much attention to her.

“You may leave for the night. Lady Cyrene and I will remain here and let you know if we need any help,” said Lady Satrina as she looked at Cyrene , who nodded her mute consent to the arrangement suggested.

“I will look after the Princess,” offered Lady Lila.

“Thank you, dear Lila,” smiled Cyrene .

As time passed and it became dark outside again, the Conqueror realized that the longer the Queen remained unconscious, the slimmer her chances of ever pulling through. The Conqueror’s heart constricted in her chest, and it hammered wildly. It was then that she felt this agonizing feeling, one she had never before experienced in her entire life. It was fear, not just fear but complete and utter terror at the thought that she in all likelihood would lose her wife.

The Conqueror knelt at her wife’s bedside and took her pale limp hand in hers and brought it to her lips.

“I call on you, Athena,” she said defeated, her proud shoulders slumped in resignation, and looked down upon her precious Gabrielle. “She is the milk of human kindness. She represents all that is good, and honest and innocent in this world. She is modest and noble and virtuous of all women. Without her my life is a cold, bleak and lonely wasteland. She is a light to my darkness. She is the light of all lights. I beg of you, heal her. My child needs her mother… and I need my Queen.” The Conqueror then did something else she never had to do before. She fought back tears, but lost.

Sometime during the moonless night, the Conqueror, still on her knees at her wife’s bedside, rested her head over the motionless Queen and succumbed to a light, troubled slumber.

It only lasted a couple of short candle-marks, for at daybreak she felt small fingers playing with a tress of hair that covered her forehead.

She opened her cobalt, bloodshot eyes and saw her Queen faintly smiling at her.

“You seemed so exhausted, my Lord, I thought it best to let you rest a while longer,” Gabrielle said with a weak yet cheerful voice.

“Gabrielle,” was all the Conqueror could manage. To her it felt like her heart could start beating again. She cupped her wife’s face and placed a lingering kiss over a pale cheek.

“May I hold our daughter, my Lord? Her cries were the last thing I heard before…”

“Right away, my precious Gabrielle,” the Conqueror smiled a brilliant smile. She couldn’t disengage her gaze from her fragile wife. Eventually, she rose to her feet, which felt numb from kneeling throughout the night.

She washed her face in the basin, combed her disheveled hair with her fingers and tidied up her regalia. Once fully composed, she opened the door and met with Cyrene and lady Satrina.

“The Queen asks our child be brought to her,” she was glad to inform Cyrene .

The elderly woman jumped up and down with mirth, and lady Satrina let out a deep sigh of relief. Both women knew that a grand catastrophe had been averted.

“Satrina, have some chicken broth brought to the Queen.” The Conqueror’s words sounded more like a request than an order.

” Right away, your Majesty,” a nervous lark escaped her mouth, signaling the Conqueror just how frightened and anxious the lady had been.

The Conqueror returned to her wife’s bed and sat next to her.

“You gave us quite a scare, my Lady,” the Conqueror commented.

“My Lord fears nothing,” the Queen chuckled, but the Conqueror didn’t.

A knock on the door robbed the Royal couple of some much-needed privacy. Lady Lila, Cyrene and Lady Satrina, along with both healers, entered the Queen’s bedchamber, bowed respectfully and murmured “Majesties.”

The joy across their faces was clear.

Lady Lila handed the sleeping newborn over to the Conqueror, who studied her face carefully for the first time.

Lady Satrina placed a bowl of some warm chicken broth and freshly baked bread on the Queen’s nightstand.

Both healers examined the Queen.

“How are you feeling, Majesty?” asked the Chinese healer.

“Slightly weak but well,” answered the courageous Queen. She refused to admit she was in pain in her Lord’s presence.

“You should apply this salve on the…gash, stay off your feet and do not strain yourself, your Majesty,” said the Imperial healer. “Congratulations,” he offered sincerely to the young Queen he had grown to cherish as his own daughter.

“Thank you,” she smiled then turned to the Chinese healer and thanked him as well for all he had done for her. “Please thank your dear Mistress, Princess Lao-Ling, for giving me the benefit of your excellent service to me and kindly inform her that she has a beautiful new niece,” she said.

“Princess Lao-Ling will be most pleased, Majesty,” he bowed and left with the Imperial healer and the other three women.

Alone again, the Queen gazed upon her mighty warrior Lord, the Destroyer of Nations, holding their tiny frail child that they created together, and she felt her heart being flooded with so much love it could have drenched a desert. At that moment she didn’t believe it was possible to feel greater love or better happiness.

The Conqueror carefully laid the newborn in her mother’s arms. The Queen cradled her daughter and tears of bliss and happiness traveled down her face.

As if sensing her birth mother, the infant opened her eyes and revealed a familiar shade of blue.

“She has your beautiful mesmerizing eyes, my Lord,” the Queen couldn’t stop smiling.

The Conqueror moved a single gentle finger on the golden down adorning the newborn’s head. “And your magnificent golden hair, my Lady, which always reminds me of the fields of wheat shimmering in the sun where I grew up,” she quietly commented.

“The midwife said she had never delivered such a lengthy infant before, so I venture to say she inherited my Lord’s height as well,” the Queen chuckled, “Girls and boys in the Realm won’t stand a prayer.”

The Conqueror laughed and felt the last lingering fragments of tension ebbing away.

“What should we name her?” asked the Queen.

“Athena,” came the Conqueror’s quick reply, “Do you have another name in mind?”

“I wish to name her ‘Xena’ after my Lord,” the Queen replied. She adored the way her Lord’s name rolled over her tongue and she savored the feeling, for she had never spoken it before, not even dared whisper it in private with only the walls around her as her audience.

Upon hearing her name being spoken softly and adoringly by the Queen, the Conqueror’s heart swelled so, that she believed it was pressing against her ribs and was about to violently burst through her ribcage.

“I have never heard my name come from your lips, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror pointed out.

“And how do you like it, my Lord?” the Queen asked while she bared her breast and nursed her daughter, sensing a soft wee hand touching her breast.

The Conqueror observed her wife’s nipple disappearing into her daughter’s mouth. “I adore it, my sweet Gabrielle,” she answered.

“I shan’t wear it out, my Lord,” the Queen pledged.

“Xena Athena, it is then,” the Conqueror concluded.

However, in later years, as the child would grow up, subjects of the Realm would refer to her by nothing other than ‘Your Grace,’ the Conqueror would call her ‘Athena’ because it sounded strange to her ears to call her daughter by her own given name and the Queen would call her ‘Athena’ out of reverence to her Lord.
Part 21
The next day, the Conqueror carried her wife, who held their daughter in her arms, back to the Imperial chambers. A chamber close to the Imperial chambers had been prepared and fully equipped for the little heir to the throne.
Karpa, the old steward hired the services of wet nurses, servants and a governess to attend the princess. It proved difficult for Gabrielle to abdicate her motherly responsibility to her child. She felt the severance of their bond like a deep cut into her own flesh. The loss staggered her. This was the first time and she rued it would not be the last.
“You are Queen,” the Conqueror reminded her.
“I understand, my Lord,” the Queen replied.
“And the child was born to rule.”
“I understand that as well. Would my Lord please grant me just a few more nights with our child in our bed?”
The Conqueror paused to consider her wife’s plea then decided, “There’s precious little I can deny you, my Lady.”
“Thank you, my gracious Lord,” the Queen whispered and her eyes never left her infant daughter. No matter how long a time she looked at her, it seemed that the Queen’s need to observe, study and marvel at their novel creation knew no satiation.
The Conqueror joined her wife in bed and took the infant into her arms.
“I can see you are still in pain, Madame,” the Conqueror pointed out when she saw a brief wrinkle of agony crossing her wife’s features.
“It will pass, my Lord,” the Queen dismissed, but the Conqueror wouldn’t let it alone. She sent for one of the nurses to attend to the child, and when she was left alone with her Queen, she pulled up her wife’s nightgown, removed her undergarments and examined her wife’s nether region.
She then took the salve the healer had given her and gently applied it to the scathed area with her fingertips.
“It’s been a while,” the Queen suggested longingly, when she felt her Lord’s touch against her most intimate organ.
“All the more reason for us to restore your health as quickly as possible, my little vixen,” the Conqueror replied with a wily and aroused look in her eyes.
The Queen opened her nightstand’s drawer and took out her collar and fastened it back around her right thigh. “Just as my water broke, I removed it.”
“You did well not to allow your subjects to discover it,” the Conqueror was pleased. She began to nuzzle and nibble the Queen’s creamy inner thighs and occasionally laid tender kisses on the apex of the Queen’s womanhood. The Queen’s unique scent of arousal hit her nostrils, and generated desire in the Conqueror.
The Queen moaned and arched her back in a seductive, alluring invitation and began to knead her luscious breasts, until small trickles of white liquid oozed out of her nipples.
“Not until you recover, Majesty,” the Conqueror’s tongue slithered over the Queen’s belly till it reached its destination. The Conqueror closed her lips around her wife’s pebbled nipple and commenced a gently suckling, “Hmmm… you are simply tasty everywhere, my Queen,” she groaned in delight.
The Queen laughed. She reveled in the sensations of her nipple being engulfed by the warm cavern of her Lord’s mouth. Her breast being gently sucked and the warm motherly liquid being forced to stream out of her, tickling the tip.
“If you keep this up, my Lord, you shall doom your daughter to starvation,” the Queen jested and moaned equally.
“Let her latch her greedy little mouth around someone else’s nipples and suckle someone else’s breasts. These are mine.” The Conqueror, who was in an exceptionally good humor, cupped her wife’s breasts possessively to accentuate her point.
The Queen couldn’t harness her laughter, but the Conqueror’s lips did. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her Lord’s neck and lost herself as she drank her Lord’s deep smoldering kisses.
“When you are well enough, we shall celebrate,” the Conqueror determined when her lips departed from her Queen’s.
“I shall very much like that, my Lord,” the Queen replied.
The Conqueror rose from their bed.
“Must you leave me so soon, my Lion?”
“I have an Empire to manage, but I shall return to you as soon as I can, my precious Lady.”
When the Conqueror rested her hand over the door, she stopped and reached inside an inner pocket and retrieved a small ornamented wooden box. She returned to their bed and served it to her Queen. “A token of my profound gratitude,” she offered.
The Queen opened the box. Inside, she saw a marvelous broach, made of red gold incrusted with breathtaking rubies, cut and carved to perfection.
“Thank you. It is exquisite. My Lord has excellent taste and a good eye for pretty things,” she said and placed a quick kiss on her Lord’s lips.
“Don’t I?!” the Conqueror winked her eye and kissed her wife in return, “Be sure to keep off your feet,” the Conqueror reminded her as she turned and left.
***

“The Lord Conqueror and her Majesty the Queen,” the voice of the ceremony master announced.
All eyes in the Great Hall turned to the entrance. It had been a moon since the Queen had given birth and all were curios to catch a glimpse at the heir to the throne and their next Ruler.
The Conqueror, holding the small infant in her arms, and the Queen strode together. On their way to their thrones, their subjects either bowed or curtsied, and waited patiently for the Royal couple to take their seat.
The Conqueror rose to her feet and lifted the infant up in the air, “I present to you my heir and future Sovereign of the Realm, Princess Xena Athena,” she declared.
“Your Grace,” they bowed and curtsied before the small golden-haired child.
The Conqueror gently placed the infant in the Queen’s protective embrace, which remained seated on her throne. “Nobleman and Ladies of the Realm,” the Conqueror engrossed her subjects’ attention, “Princess Lao-Ling,” she stated then gestured languidly with her arm at the direction of mother and child, “My family!”
All nobility in attendance clapped their hands in their honor.
The Queen sent a sideway glance towards her Lord and saw her Lord’s chest expand and swell with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
In the Great Hall stood long tables that seemed to stretch forever, and on top of them stood large urns filled with wine, ale and mead. As if on cue, servants entered the Great Hall carrying large trays loaded with roasted lamb, vegetables and fruits of the sea.
“Enjoy the banquet and drink to your hearts’ content,” exclaimed the Conqueror as she seated herself on her throne.
There was a sense of relief and peace in the Great Hall that day. With the Conqueror declaring her heir and division in the Realm pacified, things seemed to be back on the right course.
Princess Lao-Ling approached the thrones. She curtsied before the Royal family and both the Queen and the Conqueror bowed their heads in respect.
“Congratulations, your Majesties,” she offered with a broad smile as the sparkle in her eyes showed her true heart.
“Thank you, dear Princess,” responded the Conqueror, “Your healer was a blessing.”
The Queen beckoned a nurse to take the child off her hands. She then turned to the princess of the house of Lao, “Sister,” she sighed, rose to her feet and embraced the oriental princess. “Words cannot express my deep gratitude for your generosity.”
“It was the least I could offer you, sister, and I feel privileged to be in the position to offer you any assistance I can provide. Now please allow me to gaze upon the Imperial jewel,” the princess smiled and the nurse holding the infant presented the small bundle and gently removed the blanket shielding her small features.
“She is definitely your daughter, Majesties,” Princess Lao-Ling smiled.
“Thank you, princess, and your generosity will not be forgotten. If ever you need any assistance which is within my power to give, you need only ask and you shall receive it,” the Conqueror said.
Lady Lila, accompanied by her husband and two children, approached the thrones as well to offer her formal congratulations, and she took the opportunity to thank the Conqueror again for bestowing upon her the great honor and privilege of being governess to Macedonia.
The Conqueror’s brother Toris, was next to approach the thrones.
“May her Grace bring you great pleasure and comfort, Majesties,” he blessed them with his eyes fixated on his feet.
“Raise your head, brother,” the Conqueror said without a vestige of order in her voice. “We are forever in your debt, and it would please us both if you’d be a devoted uncle to our daughter,” she said and gazed at her Queen.
“I will, your Majesty,” replied the older brother, and he realized that it was the Conqueror’s pleasure that he wouldn’t have any claim as the child’s father but rather an uncle to the princess.
As the banquet progressed, the Queen sauntered around the Great Hall, exchanging pleasantries with her subjects. From a distance, she spotted Captain Cornelius and she noticed him eyeing Lady Satrina, who was sitting by him at the table. From her vantage the Queen observed how he poured wine into the lady’s goblet, never letting it dry out, and kept her plate constantly filled with fish, which the lady had a special fondness for. The Queen smiled inwardly.
When the Queen returned back to her seat next to her Lord’s, she asked for the nurse to hand over her daughter. She could barely stand being away from the Lion’s cub. In spite of how others in the Realm might perceive her, in the Queen’s mind the child was simply her daughter, her own flesh and blood. One of the Queen’s greatest sorrows when she had first been sold into slavery was the fear that she would not experience motherhood. True, she had taken under consideration that being a body slave, ever constantly at the mercy of whoever owned her, she might give birth, as these were just the facts of life. But as she had soon learnt, the children that were the progeny of slaves were ripped from their mothers’ arms soon after birth and were sold into slavery as well.
And here she was now, Queen of the Realm, fiercely protected by her Lord, who was the most powerful individual in the world, and their child was of her Lord’s blood. Nothing and no one could ever touch them. Nothing could ever harm them, and nothing could ever keep them apart.
“You seem deep within your thoughts, sister.” The Queen heard Princess Lao-Ling voice pulling her back into the Great Hall.
“All happy thoughts, I assure you, sister,” replied the Queen.
“Perhaps you might wish to talk privately, with the Lord Conqueror’s permission?” the Princess asked and looked at the Conqueror, who downed her second goblet of wine, seeking her approval.
“Are the two of you conspiring against me, Ladies?” The Conqueror was in high spirits, but it wasn’t the wine. It was then the Queen realized she had never seen, in all their years together, the Conquer inebriated with intoxicants. It didn’t surprise her, though. The Conqueror was the epitome of control, not just of others but also of herself. She preferred and favored her mind sharp at all times, rather than addled and dull.
“Never, my gracious Lord,” the Queen smiled.
“Not at all, your Majesty,” the Princess chuckled.
“Well, go on then,” the Conqueror waved her hand at them.
The Queen and the Chinese sovereign walked together to sit at a secluded spot. They sat at one of the singular tables in one of the Great Hall’s corners.
The Queen looked down and gazed upon her slumbering daughter, wondering how she could sleep with all the commotion around her.
“I know you well enough, sister, not to inquire about your private affairs regarding your Lord,” the Princess began.
The Queen didn’t look up to meet Princess Lao-Ling’s eyes. She placed her forefinger into the infant’s hand, and tiny Athena quickly gripped it.
“My Lord has been kind and extremely attentive towards me, especially after I gave birth to our daughter,” the Queen said.
“It is no wonder, sweet sister, anyone with eyes in their heads can see how proud the Conqueror is of you and the little princess,” the Chinese monarch said.
“Indeed, sister,” theQueen replied.
“You have given the Lord Conqueror the heir she desired.”
“And I am very happy with my new role in life as a mother.”
“You have fulfilled your destiny and you are forever bonded with your Lord,” Princess Lao-Ling told the Queen.
“Is it true?”
“Every word of it,” the Princess reassured the Queen and watched as the Queen’s forest green eyes welled up with tears.
“Thank you, beloved sister.” The Queen finally managed and took hold of her overwhelming emotions. “Now, enough about me. Please tell me about yourself… has anyone conquered your heart yet?”
The Princess burst into laughter at the Queen’s interesting choice of words. “Dear sister, I can only wish for myself to feel such monumental love the way you feel towards your Lord.”
Both Royal women stood up. The Princess escorted mother and child back to the thrones, to the right side of the Conqueror.
“Thank you again, Lord Conqueror for your magnificent hospitality.”
“My deepest gratitude, Princess, for the devotion and kindness you have shown my Queen, and the great honor you have shown me,” the Conqueror slightly bowed her head in gratitude.
Near midnight, after their guests gradually left the Great Hall, the Conqueror and the Queen, still holding their precious daughter, sauntered towards the Imperial Chambers.
As the Queen was about to enter their chambers, the Conqueror beckoned one of the nurses who walked a few paces behind them to approach.
“Take the child to her nursery,” she ordered.
The nurse took the infant, whom the Queen reluctantly handed over to her.
The Queen issued no objection in front of the servant and saved her reservation until she and her Lord were alone in their bedchamber.
And once in their bedchamber, the Queen turned to her Lord and pleaded, “My Lord, can’t our daughter sleep with us tonight?”
“It won’t do to spoil her, and I forbid it. She must sleep in her own bed, in her own chamber,” the Conqueror was firm but not harsh. Then her chiseled face softened a little. “Besides,” she continued, “I need you tonight, Gabrielle.” The Conqueror emphasized the word ‘I’.
The Queen melted upon hearing her Lord’s last sentence, and at once she felt famished and she hungered for her Lord’s subjugating touch. It only took one small statement of fact from her Lord to bring desire down upon her – desire, with her motherly duties seemed to be lying somewhat dormant as of late.
“I am ever willingly yours, my Lord,” the Queen whispered.
On their bed, the Queen spread her legs and gave access. She felt her right leg being lifted and placed over her Lord’s shoulder, and her Lord’s large, hard sex grinding against hers. The Conqueror suspended her weight on her arms, with her fists on each side of Gabrielle’s head.
The Queen watched her Lord’s arms stretch, her biceps bulging and flexing with the strain of her slow fluid movements against her.
The Conqueror was slow and patient with her wife that night.
“You will come with me…” the Conqueror commanded under her ragged breath, “Now!”
As a long overdue release overtook her, the Queen believed it was by her Lord’s sheer reigning voice that she had been brought so powerfully and shatteringly over the edge.
The Conqueror got off her Queen, stood up and turned to walk towards the pitcher of water standing on the nearby table.
It had been pleasurable, but something was amiss. It was a different play that the Queen sought after that night. With one hand she reached and grasped her Lord’s large, callused hand, and with the other, she opened her Lord’s nightstand drawer and took out her Lord’s harness, the phallus attached to the leather stripes.
“Please, my Lord… I won’t break…” the Queen meekly spoke as her Lord turned to stand facing her in all her naked glory.
The Queen extended her tongue and licked the thick confection of their mixed nectars of spent desire off the Conqueror’s strong thighs, standing in front of her like twin pillars.
She felt her Lord’s dictatorial fingers barrowing into her scalp and her tight fist around a few strands of her golden hair then, her head being firmly and steadily guided to her Lord’s throbbing, cocked and erect knob of flesh.
The sensation of taking her Lord’s stiff erection into her yearning warm mouth, to taste and smell her Lord’s carnal lust so condensed and purified, nearly made the Queen shiver with another climax. It made her taste buds come alert and her mouth water. Her entire senses were overloaded, and a fresh flux of fluids was seeping out of her and it formed a puddle on the sheets beneath her.
With her mouth so perfectly stuffed with her Lord, she began sucking and licking the hard yet tender flesh and marveled at its texture against her busy tongue. If she were to die right then, she thought, it would have been after experiencing the greatest pleasure this mortal existence had to offer.
She looked up and saw her Lord’s face high above her, looking down and fixated on her, sitting on the bed and poised between her strapping legs. The expression of pure, unadulterated pleasure was too great for words. Her eyes were dark, stormy and heavily hooded and her lips pursed. The Conqueror was the picture of focus on the sensations her Queen invoked in her.
The Queen felt her head being pressed harder against her Lord’s sex and her Lord’s loins being thrust harder against her face. She spread her palms over her Lord’s taut backside and reveled in the feeling of strong muscles breathing and constricting under the soft skin. She failed to notice her nails digging into and scratching the seemingly unbreakable flesh.
The Queen understood right away and pushed her upper lip into her Lord’s pulsating hardness and opened her mouth widely to absorb her Lord’s raging stream of release, easily hitting the back of her throat.
When the final grunt came out of her Lord, Gabrielle backed away and gingerly licked her lips, not wishing to lose a single drop of her Lord’s abundance.
The Queen buckled the harness around her Lord’s pelvis and turned, now standing on her knees over the Imperial bed. She grabbed hold of the bed’s headboard and braced herself.
“My hot deep cleft is crying for you. My insides are crying for you, my Lord. Please fill me as only you can,” she moaned and immediately felt her Lord’s weight pressing down against the bed behind her, her Lord’s probing fingers against her centre appeared to the Queen as though examining her readiness and wholesomeness, making sure she could withstand and contain the impending encroachment of her Lord’s full measure.
The Conqueror hadn’t penetrated her like this in moons, due to the Queen’s pregnancy and difficult childbirth. The gentle, unselfish gesture touched Gabrielle.
With the Queen’s head drooped between her shoulders as preparation, the Conqueror held her neck with one hand, and soon after, the thick long shaft slowly slid inside her, then withdrew just as slowly. The Conqueror reined in her imperious desire.
The Queen craved to be taken roughly to her very core. She desired a rattling deliverance. She danced against her Lord, spurring and stimulating her to increase her pace.
“I feel your need thumping at my wet opening, my Lord…” the Queen sighed loudly, “It is so big and hard, my Lord…”
The Conqueror tightened her grip around the Queen’s neck in instinct, and ushered her phallus back into the Queen’s crevice. Firmly, the dark Lord rammed inside, pushing until her member was buried in the Queen’s womanhood.
The Queen wanted to roam her hands over the strong body that was fucking her from behind, but she couldn’t let go of the headboard. The Conqueror’s pounding was too powerful, and Gabrielle needed something to hold on to, to keep steady.
Their special bond was renewed and cemented by each of the Conqueror’s owning stabs into the Queen’s gushing slit.
“How I’ve missed you inside me, my Lord,” the Queen moaned.
Her fists around the headboard whitened as she took her Lord’s forceful jostles, skewering her flesh into submission. Her sex throbbed mercilessly with abandoned wantonness and sweet, delicious pain.
“It’s been long… Too long since last I’ve plowed you like this, hasn’t it?” the Conqueror savored every word like she could taste them.
Their bedchamber was encumbered with the odor of their bodily fluids and the sounds of two bodies slamming fiercely and rapidly against one another.
The Conqueror warned her Queen just before the roar began, and pinched her swollen nub. With her rotating pummeling, the dark Lord held tight to Gabrielle’s hips as thrusting spasms wracked their bodies and they came in hot spurts.
The Queen could still feel the Conqueror’s organ inside her even though the Conqueror had already pulled out of the tight canal.
The Conqueror’s mouth crashed onto Gabrielle’s, her tongue pushing roughly through to stroke inside her Queen’s mouth. Calloused hands raked almost brutally over Gabrielle’s bare body, and scraped against sensitive leaky nipples, while Gabrielle writhed beneath her.
“Thank you, my gracious Lord. I needed it,” the Queen, still heaving, whispered when the urgent explosion ended.
“We both needed it,” the Conqueror responded, and she felt Gabrielle’s petite hands searching for something between their entwined sweaty bodies.
The Conqueror chuckled.
“You like falling asleep with me still inside you, don’t you, my insatiable little minx?” the Conqueror asked, not in criticism but rather in fondness and gathered the smaller woman into her arms, until the Queen’s back connected with her chest.
The Queen nodded her head in approval, whilst her Lord’s arm pillowed her head.
The Conqueror led her rigid, still saturated length and inserted it back inside her tranquil Queen.
Part 22
As the years passed, the Princess grew, and from her very early years of life, it was apparent that she was bigger, taller and stronger than her peers, very much to the Conqueror’s satisfaction.

It seemed that the young royal tot was quick to learn everyone’s place in the grander scheme of things, including her own. Young Athena looked upon the Queen as her equal, but she was wise enough to recognize that the Conqueror wasn’t, but rather placed above her, very much the paramount of the world surrounding her.

From the very beginning, she would enjoy throwing the toys given to her by the Queen to the ground only to see the servants and nurses hurrying to bend down and pick them up for her. She took pleasure in watching their obedience before her and their addressing her by her honorific, ‘Your Grace.’

The Princess would demand certain clothes, foods or any other object for that matter to be brought to her, and she enjoyed watching all at her attendance scurrying around her like flies to meet with her orders and satisfy her every whim and demand, much to the Queen’s dismay.

The Queen considered it rude and reprehensible behavior, but the Conqueror dismissed her wife’s concerns, stating time and again, “She is to rule them all one day. Best if she practiced her power over them at this early stage and best if they learnt to obey her and make it their second nature to submit to her will.”

When young Athena sought after affection, warmth, comfort and tender spoiling, she knew to approach the Queen specifically to satisfy those needs.

And if it was a story she was after, then the Queen was by far the best storyteller to go to. It was always a story about a giant majestic lion that was wise and strong and a young girl with a golden hair. The lion befriended the young girl and protected her. The lion would always save the golden girl, even from three wolves at once. However, one time it was the golden girl who saved the lion from some mysterious illness. No matter what they faced, the girl from the Queen’s story would always offer love, friendship and comfort to the lion, and the lion loved the girl in return. The Queen called it ‘The Adventures of the Lion and the Golden Girl’ and the young Princess couldn’t hear enough of it.

The Conqueror provided little Athena with different things, altogether. She learned early on not to exhibit weakness or defiance in the Conqueror’s presence. It wasn’t that she had ever gotten any harsh reaction from the Conqueror in that regard; she simply sensed that the Conqueror wouldn’t tolerate it, and she was sentient and keen to the way her mother acted in the Conqueror’s presence.

As soon as the child was able to walk, the Conqueror often took her young daughter to strategy meetings with her advisors and military personal. She would flaunt her blessed, gifted and talented offspring arrogantly before her more distinguished guests, and as soon as her grip was strong enough, the Conqueror placed in it a small practicing sword she had had made for her.

“Isn’t she a bit young for swordplay, my Lord?” the Queen asked her Lord once.

“Not at all, Madame. I was her age when first I held a sword in my hand,” the Conqueror replied with a tone of voice that the Queen knew better than to argue with.

A vast hall near the armory was assigned for the sole purpose of practice, and the Conqueror made the time to tutor her young daughter in the art of sparring herself, and with other weapons other than a sword, as well. The Conqueror was beyond pleased and even relieved when she witnessed her child exhibiting uncanny, raw and natural talent in the area of martial arts.

The Conqueror allowed the Queen to observe their drillings from time to time, and the Queen quickly learned to fight off her maternal instincts whenever her daughter sustained a bruise during those sessions. She did adore, however, watching her Lord strictly yet patiently instruct their daughter and become inflated with smugness and conceit whenever their daughter succeeded and excelled in her trainings.

It was the Queen who taught young Athena to read and write. She had other tutors for Latin, arithmetic, philosophy and geography.

The Conqueror discouraged her young daughter from associating and mingling with the palace staff’s children and forbade her from playing or idly consorting with them. To the young child, that was the hardest demand the Conqueror had ever expected her to comply with.

“She is just a child, my gracious Lord,” the Queen would appeal to the Conqueror at the behest of their daughter. “She needs the company of other children her age,” she reasoned.

“What my daughter needs is what I deem she needs, Madame,” the Conqueror replied.

The Queen lowered her head. “Of course, my Lord,” she said in resignation, “I simply worry that she might be isolated.”

The Conqueror considered her wife’s expressed concern. “Very well. I shall summon some of the children of the Realm’s nobility to keep her company,” she said. “Would that satisfy you, my Lady?”

“It would, my charitable Lord. Of course we could always provide our firstborn with sisters and brothers of her own,” the Queen smiled softly.

But the Conqueror didn’t respond and the Queen didn’t press on the matter any further, thinking it was too soon perhaps.

Though the Conqueror maintained rigorous discipline, she showered her daughter with gifts and affection. She would lift up the small child in her strong arms and throw her up in the air and catch her back in her arms, eliciting a rolling, contagious sweet laughter out of the child’s mouth. The Conqueror would often take Athena riding with her. She would seat her daughter in the saddle in front of her and would secure her tightly in her arms as she rode, and Athena would clap her hands and throw her little arms in the air as the Conqueror would drive the animal faster, making the wind blow widely in their manes. It seemed like the young Princess didn’t know fear.

The Queen found it charming and adorable that the tiny fair-haired child appeared to have found her way into the Conqueror’s heart.

The Conqueror kept the promise she had made to her Queen and took her to inspect the hospice, which had been built in Macedonia as a birthday present from the Conqueror to her Queen, one that offered free healing services to the Realm’s destitute subjects.

The hospice exceeded the Queen’s expectations, and soon enough she pleaded with her Lord that others just like the one in Macedonia be built in each of the Realm’s provinces.

“It is quite a costly enterprise, my Lady,” the Conqueror said when she contemplated her Queen’s request.

“It would demonstrate my Lord’s great ability for compassion towards her loyal subjects,” the Queen contended.

“Hmmm…” the Conqueror didn’t sound convinced.

The Queen chose a different argument, which she suspected would be better accepted by her Lord. “My Lord, better health for your people will further strengthen and secure the Realm. Better health means fewer and better contained outbreaks of plagues, lower mortality rate, more able bodies to fight in your name, and fewer grievances…”

But the Conqueror didn’t let her finish, “Clever you, my Lady,” she muttered amused, “So be it.”

And thus, in a few short years hospices modeled after the one in Macedonia were built in each and every province in the Realm.

A few moons shy of the young Princess’ fourth summer, the Conqueror had informed the Queen that their daughter would soon be attending the military academy in Rome . The Queen was devastated upon hearing the grim news. She never anticipated that her beloved daughter would be ripped from her arms at such an early stage in her life. She hoped she would have a few more years with her, and she regretted all the pampering she had not yet done.

“ Rome is far away, my Lord. Aren’t there any military academies in Greece?” the Queen inquired, hoping against hope to reverse her Lord’s decision or at the very least influence her Lord into making modifications to it, though she already knew deep in her heart that the Conqueror never changed her mind.

“There are two academies in Greece , but the one in Rome is the best and the most prestigious. It has the best instructors and the most diverse and richest curriculum. All the Realm’s nobility are trying to have their children be accepted there. It would benefit our child the most. You do wish that our daughter would have the best education we can provide her with, don’t you?” the Conqueror asked, but when she detected a hint of grief in her wife’s eyes, she went on to say, “I give you my word that we shall visit with her as often as you wish, my Lady . I shall acquire a villa closest to the military academy so that we can visit her as many times as you desire.”

The Queen rose to stand on her toes and placed a kiss filled with gratitude against her Lord’s jaw.

“You’re welcome, my Lady,” the Conqueror smiled and shook her head at the Queen’s soft heart, which she knew only too well, that it was precisely that quality that endeared her wife to her so.

A night before Athena’s admission into the Roman Military Academy, which of course was only too delighted to receive such an esteemed student into their midst, the Queen spent the entire night shedding tears in the new villa the Conqueror had purchased in Rome.

In bed, the Conqueror took pity on her wife, and embraced the trembling body tightly against hers and soothed the weeping Queen throughout the night.

The next morning at first light the Conqueror and the Queen took the Princess and made their short journey to the Academy. They were received with a welcome befitting their station. Parents who had come to escort their children were very impressed when they learned that the Princess was attending the same institution as their own flesh and blood.

“Barely four years old, her Grace is the youngest ever to be admitted to the Academy,” the headmaster informed the Royal couple. “Your Majesties must be very proud .”

“Indeed we are, headmaster,” the Conqueror said.

The headmaster crouched next to the Princess, “Welcome to the Academy, your Grace,” he said.

“I’m honored to be here, headmaster,” the Princess replied politely.

“Athena, go ahead and join your classmates,” the Conqueror looked down at her daughter.

“Be safe and be on your best behavior, sweetheart,” the Queen tried to hide the tremor in her voice and released her grip from her daughter’s shoulders.

“Don’t worry, mother, I will,” Athena said.

The Queen wished to kiss her daughter goodbye one last time, but she opted against it so as not to cause any embarrassment either to her Lord, or to the Princess.

“Mind your tutors,” the Conqueror instructed her daughter.

“I will, your Majesty,” Athena promised.

“I expect you to excel in your studies.”

“ I will. Goodbye, your Majesty,” Athena waved her hand at the Conqueror.

“Make me proud,” the Conqueror called out after her, as she saw the young Princess turn on her heels, run into the Academy and disappear behind its large wooden doors.

“You needn’t worry, your Majesty,” the headmaster assured the Queen, “We’ll take good care of her Grace. Only students and faculty are allowed on Academy grounds, and the Lord Conqueror has increased security substantially.”

“Thank you, headmaster,” the Queen said.

“I will personally keep your Majesties well informed regarding her Grace’s progress and well-being as frequently as possible,” he tried to comfort the obviously distraught Queen and put her mind at ease.

“It would be greatly appreciated, headmaster. Thank you,” the Queen said, yet she was already missing her pride and joy.

As the Royal couple, accompanied by their entourage, made their way back to port, the Conqueror wrapped her arm around her Queen’s shoulders to console her, and didn’t begrudge the Queen her overt sentimentality.

When they boarded the fastest ship in the Imperial armada, the Conqueror took over command of the vessel. When the steering wheel was in the Conqueror’s hands, the Queen, who stood by her side, turned to her and asked, “Back to Corinth , my Lord?”

“Not yet, my Lady. Our first stop is Crete , the isle which I had given you to govern before we were married,” the Conqueror said and kept her gaze forward, fixated on the vast blue horizon. With their beloved daughter in the Roman Academy , the Conqueror wished to provide her Queen with a distraction, with an employment to keep her occupied, which she hoped would lessen or at least ease to some extent the Queen’s longing for her young child.

“That sounds very refreshing, my Lord,” the Queen tried to sound convincing, but she sounded less than exuberant, nevertheless.

“It might do you some good. Crete is currently governed by Nobleman Paterikis. I have allowed him to govern Crete thus far, due to our nuptials and the birth of our daughter, which has kept you, my Lady, quite engaged.”

The gentle rocking of the ship against the waves, and the salty breeze soothed the Queen, “Indeed, my Lord.”

The Conqueror noticed her Queen’s body gradually calming, which was the desired result of the voyage.

“I have ordered Nobleman Paterikis to relinquish his current position and I have granted him a lucrative province to govern instead of Crete , which is ample compensation, I assure you. Nevertheless, in spite of my specific orders he still remains in Crete .”

“Does he know we are on route to Crete , my Lord?” asked the Queen.

“He ought to. I had dispatched one tenth of my fleet to Crete before we left for Rome ,” the Conqueror replied as she steered the vessel starboard, and ordered her men to adjust the ship’s sails to the wind.

“Always prepared…” the Queen smiled.

“Always, my Lady,” her Lord confirmed.

“Has he given any reason as to his delay?”

“He gave some unconvincing excuses, which I refused to accept.”

“May I ask, my Lord, why not allow him to govern Crete in my name?” asked the Queen.

“He has grown too attached to the position and he might feel entitled and therefore unyielding. Nobleman Paterikis will not relinquish it,” the Conqueror explained. “You may appoint an administrator of your own choosing, who would know his place and accept your authority. Furthermore, it is my desire that the proceeds of your province after taxes to the Realm, would be saved in your very own exchequer. It is important to me that you shall have some fortune of your own.”

“My Lord’s generosity and wisdom are endless,” the Queen stated with gratitude. It wasn’t the prospect of riches that moved the Queen. It was her Lord’s evident concern and even care, she dared to hope, that did. If she had what she desired most of all her Lord, she would be contented to live as a beggar.

The winds were with them and the sea was benevolent and calm. The Queen remained on deck, close to the Conqueror as they sailed. She secretly derived great pleasure in watching her Lord commanding the ship’s crew. That pleasure soon transformed into sexual hunger. The Queen looked at her Lord and saw her magnificent, strong and lengthy body becoming wired with tension and vigilance; her cerulean eyes becoming darker and holding a lascivious look in them.

The Queen wondered whether her Lord’s sexual awakening was the result of sailing on the open sea or was it a reaction to her own arousal.

Modestly, the docile Queen placed her hand over her right thigh, where the leather collar had been fastened around like a garter; the leather collar, which over the years had symbolized for them some aspects, the idiosyncrasy of their relationship, such as it was. It was the Queen’s subtle way of indicating to her Lord her desire to service.

A cursory, devilish half smile on the Conqueror’s lips informed the Queen that her mute message was received, loud and clear.

The Conqueror beckoned the secondary commander to grab hold of the steering wheel. She then placed a gentle hand under the Queen’s elbow, prompting her to join her in a private area near the ship’s stern, away from prying eyes.

“Nothing would please me more than to take you downstairs and ravage your body…” the Conqueror whispered and traced the Queen’s lips with her fingertip.

“But I am Queen, and what would my Lord’s men think if my Lord were to take me down below and make me scream…” the Queen finished her Lord’s sentence.

“If they see me abandoning my post and leading you downstairs, they will know the reason,” the Conqueror said. She knew it to be true, for her men had seen her doing it in the past and the noises that had emanated from her cabin had left little room for error.

The Queen encompassed her Lord’s caressing hand with her petite hands, parted her lips and led her Lord’s finger into the warm cavern of her mouth. She then slowly and sensually sucked her Lord’s forefinger and moved her tongue along its length, never breaking eye contact with the Conqueror.

The Queen saw the Conqueror’s eyes narrow and her breath come out quick and shallow.

The heat radiating from the Conqueror’s body surpassed that of the shining sun, and she placed her other hand over the railing. The sight of her Queen’s head moving forwards and backwards over her finger, with her golden hair shimmering in the sun, was almost the Conqueror’s undoing.

“You are a wicked, wicked wife,” the Conqueror scolded the Queen. Her voice was amused yet husky with want she was clearly straining to master. She stepped forward and closed the short gap between the Queen’s body and her own, till the massive bulge of her crotch pressed blatantly against the Queen’s stomach.

The Queen suppressed a moan. She removed one hand away from the Conqueror’s and hastily reached for the Conqueror’s leather trousers. She unbuttoned the dark garment and drew out her Lord’s hefty and intruding cock.

Never neglecting her vigorous sucking on her Lord’s finger, the Queen brought her palm to the Conqueror’s mouth.

The Conqueror understood the gesture. She licked her Queen’s palm and delivered as much of her saliva as she could possibly gather for moisture.

The Queen didn’t delay any further. She returned her wet palm and closed it tightly around her Lord’s pushy member. She began to slide her gripping hand along the length of the tool that ruled her, delivering long steady strokes, pressing the base of the shaft hard against her Lord’s raw and aching need.

“Keep sucking me.”

With her finger still deep in the Queen’s mouth and throat, along with the urgent beats of her shaft to her sex, the sensation of the moist tender flesh surrounding her finger made the Conqueror feel as though her shaft was made flesh – a meaty extension of her sex and that it was her own flesh that was sucked so keenly by the Queen’s sweet hot mouth.

“The things you do to me…make me want to come so hard.”

The Conqueror’s voice was rusty with lust and drove the Queen wild with scathing desire. She was soaking wet between her thighs and the familiar throbs of her clit were insufferable. She felt her sex canal strongly contracting and painfully sucking on emptiness, it nearly caused her to cry tears.

“Suck me harder,” the Conqueror urged her.

The Queen increased the suction as was demanded.

“I will come inside your little mouth. I will irrigate your beautiful deep throat.” the Conqueror prepared her, “and I order you to come with me.”

With eyes shut tightly and reticent shivers through their gratified bodies, the Conqueror and the Queen suffered their rapture in silence, not wishing to be overheard by the men on board.

The Conqueror extracted her finger out of the Queen’s mouth, tucked her member back inside her leather trousers, which were now soiled by the stains of her lust.

“Are you satisfied, my naughty little wife?!”

The Queen’s lips curled upwards into an amused and wily smile, “For now, my Lord, ” she replied, “and I wish to remind you, that it was you, my Lord that taught me once that all warfare is based on trickery .”

The Conqueror mirrored her wife’s smile. “Serves me right to teach battle strategies to a clever woman, once our business in Crete is concluded, we shall make another stop on our journey before returning to Corinth .”

The Queen felt the beginning of exuberance forming in the pit of her stomach. “Where, my Lord?” she asked.

“It’s a surprise,” the Conqueror replied and returned back to take command.
Part 23
When their ship reached Crete ‘s shores, it anchored. The Queen was lowered to a small boat and the Conqueror joined her. Four men commenced vigorous rowing and in a short while they reached dry land.

The second in command of the Royal Guard along with Lady Satrina, the Queen’s lady in waiting, bowed before the Conqueror and the Queen. “Your Majesties,” they greeted them.

“Any word from Nobleman Paterikis?” the Conqueror addressed her question to the Royal Guard’ second in command.

“No, Majesty. He hasn’t greeted us and he hasn’t dispatched his guards, either,” he answered.

“Well, he is not foolish enough to raise arms against the Imperial Guard.”

When the Conqueror, the Queen and their entourage arrived at Nobleman Paterikis’ manor the Nobleman and his wife, Lady Octavia, greeted them. The Conqueror was shown to Nobleman Paterikis’ study, while the Queen and her lady in waiting were shown to Lady Octavia’s chambers.

Once in Nobleman Paterikis’ study, the Conqueror clasped her hands together behind her back and turned to Nobleman Paterikis. “What is the meaning of your brazen insubordination, Nobleman? Am I to be expected to come here and remove you by force myself!?” the Conqueror frowned.

“I deeply apologize, your Majesty, for the inexcusable delay. As your Majesty can see, I am already packed and ready to leave for my next station which your gracious Majesty has assigned for me,” he said and pointed his finger to the large crates in various corners of his study.

“I am sure that you had these packed as soon as you saw the Imperial Guards’ boots touch Crete ‘ soil,” she stated.

“I beg your forgiveness, Majesty, I meant no dis–”

But the Conqueror didn’t allow him to finish his statement. “How much longer?” she asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“Two days at the most,” he quickly replied.

The Conqueror narrowed her eyes. “I do not take kindly to any sordid games, and if you think that I’m inclined to partake in such games, you are grossly mistaken. You will leave Crete tomorrow at first light.”

“By your will, Majesty,” he said.

“Make all the necessary arrangements by then.”

“Of course, Majesty.”

“Consider this my first and only warning to you.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“And another thing, you will hold a meeting today with her Majesty the Queen along with your secretary, administrator and steward and you will render a full and extensive report as to Crete ‘s current state.”

“It will be done, forthwith. In the meantime, your Majesty is welcome to visit the winery and help herself to the vast selection of wine,” he said.

“That is very good of you, Nobleman Paterikis.”

Meanwhile, in Lady Octavia’s chambers sat the Queen along with Lady Satrina as they sipped tea.

“I am sorry for taking you away from the Lord Conqueror, but I find politics extremely dreary,” said Lady Octavia, a woman slightly older than thirty years of age, who dressed in excellent taste.

“Some find it extremely invigorating,” replied the Queen, “but I am sure it is not for everyone’s taste.”

“I heard her Grace the Princess was admitted to the Roman Military Academy . That is quite impressive.”

“Indeed.” The Queen’s response was a mixture of longing and pride.

“It is an excellent institution. My boy attends it.”

“So you must be very proud as well,” offered the Queen.

“And then some. I am a lucky woman, but not as lucky as your Majesty,” Lady Octavia went on with her chatters.

The Queen raised an eyebrow. “How do you mean, Lady Octavia?”

“Well, you are the wife of the Lord Conqueror. Let me tell you, Majesty,” it seemed there was no stopping her tongue, “When your Majesty and the Lord Conqueror got married, hearts of women all over the Realm and beyond were broken. Mine included. The Lord Conqueror must have told you about our short yet sweet dalliance about fifteen years ago, when I was but a young bride.”

Lady Satrina lowered her head and the Queen, who was not surprised to learn that said dalliance had taken place before she had entered her Lord’s service, deliberately cleared her throat to indicate to her audience she had no desire to hear any further on the subject.

“Forgive me, Majesty, but I didn’t mean any disrespect. I meant it as a complement to your Majesty. Your Majesty is the envy of many women, for having secured such a supreme match, company included,” she chuckled inappropriately.

The Queen turned her gaze to Lady Satrina and noticed that the lady’s eyes were still fixated upon her clasped hands in her lap.

At that point the door opened and the Conqueror entered the chambers with decisive strides, as was her manner.

All three Ladies rose to their feet and curtsied before her.

“My Queen,” the Conqueror bowed before her wife, then straighten upwards. “Ladies,” she then acknowledged the presence of the two other women in the chamber.

“Your Majesty,” greeted Lady Octavia, sounding cheerful as a smitten lass, which the Queen thought was quite unbecoming.

“Dear Lady Octavia, you look ravishing as always,” the Conqueror reciprocated, charmingly.

Before Gabrielle entered her life, the women whom the Conqueror had taken to her bed in order to feed her assorted appetites could be divided into four major categories: body slaves she had bought and kept in her pen, whores she had rented in brothels or on battlefields, commoners who had coincidently caught her eye every now and then, and noblewomen or women of stature whom she had taken the trouble to seduce.

The women belonging to the fourth category had been the only type of women that had required the Conqueror’s flairs and attributes of wooing, hunting and charm.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” the Lady nearly blushed and waved her light brown hair backwards, with a flirtatious motion of her head.

The Conqueror extended her arm to her Queen. The Queen took it as the invitation it was and slid her delicate hand into the Conqueror’s rough one.

“Your presence is required in the study, your Majesty,” the Conqueror informed her. “Nobleman Paterikis is waiting there to give you the lay of the land, so to speak.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” the Queen said when she felt the Conqueror’s fingers gently docking beneath her chin and tilting her head just slightly. Not long after their eyes met, the Conqueror touched her lips to the Queen’s. It was a brief yet solid kiss and it was as if the Conqueror was making a point to Lady Octavia.

The Conqueror and the Queen vacated Lady Octavia’s chambers. They walked through the corridors with their arms entwined and two of the Imperial guards kept a few paces behind them, to allow the Royal couple their privacy.

“Lady Octavia seemed very excited to see you, my Lord.” the Queen threw a knowing sideways glance at the Conqueror.

“You noticed that, too.” The Conqueror seemed annoyingly pleased to the Queen.

“One could notice it from Mount Olympus , my Lord,” the Queen replied.

“Could it be that my Gabrielle is as possessive as the Lord of the Realm!?” the Conqueror teased.

The Queen smiled. “My Lord’s public display of affection effectively neutralized both the Lady Octavia and I.”

“I suspected it might,” the Conqueror answered smugly when they reached Nobleman Paterikis’ study.

The Conqueror opened the door for the Queen. “I will see you, later, your Majesty,” she said.

“Won’t my Lord join me?”

“It is your province now, Majesty. I’m off to sample some fine wine,” the Conqueror smirked and left the Queen in the company of Nobleman Paterikis and his administrators.

It took the better part of the day for the Queen to be informed and advised as to her province’s state, yet she was quick to learn and demonstrated ingenuity in her way of thinking.

When the meeting was nearing its end, the Queen delegated equal amounts of duties between the secretary, administrator and steward who formally served under Nobleman Paterikis.

“And now, if you please, I wish to have a few words in private with the Queen,” Nobleman Paterikis addressed his former servants and the guards.

They all complied with his request and left the study.

“I am sure you’ll govern this great province of Crete , which I hold dear in my heart, wisely and supremely, your Majesty,” he said.

“That is very kind of you to say and I’m confident that the province which my Lord has given you to rule would benefit greatly by your expertise, Nobleman Paterikis. Crete and the Realm thank you for your great service here.” she returned in kind.

He nodded his head in gratitude.

“Would there be anything else, Nobleman?” the Queen asked and rose to her feet.

“My wife Lady Octavia,” he began to say and moved closer to the Queen.

“What about her?” the Queen asked.

“She has been burning for the Conqueror for years, did you know?”

His reply caught the Queen off guard.

“You must think nothing of it,” She dismissed however, inwardly she felt sorry for him. “I am sure Lady Octavia is very devoted to you, nobleman.”

But it was as if he had heard none of her words. “As soon as the Imperial Guard landed on shore she adorned herself like a peacock, putting on her best dress and her best undergarments, and painted her face like she was on a war path.”

“I’m sure it is not so, nobleman. You misinterpret her actions.”

However, the Queen might as well have been talking to a wall.

“Are you aware of the fact that not a moon passed after we were married that the Conqueror took my wife to her bed, Majesty?”

The Queen couldn’t believe Nobleman Paterikis had the audacity to speak the way he did.

“You are forgetting your place, nobleman, and getting dangerously too familiar with me,” the Queen warned him.

“It is only fair that I should help myself to the Conqueror’s wife after all she has taken from me.”

And before the Queen realized what was happening, Nobleman Paterikis had already closed the gap between them and pushed the rim of her dress upwards. The shock she felt at his crazed actions delayed the Queen’s response, but when she regained control of her faculties she tried to push his hands off her.

“Come, Come now, we all know what you are… Don’t be a prude. We never let your shiny crown fool us,” he became crass and his hands more frisky.

The Queen slapped him hard across his face with a force she didn’t know she possessed. It was his turn to be stunned, but he composed himself quickly and fueled by anger, he became more violent.

As the Queen tried to make a run for it, he grabbed her by her waist.

“Let me show you what a proper man can do,” he growled and quickly blocked the Queen’s mouth with his hand, preventing her from screaming her distress and raising an alarm.

As soon as the Conqueror reached the corridor that led to Nobleman Paterikis’ study, her eyes fell on the two guards posted outside the door. She thought it strange that the Queen’s guards were standing outside Nobleman Paterikis’ study. In an instinct, her strides towards them became wider and hastier with each step she took.

“Where is the Queen?” She asked, masking her concern.

“Still inside, your Majesty,” the highest ranking of the two answered her.

“You left the Queen unguarded!?” the Conqueror was livid.

The berated guards were too frightened to issue any reply.

The Conqueror opened the door into the study. The two guardsmen followed her inside, nearly bumping into her. The sight that greeted the Conqueror’s eyes, her Queen gagged and her nobleman fumbling like an oafish adolescent, instigated her dark beast’s ascension from its murky dwellings at the pit of her soul.

Nobleman Paterikis immediately recoiled away from the Queen, as if he was handling a burning ember. Feelings of rage and scorn gave way to frizzing fear.
“Hand me your spear, soldier,” the Conqueror snarled and stretched out her arm backwards to where the guard was standing, yet she never broke eye contact with her mark.

He did as he was ordered, and relinquished his weapon.

“Now take the Queen outside to the garden, as far away from here as possible. I don’t want her to hear what’s about to happen here. Have Milos and Neros guard her in your stead.”

Nobleman Paterikis’ visibly swallowed, but his mouth was completely dry.

On her way out of the study, the Queen stopped and stood briefly next to her Lord. She was at a loss for words, and she wasn’t sure of what to say or if there was even a point.

When the two guardsmen passed her by, the Conqueror hissed at them between clenched teeth, “I will deal with the two of you later.”

The Conqueror enjoyed her kills, to be sure. She relished the spray of blood washing her skin like a warm bath, and she took pleasure in penetrating the tender human flesh of her foes with her well-honed sword. Nevertheless, the supreme master killer remained efficient in her primary trade, and usually would not inflict more wounds than were necessary to harvest a life.

Queen Gabrielle needn’t hear the horrifying screams and shrieks coming from Nobleman Paterikis’ study. She knew, perhaps better than anyone else in the Realm, the extent that her Lord’s cruelty and callousness could reach.

In future moons there would be rumors that spread throughout the Realm as to Nobleman Paterikis’ unfortunate end. Some claimed that the Conqueror had sodomized him with a spear. Others insisted that she had fed his genitals to him. The ones most commonly believed were those that suggested both. However, two things never happened again since that day in Crete : the first, no one else ever tried anything remotely similar with the Queen; the second, the Queen was always guarded when away from the Corinthian palace and not in the Conqueror’s presence.

A few candle-marks later, just before the sun dove into the sea, the Conqueror stepped out into the garden to join her Queen and the guards. Her dark smooth hair was damp, evidence of her recent bath, and she wore different attire than the one she had worn before.

When the Queen looked into her Lord’s eyes, she could see the beast leering back at her.

The Conqueror turned her attention to the two guardsmen who had abandoned their post guarding the Queen earlier that day.

“Whose orders are you bound and obligated to obey?” the Conqueror asked them.

“Yours, your Majesty,” they both replied in unison.

“Whose else?” the Conqueror asked impatiently.

“Her Majesty the Queen’s,” came their response.

“Did she order you to leave the study?”

“Her Majesty did not, Majesty.”

“Then you shouldn’t have left your post, should you!?”

“No, your Majesty.”

“Do you know what a warrior’s greatest enemy is?”

“Fear, your Majesty.”

“Wrong, soldiers. Fear can make you alert, therefore, it can keep you alive. Complacency, soldiers. Complacency is a warrior’s greatest enemy. Why do you think I have managed to rule this Realm for as long as I have?”

They knew better than to interrupt her speech.

“I have never allowed myself to become complacent, that’s why!”

They hung their heads low in shame and dared not meet her glare as she berated them.

“For my pleasure, you will each enjoy my hospitality at the palace’s dungeon in Corinth for a period no longer than a moon. I have half a mind to withhold paying your salaries, but I know both of you are married with children who depend on you to provide. I will not make them pay for your stupidity and gross negligence. Now get out of my sight.”

“Thank you for your mercy, your Majesty,” they said.

“Milos, Neros, you are dismissed for tonight.”

And with that, the Conqueror and the Queen retired to the chambers that the late nobleman assigned to them upon their arrival.

Behind the closed doors, the Queen knew she was not entirely alone with her Lord. The Conqueror’s darkness was there with them as well.

“Know that I don’t blame you…You did nothing wrong…” the Conqueror said.

When her Lord’s speech was quiet and dawdled, the Queen knew, it meant that she was making a great effort to reign herself.

“But my blood is still wired… it needs to get out…” the Conqueror continued, her body cocked and her fists clenched.

“I understand, my Lord. I am prepared.”

And with that, the darkness was let loose.

“Some women found Paterikis quite handsome and charismatic,” the Conqueror began to say and the Queen could hear the knocks made by the heavy leather boots against the floorboards, as her Lord walked in circles around her.

The Queen also noticed her Lord’s use of the past tense in regards to the former governor of Crete .

She didn’t look up to meet her Lord’s darkened eyes.

“Did you wish to remain alone with him in the study?”

The Queen could feel the beast now breathing down her neck.

“No, my Lord,” she answered.

The Queen stilled her body further when her Lord’s rhythmic and repetitive footsteps were echoing around her.

“Then why didn’t you order your guards to remain in the study?”

“I could never imagine he would dare do anything remotely similar to what he tried to do.” The Queen could feel her heart beating in her throat.

“Are you sure you didn’t fancy him?”

“I didn’t fancy him, my Lord.”

“You didn’t want him, then, did you?”

“No, my Lord. I desire only you.” The Queen had no doubt in her mind that so much her Lord knew.

“Swear it!”

The Queen felt like all the air in the room evaporated.

“I swear on my life, my Lord,” she replied earnestly and with every bit of humility in her.

“You’ve never thought much of your life, Madame, and never placed too much value upon it.”

The Queen raised her head for the first time since she had entered their chamber and looked directly into her Lord’s glaring eyes. “I swear to you on my daughter’s life, my Lord,” she said and knelt before the Conqueror.

In her heart, the Queen knew that her Lord believed her without reservations. Questioning her loyalty and fidelity was nothing more than the ranting of the hideous creature that resided within her Lord, nothing but darkness still needing to lash out. There was only one way, the Queen knew, to put it back in its cage, and that was through raw physical pleasure, not just the Conqueror’s but her own. And so, she untied the laces which were tight about her bustle and once untied she jiggled her shoulders and let her dress slide to her waist, exposing her beautifully sculpted back and shoulders to her Lord’s eyes.

The Conqueror took out her whip, brandished it in her hand then flicked it upon the creamy flesh at her feet.
Part 24
The next morning, after the Conqueror had left for a morning ride, Lady Satrina entered the Royal couple’s chambers to assist the Queen with her morning preparations.

As always, the Queen turned her back after putting her dress over her head. But Satrina’s quick and observant eye managed to see the welt marks that discolored the Queen’s back and she winced just as the Queen turned back to face her again.

“You needn’t be concerned for me, dear Satrina. I needed and wanted it, too,” the Queen simply stated what she knew in her heart was true. She half expected to see a disgusted or appalled expression on Lady Satrina’s face, and when it failed to appear she simply thought it was Lady Satrina’s demonstration of dignity and respect for her.

“I understand, Majesty,” Satrina responded.

The Queen assumed that Satrina meant she understood that her Mistress made excuses or offered unconvincing reasoning for her Lord’s savagery, as she had seen many women with abusive husbands do.

“No you don’t understand,” the Queen insisted almost angrily. She resented what she perceived as her friend’s uncalled for and unnecessary pity.

“Pardon, your Majesty, but I do. I’ve been the Lord Conqueror’s…” Lady Satrina began to explain.

“I needn’t be reminded of it.” The Queen was angry and it surprised her.

Anger was a foreign emotion to her. She hadn’t been angry when she had been sold by her father into slavery and ripped from her family and childhood, she hadn’t been angry with the county healer when he had tried to have his way with her, nor the British Captain for that matter. She hadn’t been angry even with Nobleman Paterikis, for she understood his foolish and reckless acts towards her had been born out of feelings of being robbed of his wife and province by the Conqueror.

And she had never been angry with her Lord.

Her heart was ever forgiving and she could witness and yet excuse people’s weaknesses and offences no matter how petty or selfish they were, especially ones that were directed at her. What she couldn’t pardon, what she resented was pity. She never desired pity. Not when she had been a slave and most certainly not now that she was Queen. Not from strangers and certainly not from friends. Not when there was a reason and certainly when there was none.

“Please don’t be angry with me, Majesty. With all due respect, it is not what your Majesty thinks.”

“How do you mean?”

“I understand because… that is the reason I have spurned Captain Cornelius’ advances.”

The Queen raised an inquisitive eyebrow, still not understanding what her lady in waiting and friend was trying to tell her.

“The Lord Conqueror has spoiled me for other suitors.”

At that moment it became clear to the Queen. Lady Satrina had kept her head down when Lady Octavia had talked about how women lusted after her Lord, not out of embarrassment for the babbling lady but out of guilt, for she was one of those women whom Lady Octavia had said envied her for securing the Conqueror for herself in marriage.

It was as if some light flickered somewhere in her mind and other things began to make sense to her. She recalled the conversation they had shared when she feared that she might lose her life during childbirth when her Lord had been in Cyra. The Queen realized now that she must have subconsciously known all along that Lady Satrina bore strong feelings towards her Lord. Moreover, the Queen understood Lady Satrina’s rejection of the Conqueror’s generous offer to appoint her governor to Philippi . The lady had declined the respected position plainly because she wished to remain at court in Corinth close to the object of her love, the Lord Conqueror.

And it also explained why Lady Satrina had never attempted to converse with her about her service to the Conqueror back when the Queen had been her body slave.

“I don’t wish to hear anymore,” the Queen said almost emotionless.

“You don’t understand, Majesty… ever since I’ve been your friend, and then lady in waiting, I have grown to know you, and your pure and perfect heart, and your gentleness…”

“Please, I urge you not to say anything else…” the Queen became further agitated and raised both palms in the air wordlessly signaling Lady Satrina to stop.

But there was no muzzle to Lady Satrina’s mouth. “It is not just the Lord Conqueror I love…” she kept on vomiting the words she had kept inside her for far too long.

“You must be quiet now.” The Queen was flustered, for she foresaw where this was headi ng . “It is dangerous talk, can’t you see? I will not keep secrets from my Lord.” The Queen anxiously rose to her feet and tried to put as much distance between herself and the Lady Satrina and her unstoppable confessions. “I would be forced to tell my Lord…”

“I’m in love with you, as well.” Lady Satrina simply needed to say it.

“STOP SPEAKING!” the Queen shouted but it was too late already.

“I will die a peaceful death if I could spend but one night in bed between the Conqueror and your Majesty.”

And there it was, all out in the open.

Both Queen and devoted, love-stricken servant cried silent tears.

“I can never love you back, do you understand me?” the Queen said, sure in her words like she had never been sure of anything else.

“I know, your Majesty,” answered Lady Satrina. Her shoulders were now quivering with her sobs. “You love the Lord Conqueror beyond measure, and are absolutely blind to anyone else besides her.”

“Is it obvious?” the Queen asked.

“To me it is, Majesty, but the Lord Conqueror would never know lest you tell her, and you never will,” Lady Satrina said with remarkable honesty and astuteness. She didn’t convey her impressions for the purpose of causing the Queen pain, but rather as a statement of fact.

A few long moments passed each lady was deep in her own thoughts. Both recognized the gravity of the situation, both knew it was far from a benign matter.

It was Lady Satrina who finally broke the silence.

“What will happen to me now, your Majesty?” she asked defeated and not without a touch of concern.

“My Lord wishes to take me away somewhere. Our destination has not yet been revealed to me, but I think my Lord intends for us to be alone, therefore you’ll return to Corinth . I will speak with my Lord regarding this matter when the time is right and I will plea on your behalf.” The Queen saw no other venue.

Lady Satrina nodded her head in resignation.

When all was prepared, the Conqueror and the Queen boarded a smaller ship that could have been sailed by no more than ten pair of hands. The Conqueror ordered the rest of her fleet back to Corinth . Lady Satrina was sent back to Corinth as well.

A few candle-marks later, they reached an enchanting small island.

“Welcome to Thira , my Lady,” the Conqueror said as their ship anchored at the small bay.

Twilight descended and tranquility enveloped the old bay. The island whispered citrus groves and towering palms. White windmills were being propelled by a lazy wind and colorful fishing boats dazzled the eye. A w arm breeze wafted along the Aegean shores. There were lush rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards mixed among hidden waterfalls.

“My Lord…” the Queen exclaimed with excitement, “this is what the Elysian Fields must look like.”

The Conqueror was very pleased at her wife’s much desired response, yet a thought crossed her mind that in all likelihood, with all the blood on her hands, she would never know what the Elysian Fields look like.

“I suspected you might like it,” the Conqueror smiled.

A soldier approached them, leading two horses behind him.

“Your Majesties,” he greeted them and tipped his head.

“Herromus, is it not?” asked the Conqueror.

“Indeed, your Majesty,” he replied.

“And how is you wife and your daughter?”

“Very well, your Majesty.”

“She ought to be ten summers old, now, correct?”

“Your Majesty has excellent memory,” he answered and handed over the reins to the Conqueror.

“Is my villa prepared?”

“It is, Majesty,” he nodded his in the affirmative.

“Very good. Her Majesty and I don’t wish to be disturbed. Fresh provisions are to be delivered daily just before dawn and be left in the pantry outside at the rear entrance.”

“Understood, your Majesty. Enjoy your stay in Thira , Majesties!”

“Thank you, Herromus,” the Queen smiled.

The Conqueror helped the Queen to climb the animal, and then she mounted the other horse. They began their ascension towards the Conqueror’s villa at the highest point of the Isle of Thira.

“I haven’t been here since before we were married,” the Conqueror pointed out as they rode the horses, passing by the vineyards.

The higher they climbed the fewer houses the Queen saw, till there were none anymore.

“I can see that there are very few who reside here,” she said to the Conqueror.

“There are very few families who dwell here. There are a few fishermen, some farmers who work the land, and a small battalion which guards this piece of treasure, ” the Conqueror said.

“And who governs this little island?” the Queen was curious to know.

“I do . There is not much to govern here. The isle’s inhabitants are scarce. They do not pay taxes to the Realm. Their sole duty is to maintain the Island and my villa. That is all.”

After a few moments of silence between them, the Conqueror added, almost in envy, “They lead simple lives here.”

When the Royal couple reached the villa, they dismounted their horses. The Queen surveyed the relatively modest yet charming structure, while the Conqueror stabled the animals. It was made of stone and was painted white like most structures she had seen on the way, with arched windows shielded by wooden shudders painted blue, and two chimneys at the top, one for the kitchen and one for the common chamber, she surmised. But it was the scenery that engrossed her attention the most.

She felt her Lord’s strong arms engulfing her slight form from behind and her Lord’s body heat protecting her like a force field.

“There aren’t better sunsets than Thira ‘s sunsets,” the Conqueror whispered in her ear, as if not to intrude on her Queen’s experience.

“What is the islet up ahead?” the Queen referred to the islet where the sun was about to dive behind.

“It is a volcano, called Strongyli,” the Conqueror explained as she fixated her gaze on its zenith, checking to see if there was any smoke coming out of it. “I shall take you there by boat tomorrow, if you like…”

“I would be delighted, my Lord . ”

“There’s hot springs at the feet of it. You will enjoy it.”

The Queen rested her hands over the forearms that embraced her and watched the last of the sun’s rays paint the sky and the darkening blue waters of the pastoral Aegean Sea , with countless shades of crimson and orange, like many embers in various stages of simmer. A few seagulls, the light breeze upon the water and the Royal couple’s breathing were the only sounds that tainted the silence.

When it became dark and the night kingdom began its shift, spreading bright twinkling stars around a full silvery moon, the Conqueror release her hold around her Queen.

“Let’s go inside, Gabrielle,” she spoke softly.

And they walked into the villa hand in hand. Inside, there was a warm and welcoming common area with a hearth, a simple wooden table, some rugs and furs on the wooden floorboards and a couple of armchairs. On the right there was a well-equipped rustic kitchen and upstairs was a convivial bedchamber with a terrace, which overlooked the volcano at sea and a Roman style heated bath.

In the bedchamber, the Queen opened the clothes cupboard. Inside, she discovered an array of simple dresses her size and a few plain garments her Lord’s size.

“We are alone here. There are no servants to wait on us here.” The Conqueror then halted her speech and contemplated her next words, “I wish we weren’t Conqueror and Queen here.”

Gabrielle understood. “It will be just us here, my Lord,” she whispered and began to undress in order to slip into one of the cotton nightgowns. She noticed her Lord’s gaze moving over her back and shoulders.

“It’s been a while since last I’ve used…” she began to say.

“Not since before we were wed, my Lord,” the Queen recalled, when she felt warm fingertips trailing over her back and shoulders.

“I wasn’t too…?”

“No, my Lord. You haven’t been too rough. These will fade away completely no later than tomorrow.” The Queen turned to face her Lord, and threw her arms to rest loosely around her Lord’s neck.

The Conqueror held her wife’s waist. “You did receive pleasure from it, did you not?”

Gabrielle pressed her body against her Lord’s and whispered, “Like my Lord cannot imagine.”

The Conqueror leaned down, one arm wrapped around Gabrielle’s waist, while her other hand gently caressed Gabrielle’s cheek. “I have never brought anyone else here before.”

“I am honored that my Lord chose me to share this private paradise with,” Gabrielle whispered back, rose to stand on her toes and placed a kiss over her Lord’s hard collarbone.

“I used to come here often when…” the Conqueror started to say but all of a sudden stopped herself.

Gabrielle expected her to continue. Inwardly, she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that what her Lord was about to divulge was of great significance.

“We’ve had a long day today, Gabrielle. Let us go to bed.”
Part 25
If Gabrielle thought that the sunset she had gazed upon the previous day was breathtaking, then nothing prepared her for the staggering beauty of Thira ‘s sunrise. She witnessed it from the opened window opposite the bedchamber’s terrace. The manner in which the early rays touched the sea created an illusion as if the cerulean water was covered with white, shimmering pearls.

Relieved that she didn’t have to bother with her jewels and regal attire, she covered her nudity with a plain dress that took no more than a few brief moments to put on, and rushed downstairs to join her Lord in the kitchen.

She was in for another pleasant surprise that morning, for when she entered the kitchen, she saw her Lord standing there over a light breakfast she had prepared with nothing more than a white cotton sleeveless tonic, black trousers and a white apron tied around her slander waist with the knot at the back.

The Conqueror had never seen a smile stretching Gabrielle’s lips so wide before.

“And good morning to you, too,” the Conqueror frowned.

“Forgive me, my Lord,” Gabrielle couldn’t contain her laughter any longer, “I wasn’t expecting… This,” she said and gestured with her hands at the sight before her.

“Well, I wasn’t born Conqueror, you know… I can cook… somewhat,” the Conqueror replied defensively, as Gabrielle’s eyes moved over the unevenly chopped vegetables, the coarsely sliced cheese, the bread’s singed crust and the eggs, which were somewhere between scrambled and an omelet.

Gabrielle thought it was one of the most charming things that the Conqueror had ever done for her. She had undertaken a task, which clearly she did not excel at to say the least, for the sole purpose of pleasing her wife, disregarding the flawed impression of herself she might leave.

“It is the most perfect breakfast I have ever seen or tasted. Thank you, my Lord,” Gabrielle said after tasting the eggs, and the Conqueror looked very pleased with herself.

After finishing their light meal, they rode together back to the small bay, where a fisherman was only too pleased to lend his boat to his Sovereign.

After Gabrielle climbed into the rocking boat, the Conqueror climbed in after her and seated herself opposite her wife. She took both paddles into each of her hands and began to row towards the volcano.

“You’re not feeling nauseous, are you?” the Conqueror asked, since the small size of the boat meant that it was more rickety upon the waves than larger, heavier ships.

“Perhaps a bit, my Lord,” Gabrielle replied.

The Conqueror let go of the paddles, took her wife’s hand in hers and applied a pressure point on a specific place on Gabrielle’s wrist.

“That ought to do it,” she said and Gabrielle felt almost immediate relief. “We’re almost there, Gabrielle.”

“That is amazing. My Lord has many skills,” Gabrielle smiled and rubbed her wrist. She was happy now with the queasiness no longer bothering her, she could enjoy the view; the sea, the isle of Thira moving further away from them, the volcano getting closer to them, and her Lord’s flexing biceps as she vigorously rowed the boat.

When they’ve reached the foot of the volcano, the Conqueror helped her wife out of the boat and secured it with a rope to the pier.

As soon as Gabrielle’s foot touched the ground, she could discern how black the earth was.

“Are you ready to climb up, Gabrielle?”

“Where are the horses, my Lord?” Gabrielle asked and looked up in search of the volcano’s pinnacle.

“There are no horses here. There is no life here,” the Conqueror replied. “We’ll walk.”

As they made their way to the top, Gabrielle noticed that it was much warmer on the volcano than in Thira . There was a strange, almost foul odor to the air as well. There were no animals there, not even insects. There were only black rocks, black grainy sand, and some very few shrubs with tiny yellow flora at their apex.

Halfway through the steep slope, Gabrielle halted to catch her breath.

The Conqueror halted her wide strides, and handed her wife a flask filled with water. Then she knelt next to her wife and said, “Climb up my back and I will carry you to the top . ”

Gabrielle held on to the Conqueror’s shoulders, and the scaling continued.

Nearing the summit, Gabrielle could feel that the heat had increased. There was no longer any trace of the yellow shrubs and there were fumes and grey thick smoke emanating out of the black ground from several points of origin. The only thing that kept her calm was the presence of her Lord, but that was enough.

When they reached the summit, the Conqueror lowered herself, allowing Gabrielle to climb safely down.

Gabrielle saw the large smoky crater. She could see the heat being spewed out of it dark gullet with her own eyes.

She felt drawn to see deeper into it, but the Conqueror warned her not to stand too close to the edge, so as not to lose her footing.

When Gabrielle’s eyes rested on the glowing scarlet ashes and the puddle of liquid fire at the bottom, she couldn’t help but think how her Lord was so much like this volcano; both tall, dark and brooding, commanding fear and respect in their presence, allowing no living things around them. Inside both there was constant deadly fire brewing, ready to irrupt at any giving moment. The smoke was a clear sign of warning, warding off any intrusions. No one could reach inside. No one could venture into the heart of either. No one could withstand, nor survive their rage.

And yet, some persistent yellow shrubs managed, somehow, and against all odds to grow close to the feet of it. Gabrielle equated herself to those yellow shrubs.

It was then that her mind drifted to Satrina’s words on the morning they had left for Thira . What could she say to her Lord that would not lead to her friend’s inevitable demise?

“Amazing, isn’t it?”

The Conqueror’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts.

“It is, my Lord,” Gabrielle replied. “I have never seen such sights.”

“I should have brought you to Thira a long time ago.”

Gabrielle was rocked to her core. She detached her gaze from the dark glowing pit, lifted up her head and washed her eyes with the isle of Thira as seen from the volcano.

“Are you ready to go to the hot springs , now?”

“I am, my Lord,” Gabrielle said and let out a deep breath.

The climb down the volcano was much easier on Gabrielle, and when they reached the bottom, they climbed back into the boat and the Conqueror rowed around the volcano then docked.

She began to disrobe and Gabrielle followed her lead and disrobed as well. When completely naked, the Conqueror jumped head first into the water. When she reemerged from under the greenish water, she warned Gabrielle that at first the water would be cold.

Gabrielle carefully entered the water, and as the Conqueror had warned, they were chilly, but she began to swim behind her Lord and soon enough the water began to warm up. It was bliss.

***

Close to dusk they were back at the Conqueror’s villa in Thira . They stood next to each other, wrapped in clean white towels, after a warm bath they had shared on the terrace and they watched the sun go down.

“I shall never have enough of those sunsets, my Lord.”

The Conqueror collected her wife into her arms and pressed her lips against the Queen’s.

Thira had a profound and strange effect on the Royal couple. They each seemed deep in their own thoughts. In some ways they were closer than ever to one another and in others they seemed oceans apart.

The next day, the Royal couple decided to stroll around the small paths surrounding the villa and have a nice picnic under a tree nearby. Close to sundown, they returned back to the villa to watch the sunset, and after a light supper, they sat side by side in the armchairs in front of the burning hearth in the common chamber.

Gabrielle’s mind quickly wandered to her daughter she had left in Rome at the hands of strangers, and then to Lady Satrina’s dangerous words.

The Conqueror brought a goblet filled with spirits to her lips, took a large gulp then twirled the liquid in her mouth in order to enjoy its flavor, smooth body and texture. Her eyes spotted the Queen gazing at the fire with a troubled look on her face.

“Is it Athena that is occupying your thoughts, Gabrielle?”

At her Lord’s question Gabrielle found comfort, thinking that her Lord was missing her daughter as much as she had.

“I miss her, my Lord,” Gabrielle said, her eyes still gazing pensively on the crackling fire.

“We shall see her again before long, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied. “But I see there is something else that is troubling you.”

“My Lord… It is with grave heart that…” Gabrielle thought she would not be able to finish her sentence. She tore her gaze from the flames and focused on her clasped hands lying in her lap.

“What is the matter?” the Conqueror sounded concerned and looked at her wife.

“Before my Lord and I had left for Thira , I had a conversation with Lady Satrina.”

“And?” the Conqueror urged her wife to go on.

“She noticed my Lord’s marks on my back and shoulder,”

“That is none of her business and you should have been less careless.”

“Forgive me, my Lord. I didn’t mean for her to see them.”

“Is that all?” the Conqueror inquired and her grip around her goblet tightened.

At that moment, the solid advice of Princess Lao-Ling about not allowing anyone between herself and her Lord sprung to Gabrielle’s mind, and so she mustered up the courage to go on.

“I thought she was feeling sorry for me. Pride and vanity wouldn’t allow me to accept her pity quietly. I told her that it was done with my consent and free will. She told me she understood. That it was that sort of… treatment that made her fall in love with my Lord. She is in love with my Lord still.”

The Conqueror refused to feel uncomfortable by Lady Satrina’s infatuation, especially in Gabrielle’s presence. She rubbed her chin and considered her wife’s words. “She is your lady in waiting. You may do as you wish with her. Is that all?” The Conqueror noticed that concern had yet to leave her wife’s countenance.

“No, my Lord.”

“What else is there?” the Conqueror asked.

“She also professed love towards me, my Lord.”

It was that statement that caused the silver goblet in the Conqueror’s hand to take the shape of its owner’s fingers, by the sheer force of the further tightening grip around it.

Gabrielle rushed to kneel at her livid Lord’s feet.

“I pray you to spare Satrina, my Lord, it is not her fault.”

“Of course it’s her fault. Her emotions are her responsibility. She should have been in control of them, rather than allow it to be the other way around!” The Conqueror threw the dented silver goblet into the fire, and the liquid ignited the flames. “Satrina will face the consequences!” the Conqueror stated. She resented and envied the gall and courage that a former slave had to profess love to her Queen, gall and courage that she, the great Conqueror of the Realm, did not possess.

Gabrielle placed an appeasing hand over her Lord’s knee. “Some of us cannot curb or govern feelings of love and keep them outside and far away from our hearts, my Lord,” she sounded bitter. “For most of us, the heart wants what the heart wants.”

“Oh!?” the Conqueror muttered, when she thought she had heard a hint of an accusation. “And what does your heart want, Madame?” she lowered her head and looked directly into the Queen’s eyes.

The Queen didn’t answer.

The Conqueror grabbed her wife’s chin in less than a tender manner, leaned down until her face was but a hair away from her wife’s, and said with a low tone of voice and icy eyes, “I asked you a question.”

It was Gabrielle’s chance right then and there. Her Lord just asked the question which she had long wished to be asked, but years with the Conqueror had taught her that when her Lord referred to her by ‘Madame’ rather than ‘My Lady’, or by her own name, she was distant and hardhearted.

“To abide by my Lord’s commands and desires,” the Queen finally gave the answer she thought would please her Lord. She knew it was the truth, but far from being the entire truth. If she took to her grave only one secret she had kept from her Lord, it would have been the secret of her tortured, all-consuming, unrequited love she had borne her Lord for so many years. Lady Satrina had been painfully correct when she had prophesied that the Queen would never speak of her love to her Lord.

Some long burdening moments passed between them in silence. The Conqueror’s mood became further overwrought with bile and darkness, when she realized her Queen’s heart could only offer quiet obedience. What irked her even more was the fact that she had no one but herself to blame for it.

“We shall have no further discussion regarding this matter,” the Conqueror finally said and rose to her feet, leaving her wife still kneeling on the ground. “It is late. I am going to bed.”

“My Lord,” Gabrielle called after the Conqueror, but the latter neither halted nor turned around to face her.

In bed, in the darkness, Gabrielle reached over to the other side of the bed and touched her Lord, who was lying with her back still turned to her, but no response came. Quiet sour tears washed the Queen’s face.
Part 26
The next day, bright and early, soon after breakfast, the Conqueror took her bow and arrows, with not a trace of the previous night’s misfortunate events about her, nothing but a freezing expression on her features.

“Does my Lord miss eating something she killed herself?” Gabrielle teased, in the hopes it would lighten up her Lord’s mood and assuage last night’s discord.

The Conqueror chuckled.

“What shall I hunt for you, Gabrielle?”

“A pair of hares would be lovely,” replied Gabrielle with relief. Her Lord was warming up to her again.

“A pair of hares it is, then,” the Conqueror confirmed, kissed her wife’s temple and left.

She was back in her Lord’s good graces, Gabrielle thought as she fed wood to the fire burning in the stove, and placed a large caldron over it. She was making stock that would complement the Conqueror’s spoils nicely. She began with olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, then added a bundle of herbs consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a spring of thyme, which she knew her Lord liked. She used dried veal meat that was left for them outside the rear entrance to the villa.

A little after noon and after the ingredients she used had ample time to secrete their flavors into the water, filling the kitchen with delightful and appetizing odors, the Conqueror returned from the hunt.

The Conqueror took off her dirty boots at the entrance, not wishing to track mud into the villa. When she neared the kitchen door, she heard a feminine voice singing from within. She walked carefully so as not to let her presence be known, and to prolong her enjoyment at the sight of an oblivious Queen.

The Conqueror stood by the kitchen door, with fresh kill hanging over her shoulder. She observed the Queen hovering over the stove, occasionally tasting, seasoning and stirring and all the while singing an old bitter-sweet melody, which sounded like hello and ended in goodbye.

It was a melody that the Conqueror had heard in her childhood, but she couldn’t place from where. Enthralled, she folded her arms over her chest and leaned against the doorframe and just watched her wife the Queen and listened to her voice, till she felt a great pressuring pain in her chest. The kind of pain she had felt when she thought she had lost her wife during childbirth; the kind of pain she had felt the previous night when Gabrielle had told her what her heart desired.

She felt profound sorrow, which she fought against and dull its effect, and though she managed to compose herself, a grave and heavy mood set upon her like a grey stubborn cloud that would not obey the winds.

She drew in a deep breath and strode into the kitchen.

“Your timing, my Lord, is impeccable,” Gabrielle greeted her Lord with a smile, but she caught a glimpse of her Lord’s murky mood.

The Conqueror forced a smile. “I’ll go skin these,” she said and flaunted her catch.

Outside, and while Gabrielle was watching her from the kitchen window, the Conqueror chopped some wood with an axe and started a bonfire, then turned to skin the hares. When she was done, she went back into the villa to wash from her hands and face the stench and filth of the hunt.

“Do you need any help?” the Conqueror offered.

“If it pleases you, my Lord can peel some potatoes and yams,” the Queen suggested.

“Potatoes and yams…” the Conqueror repeated after her, took out her dagger tucked in her leather belt and standing next to her wife at the kitchen table, began peeling potatoes and yams, thinking how absurd they both must look.

And yet, she recognized the intimacy between them even with this tedious task, but the pivotal answer her wife had given her the previous night gnawed and ate away at her.

“My Lord is attacking the yams,” Gabrielle began to laugh when she saw how brutally her Lord was handling the vegetable. “Here, permit me to show you.” She took the yam from her Lord’s hand and demonstrated the best way to peel the vegetable.

When supper was ready, they sat together by the fire outside. The hares over the fire gave out a delicious fragrance. The Conqueror carved the meat and placed a few slices onto her wife’s plate and her own, and the Queen doused the succulent meat on both plates with the reduced stock she had made and loaded each plate with roasted potatoes and yams.

“It’s the best meal I have ever had,” the Conqueror complimented and sucked the palatable stock off her fingers. “Where did you learn to cook like this?”

“Thank you, my Lord. I began my service as a domestic. I had to learn to cook.”

They ate the rest of their meal in silence, and when they finished, they settled into the armchairs by the fireplace in the common chamber.

There was something different about the Conqueror’s mettle that night, some grievous shift of something base .

Gabrielle glanced at her Lord, who seemed despondent, deep in her thoughts and leagues away. She saw the Conqueror place a hand over her chest above her heart, almost lamentably. For the first time her Lord appeared to her as the picture of lassitude, and it pained and scared her. She surmised the cause had to be longing for their daughter and the situation with Lady Satrina, for she felt the same.

Gabrielle wished more than anything else to lift her Lord’s spirit. She felt the time was perfect to raise the issue of children again. For sure, she thought, it would ease the Conqueror’s longing for their firstborn and would also strengthen the bond between herself and her Lord. She remembered how attentive and affectionate her Lord had been towards her when she had been carrying their child.

With that conviction, she turned to her Lord and said, “I want to conceive again . ”

The Conqueror sharply turned her head to face her wife and replied with narrow eyes, “I will not allow you to.”

Gabrielle could not understand her Lord decisive refusal. “Please, I want to give you a second child and further secure your succession, my Lord,” she argued.

“I said you are forbidden from ever conceiving again.” The Conqueror response was harsh and she rose to stand on her feet, as if to better convince her wife of how determined she was.
Gabrielle stood up as well. “But I wish so much to have more children… And with our daughter so far away from us… I pray you, if my Lord could relent…” she begged.

“I will not relent!” The Conqueror was vexed and aloof. Something inside her was ready to come apart.

“But why, my Lord? Why won’t you let me bear you more children?” It broke the Queen’s heart that her Lord didn’t want any more children by her. She dreaded her Lord’s answer that might confirm her suspicions regarding her Lord’s reason for rejecting her plea.

“Because I love you and I won’t risk losing you again!” The Conqueror’s tone was sharp and enraged and two lines appeared on her forehead between her eyebrows. She glared at her Queen and saw her chin quiver and her eyes becoming foggy with tears. “It was not my intention to raise my voice at you and cause you grief, Gabrielle,” she said still strict, and not yet aware of what she had let slip.

But Gabrielle failed to register the Conqueror’s last sentence. The only thing that kept resonating in her incredulous ears was the Conqueror’s declaration of love after so many years of her yearning for it. On shaking legs, she rushed to her Lord, and fell to her knees at her Lord’s feet. She took her Lord’s hand in both her hands and pelted it with soft and urgent kisses. Sweltering tears wouldn’t stop running down her face.

It was a gesture that completely disarmed the Lord Conqueror of the Realm.

The Conqueror knelt down before her kneeling Queen, placed a gentle hand on Gabrielle’s wet cheek, and then gathered her tightly in her arms, nearly crashing the petite woman against her body.

“I love you too, my Lord,” the Queen sobbed. “If only my Lord knew how much…”

At first the Conqueror was stunned, but the realization of the words conveying love that she had mindlessly uttered in anger hit her hard, and nearly sealed her behind the fortress she had spent all her life building. There was no taking back her admission, spoken in rage notwithstanding, and not with Gabrielle reciprocating that love. For the first time in her life the Lord Conqueror wanted to relent and to surrender.

“I bear you great and perfect love, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror’s azure eyes shed tears as well, “It burns through me… It devours and consumes me.” Her speech was labored as if she had to quarry and excavate the words out that had been buried so deeply inside of her.

Gabrielle couldn’t believe her own ears, refused to trust her own eyes. As the Conqueror’s lips lovingly and passionately kissed her wet cheeks, her watery eyes, her parted lips, her neck, she kept murmuring, beseeching completely dismantled, “Say it again, my Lord.”

“I love you, my precious Gabrielle. I love you, my darling wife.”

“Then take me to bed, my Lord, and brand me with your love,” the Queen ordered and her Lord obeyed.

Euphoric, the Conqueror cradled her wife in her arms, lifted her up and carried her upstairs to their bedchamber. She carefully laid the Queen on top of the bed and worked assiduously to rid her lover of her dress. She ripped the white cotton shift off her own torso and kicked off her trousers and boots. Her heart rejoiced, for she knew now that her Gabrielle bore her much more than compliance and obedience, but brilliant and pure love.

The Conqueror’s impatient lover pulled her down to lay on top of her, as if even the slightest distance between them couldn’t be tolerated. And as soon as their naked bodies connected, their lips fiercely locked. Their overflowing, overwhelming emotions for one another ignited and guided their actions.

While the Conqueror’s tongue roamed the cavern of her lover’s mouth, she could not keep her eyes closed. She wouldn’t deprive herself the divine sight of Gabrielle’s face radiating with bright love that almost blinded her.

Gabrielle felt her Lord’s warm hands caressing her everywhere. Eager lips and tongue covered every patch of skin on her body, her breasts were thoroughly licked and suckled, the valley between her breasts was stroked; her stomach and her waist were reverently kissed. The Conqueror ran her hungry mouth over each of her lover’s arms then rained small kisses on Gabrielle’s legs and feet, not neglecting a single toe. Her kisses were scorching, as were the tears she shed in her wake.

Gabrielle was being passionately loved and worshiped. Years of agonizing pain were being slowly replaced by fulfillment and unrivaled satisfaction, though the very process itself was scathing.

The Conqueror took a mouthful of Gabrielle’s flesh, when she gave her attention to her inner thighs, rubbing her cheek against the collared one. She moved her tongue through the wetness at Gabrielle’s slit. The taste and fragrance of it were known to her as the taste of her own blood, and though she had known countless women before her Gabrielle, she knew with utmost conviction, she would easily be able to distinguish between Gabrielle’s unique essence and that of all others.

The Conqueror’s heart was breached wide open for giving, for offering with patience and extraordinary love. She didn’t waste time teasing her lover, and she was powerless to deny her lover anything. And so, as soon as she sensed Gabrielle’s hip rising to meet her touch, no further encouragement was necessary and she unleashed her most fervent and gentle attention. Her long thick tongue alternated between painting circles around Gabrielle’s throbbing nub, and plunging into the very core of her need.

Gabrielle delved her small fingers into the Conqueror’s smooth hair, not to prompt her Lord to attend to her aching need, but because it made her feel emotionally closer to her. It was almost too much for the Queen to bear her want for emotional and sexual release, and when it came, she couldn’t breathe. She was brought to heights she had never known before, and felt the explosions of her body inside her heart and in her feminine depth. When she came down, her sobs increased.

Gabrielle wept uncontrollably. “I need you here, my Lord” she whispered and placed her hand over her heart.

The Conqueror climbed back up to her Queen, sporadically leaving warm loving kisses along the flushed, damp and sensitive body that was still writhing and quivering beneath her.

Their lips met again. The Conqueror’s warm sensuous lips were caressing and nibbling, first Gabrielle’s lower lip then her upper one.

As she sucked her Lord’s tongue, Gabrielle could taste herself upon it.

“Shhhh… ” the Conqueror soothed her Queen. “There is no need for tears anymore,” she said with a hoarse and cracked voice, and thought she might have sounded more convincing if she could block her own from dripping down.

“Forgive me, my Lord,” Gabrielle replied.

“There is nothing to forgive,” the Conqueror said and gently stroked Gabrielle’s golden hair and wet cheeks. “And if only for tonight, my love,” she whispered and claimed her Queen’s lips again, “I am Xena.”

“Xena,” Gabrielle moaned in delight and smiled. She tangled her hands in the Conqueror’s long ebony hair as the latter swirled her tongue around Gabrielle’s swollen aureole before claiming an erect nipple.

They had years’ worth of unspoken words between them. So much wanted and needed to be said. But at that moment their mutual desire was to communicate with one another with the most natural, basic and immediate language they had taught themselves to use, forced themselves to use with one another. The only language they knew; a language that was unique to them.

“Now brand me, your humble servant, with your love,” the Conqueror said and rolled both of their entwined bodies, till Gabrielle was lying on top of her.

Gabrielle was beside herself. Her Lord used language that Gabrielle never thought she knew, shed tears that Gabrielle never imagined she could, and granted touches that Gabrielle never dreamed she was capable of.

She rose to a sitting position over her Lord’s pelvis and straddled it. Being on top of her Lord and looking down upon her seemed so strange, so foreign, yet so exhilarating to her that it almost baffled her. She took her Lord’s hefty length and raised her hips up to enable access and steered its tip into the pit of her desire, then lowered her body down and swallowed it whole.

The Conqueror’s flaring eyes were embedded into her Queen’s. She observed and studied even the smallest of her wife’s movements as if she was seeing her for the first time. She saw how her Queen’s features contorted with pleasure, how determent she looked to deliver satisfaction to her as well, how she dug her toes into the bed for leverage, how her hips began to sensuously sway back and forth along her shaft and how her hands began to knead her own queenly breasts.

The Conqueror positioned her large hands over Gabrielle’s, and both sets of hands pinched and molded Gabrielle’s luscious breasts and nipples in unison. The sensation sent waves of arousal through the Queen’s body, and straight to her womanhood, causing a flood to soak the Conqueror’s burning loins.

Gabrielle lowered her torso and mercilessly assaulted the Conqueror’s lips, her neck, her collarbone and her shoulders with her mouth. As she thrust and ground herself against her Lord’s need, she moaned “I love you, Xena, with my every breath, with every fiber of my being and I am yours,” then sunk her teeth into her Lord’s earlobe and sucked on the sensitive flesh.

It sent shivers through the Conqueror’s body. “I am as much yours as you are mine, love,” she rasped, almost tormented, cupping her wife’s buttocks with one hand and spurring her on to increase the rhythm. The thumb of her free hand rubbed her lover’s pulsating bud steadily.

Love ran rampant in their bed that night. It was not just the carnal merging of needing bodies, but at last the merging of starved hearts and yearning souls.

The Conqueror sensed the pressure of her impending release approaching the point of no return, and as the soul-tearing climax began, her head pushed hard backwards into the pillow beneath it and her body stiffened and arched upwards off the bed, lifting her beloved Gabrielle along with it, reaching deeper into her womanhood.

Gabrielle’s wrenching climax released out years of hoping, years of eviscerating longing, years of mute love.

“XENA!” Gabrielle’s roaring testament pierced the quiet sleepy Thirian dawn.
Part 27
Basking in the afterglow of lovemaking and the soft rays of the morning sun, Gabrielle was lounging on a high heap of furs and pillows on the terrace naked, embracing her Lord in her arms and absentmindedly stroking the dark mane that blanketed her torso.

The Conqueror rested her head against her wife’s bosom and listened to the beating of her pure heart, her strong arms draped over Gabrielle’s lap and waist.

“You are a gifted healer, Gabrielle. Can you cure my heart which is riddled with love for you?” asked the Conqueror.

“Even if I could, it would be the only thing I would deny you, my Lord. Would you really want me to?”

“Not anymore,” the Conqueror replied after a few moments and nuzzled the hollow between Gabrielle’s neck and shoulder.

The wind curved paths over the navy water of the Aegean Sea .

There were so many things the Queen wished to ask, so many things she needed to know, she didn’t know where to begin. “Tell me everything, my Lion,” she finally said, and made her Lord laugh.

The Conqueror straightened her head and looked into her wife’s shimmering forest green eyes.

“I remember the day I bought you,” she began to tell the tale. “It has remained pristine and impeccable in my mind to this day. You were the most beautiful young woman I had ever seen.”

The Queen smiled.

“But it wasn’t just your magnificent looks… it was your innocence. I distinctly remember thinking how odd it was for a body slave to appear so very innocent.”

The Queen lowered her head, but her Lord placed a gentle finger beneath her chin and prompted her wife to look back at her.

“Of all the slaves displayed on array on the platform that day, you were the only one who tried to not draw my attention to you.” The Conqueror had to smile when she envisioned the events of that day on the slavery’s block, and how Gabrielle had tried to make herself appear small and how she had evaded her gaze. “So small, so innocent and so unassuming… The sight of you brought to mind a phrase I once heard: ‘Quiet waters run deep’. It wasn’t just my desire you aroused that day, but my interest and curiosity.”

The Queen was stunned to hear her Lord tell her this. She had never imagined that she had invoked such thoughts in her Lord’s heart and mind. She’d believed it had been plain and simple lust that had motivated her Lord that day and nothing more.

“Unlike all women before you, you didn’t offer yourself to me. You never threw yourself at me. You just waited silently for my biddings… so disciplined, so obedient, so selfless and so soft.”

Still the scorch of the golden-haired body slave’s softness scarred the Conqueror’s body.

“I have made a fatal mistake. I have made a mistake no respected warrior should ever do . I underestimated your true power. I underestimated you. What possible threat a young body slave could pose to the mighty Conqueror of the Realm, I thought.” The Conqueror’s features manifested self-realized hubris. But if falling in love was the downfall that followed her excessive sense of pride, so be it. She no longer cared.

The Queen was so riveted by her Lord’s story that she failed to notice she held her breath from time to time.

The Conqueror continued, “Soon enough I learned that you’d healed Perous’ boy’s broken leg. That’s when I learned about your gentle, kind soul and your clever mind. I realized how special and exceptional you were. No body slave would have aided a nobleman or their children for that matter, and no body slave would have bothered themselves with learning a skill or broadening their horizons. Mostly, because for body slaves there isn’t really a point. You had gained the utmost esteem of Karpa, whose opinion I value greatly. I became even more intrigued by you.”

A lump was lodged in the Queen’s throat as she listened to her Lord’s words, describing in great details her thoughts and feelings, divulging her inner most deep secrets so freely. They took her back to those early days that seemed like a lifetime ago. The Queen remembered not just the sounds and the sights which assembled the events, but recreated and reconstructed the sensations she had experienced. It made the Queen fall deeper in love with her Lord, if that was even possible.

“May I ask, what incurred your wrath the night you returned from Gaul , my Lion? I’ve always wondered what I had done to displease you so that night.”

The Conqueror knew immediately to what her wife was referring. She referred to the night she had brutally branded her crest into Gabrielle’s flesh, and left a permanent symbol of absolute ownership on her.

“It was my own weakness, my love. It wasn’t anything you had or hadn’t done.”

How anomalous and inconceivable it was for Gabrielle to hear her Lord ascribing weakness to herself.
“On my way back from war, I entered a tavern and I rented a woman, as I had done countless times in the past… Just urges I needed taken care of… certainly nothing out of the ordinary. When I was about to do my business with her, you were all I could think of. I lost my will before even touching her.” The Conqueror rubbed the back of her head in embarrassment, “That never happened to me before and I punished you for it. I began to suspect I wasn’t merely in lust or even a little obsessed with you, but that it was something much deeper and much more perilous.”

Gabrielle was astounded by the revelations spilling out of her beloved Lord’s mouth. The dam that stood high between them was breached at last. There was precious little reason to keep secrets now.

“I wasn’t about to allow this to happen to me. No one is to have power over me , the Lord and Master of the Realm, least of all a body slave,” the Conqueror explained evenly.

A few silent moments passed between them.

“What did you think changed that night I returned from Gaul ?” the Conqueror was curious to know.

“I thought perhaps it was my Lord’s infamous battle-lust. I thought my Lord simply desired to try darker acts with me. What I didn’t expect was the pleasure and the high levels of arousal I experienced from it,” Gabrielle answered. Ever since she had confessed to her Lord about her darker inclinations after the affliction on the road back from Persia , she had never felt any shame about these predilections of hers.

“And then you testified in court…” the Conqueror recalled. “I refused to believe your testimony… I refused to believe you were even more perfect than I had originally thought. Those words you spoke for all to hear; ‘ I am rewarded with pleasure in my service to my Lord’, ” the Conqueror recited word for word as if she had heard them only yesterday, “endeared you to me even more.” The Conqueror let out a deep breath. Her hand slid down her wife’s silky thigh.

“I needed to reject and eradicate the idea that you were my other half, for it weakened my resolve to kill any emotions I bore towards you. That was the main reason for all my savagery and brutality towards you. It was never just dark desire, never just battle-lust that goaded my measures. Of no fault of your own, you tormented me. My feelings for you tore me asunder. That is why no one before you had suffered the levels of cruelty and violence that I have inflicted upon you.”

Gabrielle planted a kiss on her Lord’s lips then stroked them with her fingertips, encouraging her Lord to go on.

“I was convinced I would finally break you. I was certain I would make you hate and despise me with passion and that would be the end of this madness.” The Conqueror had to scoff at that notion now.

“What terrified me most in those days were my Lord’s absences,” Gabrielle said. “After each night of equally craved and dreaded darkness I wasn’t summoned to my Lord’s bed for long days. I feared my Lord discarded me for another or was tired of me. I was afraid I would lose my place in my Lord’s bed… I have often taken it into my head to be jealous of you. I could neither believe my own foolishness nor understand it.”

The Conqueror chuckled.

A few moments passed and the Conqueror’s face became serious again.

“I had to keep far away from you. I often came here to Thira during those days. I did all I could do to stay away from you. I only summoned you for service when I was confident I could maintain austere control. There were nights, I tell you, on which I would lie in my bed aching for you and still I would deny myself the ultimate pleasure of your presence and your intimate service.” The Conqueror gazed deeply into her wife’s eyes, encouraging her to speak what lay on her heart freely for she seemed to need some time to contemplate her Lord’s last words.

“When I was summoned back to my Lord’s bed after these respites, my Lord seemed so passionless and so indifferent that I secretly hoped for my Lord’s darkness… at least then I felt my Lord’s passion towards me,” Gabrielle whispered and kissed her Lord’s forehead.

The Conqueror left her lounging Queen and reentered the bedchamber. She crouched down to where she had discarded her trousers the previous night and took something out of the garment’s pocket. Then she returned back to her wife’s embrace and handed her the item she had retrieved.

It was an exquisite gold ring with gold petals surrounding a large green sparkling stone set in the middle.

“My Lord has a penchant for emeralds,” the Queen smiled, examined the flawless piece of jewelry then handed it back to the Conqueror.

“It is not an emerald, my Lady, but a green diamond. It is one of a kind. I captured the stone in the Persian palace, and as soon as I returned to Corinth , I had my jeweler set it in a ring. I have carried it with me since then always. I imagined myself giving it to you countless times… the mere presence of it close to my heart… it somehow made the great love I’ve been bearing towards you slightly more containable,” the Conqueror tried to explain as best she could and took her wife’s alabaster hand in hers. She gently placed the ring on her wife’s finger and brought it to her lips. “Will you accept this token of my love, Gabrielle?” the Conqueror asked.

“Like the collar around my thigh, I shall never remove it from my finger, my Lord,” the Queen vowed. “Thank you, my Lord,” she whispered and snared her Lord’s lips with her own.

The Conqueror was pleased. She moved her lips from the Queen’s and sent them traveling lower till she claimed a rosy nipple and sucked it into her mouth. She unleashed her tongue on it, causing her Queen to instinctively spread her thighs wide, releasing her scent that indicated her arousal.

“I sometime wish I could wear your scent over my body like perfumed oil. That way I could smell your desire constantly,” the Conqueror grinned and resumed sucking her lover’s tender flesh of her breast till she drew blood, eliciting a sharp intake of breath from her writhing Queen.

“But others would be able to smell me on you…” the Queen pointed out with a giggle.

“Well… I am a benevolent Ruler… you said so yourself,” the Conqueror replied and delved three fingers into her wife’s aromatic cleft.

Enthralled by their desire, the Lord and Queen were soon carried away by it and quickly found themselves lost in vital yet slow and tender lovemaking.

When their physical needs for one another were satisfied, they returned to peacefully lie in each other’s arms, sated for the time being.

“I’ve always found my Lord’s amorous touches to be extremely distracting,” Gabrielle moaned. “I thoroughly enjoyed it when my Lord taught me some battle strategies, but I must confess to this day I am not entirely sure as to my Lord’s reason and motivation to do so,” Gabrielle recalled when her mind wandered back to the days when she’d been her Lord’s body slave.

“At the time I had a need to communicate with you, only I didn’t know how to go about it. You must understand, before you I had no such desire to connect with a bedmate. So I spoke mostly about matters I…” the Conqueror’s voice trailed off.

Gabrielle found it sweet and disheartening at the same time – Sweet, because she knew how difficult it was for her Lord to admit incompetence, and disheartening because of what had been deprived of her, from the both of them for so long.

“May I ask, my Lord, what prompted you last night to… when the subject of children arose…” the Queen asked delicately so as not anger her Lord again.

“During the birth of our daughter you lost a lot of blood. Your life was in grave jeopardy. I ordered all present in your bedchamber to leave. I remained alone with you.” The Conqueror’s expression became haunted by the painful memories of that day, and fixated her gaze upon the sea as if to calm herself. “You were so pale, so fragile and so weak you could barely draw breath. I bathed you and cleaned your bed, my Lady, and I never left your side. I witnessed the light about you fast extinguishing… I felt such trepidation at the thought of losing you. I don’t understand how the rest…”

“How the rest of us mere mortals suffer fear on a daily basis, my Lord!?” the Queen teased and made the Conqueror laugh at her own condescension.

While Gabrielle allowed a few moments to pass by before she revisited the subject again, she reveled in the notion that the Lord Conqueror of the Realm, the most fearless of all warriors, feared but one thing, losing her, her beloved.

“No one has told me that it was you, my Lord, who had cared for me. I wasn’t aware of how it affected you and how profoundly so.”

“I don’t ever want to experience that feeling again. I love you too much, Gabrielle, and I refuse to lose you.”

“I understand, my Lion. You won’t lose me. I will never bring up the subject of conceiving again,” the Queen promised. She realized then just how truly intense and awesome was her Lord’s love towards her, for she was willing to forgo securing her own dynasty rather than risk going through life without her dearly loved Queen.

“I have never prayed to the Gods and never asked them for anything in my entire life until that day in your bedchamber. I prayed to the Goddess Athena to heal you and a few short candle-marks later you opened your beautiful eyes.”

It was then that the Queen finally learned the true reason for to her Lord’s wish to name her heir after the Goddess. When the Conqueror had first suggested the name, the Queen assumed it had been for the Goddess’ attributes and talents of war, wisdom, courage, strength and strategy. Now she realized that it had been plain gratitude. The Conqueror had named their child after Athena to give praises to the Goddess whom she’d thought had healed her love and to glorify the Goddess’ name for her healing skills, and no other skill.

The Queen’s eyes were misty with tears again.

The Conqueror’s lips found their way to her Queen’s eyelids and kissed them gently. “And you never suspected how I felt?” she asked. “After all I asked you to marry me…”

“I was led to believe that your marriage proposal was a demonstration of your will and power supremacy for the benefit of the Realm’s nobility. Only Princess Lao-Ling seemed to have seen through my Lord’s true motivation.”

“Is that so?” the Conqueror cocked her head, looked at her wife and raised an eyebrow.

“Indeed, my Lord. Soon after my Lord’s proposal she told me that my Lord bore great affection towards me.”

“She is wise, I’ll grant her that,” the Conqueror said and the Queen nodded in agreement. “She wasn’t the only one, you know. My mother seemed to notice our true feelings towards one another as well.”

“Really!?” It was the Queen’s turn to be surprised. “Lady Satrina knew how I felt towards you as well. It would seem that we weren’t able to see that which we couldn’t believe to be true.”

“Tell me, beloved; tell me when you first started to feel love towards me,” the Conqueror sounded very eager to know.

“I think…” the Queen pondered and momentarily halted her speech, “Since the first time I saw you, my Lord.”

“On the slaver’s platform?” the Conqueror asked.

“That wasn’t the first time I saw you, my Lord,” Gabrielle pointed out and anticipated her Lord’s eyes getting wider with growing surprise.

“The first time my eyes met you was the day of your enthroning in Corinth , my Lord. I was twelve years old then,” Gabrielle smiled like one would when reminiscing about a fond memory. “My father took Lila and me to Corinth to watch the festive parade in your honor. I could only see you from a distance, of course, but the power exuding from the Destroyer of Nations reached and grabbed hold of me, nonetheless. My Lord was so strong, so beautiful, and so majestic I could feel my heart being enslaved by you right then and there. You taught me what desire was that day.”

The Conqueror was dumbstruck and when she heard her beloved wife tell the story of her love for her, she could feel her heart beating painfully in her chest.

“I realize now, that when I stood on the slaver’s platform under your piercing eyes, I was as much terrified by your towering presence, my Lord, as by my own emotions towards you,” the Queen whispered and looked down on the green diamond on her wee finger.

The Conqueror collected her Queen in her arms and pressed her tightly against her body.

“You never cease to amaze me, my precious Gabrielle. I remember how astonished I was to learn that it was you who saved my life on the road back from Persia . You sacrificed your freedom, your life and future happiness in order to save me, your Owner and Master. I realized then that I would do the same for you. Such is the power you wield over me.”

“I have neither life, nor freedom nor happiness without you, Xena, and trust that I would never use the love you bear me to either hurt or manipulate you.”

“I know, Gabrielle. Still no one can know I love you. Not a soul.”

“I understand, my Lord. I will keep your great love, our great love a secret upon the pain of death.”

“Thank you, my wife.”

A full moon rose and washed the Royal couple with its pale silvery light. The Conqueror got up and made her way to their bedchamber, took a blanket, and returned to the terrace. She covered her wife’s body in order to protect her from the night’s biting chill.

“We haven’t eaten all day. I’m going down to the kitchen to prepare a light supper to feed my Queen.”

Gabrielle darted off the heap of cushions she was lying on as if she was bitten by a snake.

“I think it is unwise to let you venture into the kitchen unsupervised, my Lord,” the Queen taunted with a smile and covered her nude body with one of the Conqueror’s robes, which was too sizable for her small frame.

“You have only just discovered my true feelings towards you and already you are taking liberties and being disrespectful,” the Conqueror burst into thunderous laughter.

The Queen pressed her body against her Lord’s. “Never, my dreaded Lord,” she said.

The Royal couple strolled down the stairs and entered the kitchen.

“What would you like to eat, my Lord?” the Queen asked, but when she glanced at her Lord’s features she got an idea as to her Lord’s appetite.

With one swift motion of her arm over the kitchen table’s surface, the Conqueror cleared the wooden table, letting all the items previously on top of it fall down and scatter over the floor beneath it in disarray, aside from a small bowl with some virgin olive oil in it.

“You know what I would like to eat, Gabrielle, so serve me and sate my hunger.”

The Queen smiled knowingly. She pushed back the Conqueror’s robe from her shoulders. She approached the wooden table, and bent over it, splaying her breasts and stomach against its smooth surface.

With her chin resting against the table, Gabrielle heard her Lord closing the gap between them and positioning herself closely behind her. Next she felt the twin moons of her buttocks being lustfully kneaded by the Conqueror’s hands.

“Have I told you how much I adore the dimples above this perfect asset of yours?” the Conqueror asked and squeezed the limber, taut flesh in her hands for emphasis.

“You have, my Lord,” the Queen moaned as fresh fluids began to trickle down her thighs. She remembered when it was exactly that her Lord had spoken these words to her before. It had been the night the Conqueror had offered her wine, which did wonders to loosen her inhibitions.

Next the Queen felt her twin globes being parted and her Lord’s scorching breath against the sensitive flesh of her rear opening.

The Queen readied herself. She clutched the table’s upper edges above her head with her small hands and closed her eyes in anticipation.

The Conqueror’s long, warm and moist tongue rimmed Gabrielle’s anus then pushed through the tight ring of muscles.

“Oh, dear Lord,” Gabrielle whimpered and held her breath. The sensations that shot through her petite wanton body by her Lord’s thick tongue wriggling inside her rear opening toughened her clit. The pleasure was so intense she wanted to scream.

She soon needed more, deeper more powerful strokes into her. She felt her Lord backing away from her and soon the sweet contact between her Lord’s tongue and her opening was lost. Gabrielle saw her Lord dipping her hand into the virgin olive oil and a shiver ran down her spine.

The Conqueror roved her oil-laden fingers over silk folds and smeared it over the small nodule of Gabrielle’s sex. Her hand moved to rub the slippery oil over the heated skin of Gabrielle’s backside and anointed the puckered crevice. Then she delivered a hard flat spank to the perky flesh of her ass, leaving it tingling hot.

“It feels so good, my Lord,” she sighted under her breath.

“It makes you so wet between your legs when I spank this sassy ass of yours, doesn’t it?”

“You are welcome to verify for yourself, my Lord,” Gabrielle wished this sweet torture would never end.

“Not so fast, you little minx. I am not in the habit of rewarding pleasure for insolence.”

Gabrielle could hear that her Lord’s last sentence was spoken through smiling lips – Oh and how she welcomed the play.

The Conqueror raised her arm in the air, and then landed another solid smack to the buttocks that drove her wild with desire. The sound of the flesh being beaten sent her lust soaring higher.

“Not allowed into the kitchen unsupervised, am I?” the Conqueror sneered, letting her open palm forcefully connect with the Queen’s buttocks, sending ripples through the trembling flesh, ripples that shook the Queen’s womanhood as well.

“I pray you, forgive your humbled servant, my Lord,” Gabrielle offered somewhat conflicted, for she wished her Lord’s disciplining her to continue.

“Not sounding too sure, are we?” the Conqueror noticed and introduced a strike so powerful it pushed the table slightly frontward with the Queen still on top of it.

Gabrielle’s oiled flesh simmered with red fire where her Lord had struck her.

“In all humility, my beloved Lord, I beseech you to accept my apology.” Gabrielle simply adored every aspect of this private game they played.

The Conqueror considered her wife’s ardent plea and the shade of red coloring the imprint of her palm left on her Queen’s buttocks. She placed her chiseled leg between her Queen’s legs and kicked sideways to prompt her wife to widen her spread. She dipped her hand into the virgin oil a second time and daubed the greasy substance along her hefty shaft.

It went smoothly into the Queen’s rear entrance and crammed its way into her depth with nothing to hinder its steadfast advance.

“Thank you, my gracious Lord,” the Queen purred as she felt her Lord’s body blanketing her back, and two strong arms slick with oil sliding over her own arms and lodging over her hands at the edge of the table.

Snared under her Lord’s body weight, the Queen felt loved, protected and yet deliciously helpless, completely at the mercy of her Lord and lover.

The pace that the Conqueror set was slow. Almost gently her oil-polished member stoutly cleaved inside Gabrielle’s back cavern and drew out again. Her bleak glare met the dutiful body lying passively beneath her.

“Give me your lips, wife,” the Conqueror commanded and Gabrielle turned her head and offered her parted lips.

The Conqueror gorged upon the sweet mouth, and sent her loins forward. With her deep thrusts, she pressed her lover’s throbbing womanhood against the lower edges of the table over and over again, providing her with relief for her growing need.

The Conqueror’s muscles flexed against the Queen’s body with the effort of ramming and grinding in and out of her. It was one of the sensations the Queen cherished most. For her, it was her Lord’s intimate way of unleashing power and she felt it on her very flesh.

Gabrielle felt her Lord’s movements becoming shorter and more insistent.

The fire within them coursed through their sweating bodies then violently erupted, and surged out of them. The Conqueror pressed down hard against her Queen, thoroughly milking the powerful release for all its worth.

They remained connected to one another in that position for several long moments.

“I still love and crave my Lord’s darkness and I shall welcome and receive it always with unlimited love and desire,” the Queen needed to assure.

The Conqueror planted an exhausted kiss on her Queen’s blushed cheek.

“Know that my love for you is and will be constant and present, even if it is concealed from others around us. When we are alone, I will reveal it for you to witness and feel, always.”

“Then I wish we never had to leave Thira , my Lord.”

“We shall remain here for a fortnight, and it is my solemn oath to you that we shall visit here as often as we can,” the Conqueror said and withdrew from her wife.

The Queen staggered back to stand on her legs.

“Thank you, my Lord. Now, what would you wish to eat?

***

The Royal couple stayed in Thira for nearly a moon before they returned back to Corinth , back to their duties and responsibilities. During this moon they spent their time fishing, swimming, exploring the land, hunting and loving.
Part 28
As soon as they returned back from Thira , Lady Satrina was summoned to appear before the Conqueror and the Queen in the Great Hall.

When she entered, soon after the ceremony master announced her name, her legs were visibly shaking and her teeth were chattering. She had no doubts as for the reason and she was grateful that no one else attended the Great Hall.

The Queen kept her head raised and her gazed fixated on her lady in waiting, even though it was difficult for her to look into her dear friend’s eyes under these circumstances, she did for she knew her Lord would expect it of her.

“Lady Satrina,” the Conqueror addressed her, holding the arms of her throne.

The Lady curtsied deeply and could barely find the strength to lift her body back up to stand upright.

“Your Majesties,” she managed.

“How find you Captain Cornelius?” the Conqueror asked.

At first, the lady Satrina failed to understand why Captain Cornelius’ name would be brought up, and for a moment she thought perhaps the Queen hadn’t divulged her great secret to the Conqueror.

“He is an honorable man, your Majesty,” she replied, trying not to sound too confused.

“Very well then, it would please me if you married Captain Cornelius and moved to live with him as his wife in Philippi ,” the Conqueror said.

Realization finally caught up with lady Satrina. She understood that the Lord Conqueror was in effect sending her far away from them and binding her in marriage to put off any notion of possible love she had towards the Royal couple.

It broke her heart and spirit.

Lady Satrina’s deep sorrow presented itself upon her delicate features and the Queen wasn’t blind to it, for ever since she had met lady Satrina, the lady had shown her nothing but kindness and respect. Aside from sentiments of great friendship, the Queen felt indebted to her lady in waiting. She didn’t wish to inflict such misery by forcing her friend to marry a man she neither loved nor cared for. It was cruel, the Queen believed, and would bring about utter devastation upon her devoted friend.

And so, she placed her hand, on which she wore the green diamond ring that her Lord had given her in Thira , on her Lord’s hand to engross her attention.

“If it pleases you, and with my Lord permission, may I suggest another course of action for your generous heart to consider, my Lord?” the Queen asked.

“You may, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied.

“It might please you better, my Lord, if I sent lady Satrina to Chin to serve as lady in waiting to Princess Lao-Ling? Perhaps she might find a more suitable mate and to show my appreciation for her great service to me and the Realm, we shall vouch to pay a handsome dowry should a future eligible suitor ask her hand in marriage?”

There was silence in the Great Hall while the Queen and lady Satrina both waited anxiously for the Lord Conqueror’s response, and then it came – at first it started with a small chuckle, then it rolled into a healthier one till it became a full-hearted laughter.

It was infectious. Both the Queen and lady Satrina could no longer contain their joy and joined their Sovereign in laughter.

“It does please me better, my Lady. So be it,” the Conqueror rendered her final verdict when at last her laughter subsided.

“Thank you, your Majesties. Thank you for your infinite benevolence.” Lady Satrina curtsied before them.

“You may take your leave and prepare yourself for the long journey ahead of you, dear Satrina,” the Queen said.

Lady Satrina curtsied one last time then backed away from her Rulers, leaving them alone in the Great Hall.

The Conqueror rose from her throne, and went to kneel before her Queen’s throne.

“Aphrodite herself couldn’t have resolved the matter more elegantly, my Lady,” the Conqueror complimented and placed a kiss atop the Queen’s ring finger.

The Queen smiled, “Lady Satrina’s heart desires a woman and I suspect my sister, Princess Lao-Ling shares that desire. Their hearts might meet and touch, my Lord.”

The Conqueror sighed deeply, “How fortunate I am for having you, Gabrielle.”

“As fortunate as I am for having you, my Lord,” the Queen replied.

***

The years seemed to have flown by swiftly. As the Queen had hoped, a profound affinity developed and flourished between Princess Lao-Ling and lady Satrina, and as promised the Realm paid a substantial dowry and traveled to the land of Chin to attend the Royal wedding. Alas, a few years later tragedy struck. . A mercenary sent by the rival house of Tzu poisoned Princess Lao-Ling. Lady Satrina, consort to the Princess, managed to flee the Land of Chin as soon as she discovered her spouse’s purplish cold body lying next to her at daybreak with a suspicious looking black substance oozing from her mouth and nostril. She was allowed by the Conqueror and the Queen to return back to the Realm after years in exile. In the safety of the Realm, the Queen and the inconsolable lady Satrina could mourn the untimely passing of the beloved Princess.

“Take comfort in the love that the two of you shared,” the Queen offered, though she knew perfectly well that had it not been for that love, lady Satrina would have been spared the current heartbreak.

During the first few nights after news of the Princess’ death had reached Corinth , Queen Gabrielle lay in the arms of her Lord and wept her bitter agony, for Princess Lao-Ling was as close and as dear to her as her own flesh and blood.

“It breaks my heart to see you suffer such tremendous pain, Gabrielle.” The Conqueror wished there was something she could do to ease her beloved’s anguish.

“Just keep holding me close to your heart, my Lord,” the Queen requested in between sobs.

“I’ve got you, my love,” the Conqueror whispered and pressed her Queen closer against her chest. “I know how you feel. I’ve lost a brother, too.” The Conqueror sounded haunted.

Gabrielle lifted up her head and quietly stared at her lover, waiting for her to proceed.

“Lyceus was my younger brother. He was closer to me than anyone else and I loved him dearly. We used to fish and spar together. His heart was pure and courageous just like yours, my love.”

“Go on, my Lion. Tell me more about him,” the Queen encouraged her Lord.

“His hair was fair…not as fair as yours, though.” The Conqueror smiled and the Queen mirrored the gesture.

“He died whilst defending Amphipolis alongside me against the warlord Cortese. When he died, I felt like I’d lost my best friend, my only friend, who loved me unconditionally for who and what I was without judgment and without reservation. He followed me into battle with Cortese even though he wasn’t as good a swordsman as I was, and so for years I’ve blamed myself for his death. For a while my mother has blamed me for his death as well and banished me.”

“I’m so sorry, my Lord. It must have been so awful… you must have felt so alone.” Gabrielle extended her arms and engulfed her Lord’s strong and larger frame. At that moment, she wished she could have met her Lord back then and offered her comfort and companionship.

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry for.” The Conqueror planted a kiss on her Queen’s forehead. “For years after his death I’d grown accustomed to loneliness but then you entered my life and I became weary of my loneliness. It was when I first learned that you cared for me that my loneliness abated. All I ask of you is that you remember that I’m always here for you and allow me to comfort you and help carry the burden of your loss with you.”

“Thank you, Xena,” Gabrielle settled back to rest her head against the Conqueror’s chest, and as she was listening to her Lord’s strong heartbeats, a different sort of bereavement descended upon the Queen.
“What is it, love?” the Conqueror asked concerned, and coaxed her wife to meet her gaze.

“What if I ever lost you, my Lord? What if one day you won’t return from the battlefield? What if death takes you away from me?” the Queen’s delicate shoulders trembled with ceaseless sobs. She had once faced the notion of losing her Lord, only now they were bonded by love; she knew the loss of her beloved would devastate her to the point of not wishing to go on living without her but follow her beloved Lord to the underworld.

“I will never leave you,” the Conqueror vowed. She would have said anything to alleviate her wife’s sorrow and dire concerns.

“You cannot promise me that, my Lord.” The Queen was beyond pain and almost angry. She was out of her mind with grief for a loss she had yet to endure. “What if death takes me away from you?”

The Conqueror spent all her legendary willpower to mask the only thing she truly dreaded, but still it wasn’t enough. “I don’t think I could survive your death, Gabrielle, and I rue neither would the world when I’m through with it.”

“You will make me a promise, my Lord, that in the event of my death you’ll control your darkness.”

The Conqueror pursed her lips and said nothing.

The Queen became agitated when no response came from her Lord. “Promise me!”

“You have my word,” the Conqueror finally said halfheartedly.

“Promise me that you’ll take care of our daughter,” Gabrielle went on to demand.

“I promise you, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror’s eyes began to sting with unshed tears.

“I promise you the same, and I shall make you another promise,” the Queen proclaimed as she cupped her Lord’s fetching face in her small hands. “If death takes me away from you, I shan’t board Charon’s ferry but wait on the bank of the River Styx for you so that we may go together to the Elysian Fields.”

“After everything I’ve done in my life, my precious wife… I won’t be going to the Elysian Fields, but to Tartarus,” the Conqueror sighed deeply.

“You did what you had to do… the best you could do with what you were given, my Lord. I shall argue on your behalf… and if I fail, I swear to you, I will never part with you. I shall follow you gladly to Tartarus.”

The Conqueror captured Gabrielle’s lips as if they were the source of life and kissed her deeply. “I will never condemn you to…”

“I am Queen of the Realm. I am your wife. I go where you go,” the Queen spoke with such conviction that it nearly gave her Lord pause.

“So be it,” the Conqueror stated and delved her fingers into her love’s golden hair.

“Please, my Lion,” the Queen’s voice was urgent and imploring, “Make tender love to me. I need to become one with you. I need to become flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood, tonight.”

“Are you sure?” the Conqueror whispered. She wanted nothing more than to weld their wanting bodies together with love and passion.

“Must I beg?” the Queen asked breathlessly.

“Never, my love,” replied the Conqueror before she pressed her lips to the Queen’s.

As Conqueror and Queen made love that night, desperately melting into one another, they could no longer tell when one of them ended and the other began.

***

The Conqueror bided her time until turmoil between the two houses simmered down. When both battered houses remained dwindled in arms and fighters after a lengthy war, she made her move and marched her vast forces into the ravaged domain and aggressively conquered the ripe lands of Chin in a brilliant campaign.

Out of respect for Lao-Ma and her daughter and on the Queen’s wise advice, she appointed the former ambassador Sing-Xian as governor to the new province of the Realm.

During those years, the Conqueror kept each and every promise she had made to her consort; they visited their daughter and heir to the throne in Rome as often as the Queen desired. She even succumbed to her wife’s constant petitions to abolish slavery completely throughout the Realm. They spent every available moment they had in their treasured isle of Thira . They freely expressed their love for one another whenever they were alone.

When Princess Athena became of age, she returned to the Corinthian palace, much to the Queen’s relief and delight. The headmaster of the Roman Military Academy sent a letter with the recent graduate stating that the Princess excelled in her trainings and studies and surpassed her classmates and most of her teachers as well. “We have nothing more to teach her,” his letter read, and there was no one prouder than the Conqueror.

A huge and festive banquet was held in the Great Hall in honor of the returning Princess. The Conqueror and the Queen introduced the Realm’s nobility and highest-ranking officers to their future Sovereign. But it was a young dark-haired lass that captivated young Athena’s attention in particular.

Her name was Antonia. She was the youngest daughter of Delos, a very affluent merchant of weaponry from Thessaly , who was one of the Realm’s primary suppliers, and a close advisor to the Conqueror.

But Princess Athena wasn’t the only one who was captured by Antonia’s beauty. Germanicus, Lady Lila’s youngest boy and nephew to the Queen, admired Antonia as well.

Princess Athena stood in the middle of the Great Hall. The years had added considerably to her stature. Her skin tone was tanned by hours upon hours of training outside on the drilling fields beneath the Roman sun. Strong agile muscles carved Princess Athena’s slim figure and her features seemed to have been shaped by the same mold as the Conqueror’s. She wore black leather trousers as did the Conqueror, a light armor adorned her torso, a black cloak with crimson inner lining covered her proud shoulders and a sword rested against her right thigh.

“To the Lord Conqueror and the Queen, Rulers of the world!” Athena exclaimed as she raised a goblet of wine in the air at the general direction of her parents, perched on their thrones. “Your Majesties,” she bowed before them.

All in attendance raised their goblets in honor of their Rulers and bowed and curtsied before them.

The Conqueror raised her own goblet. “You have made her Majesty the Queen and me very proud. Welcome home. To you, your Grace!”

Their esteemed guests bowed before their future ruler and emptied their goblets.

The Princess took her seat to the Conqueror’s left at the Royal table resplendent with marvelous dishes and drinks.

The Conqueror leaned to her right and whispered in the Queen’s ear, “Are you well contented, my Lady?”

“I am, thank you my Lord,” the Queen replied.

“Tomorrow,” the Conqueror turned her attention to the Princess, “you will join me and attend all my meetings with me, Athena,” the Conqueror informed the Princess.

“Surely some time for rest should be allowed so that the Princess…” the Queen began to say, but was interrupted.

“I have given my orders, Madame,” the Conqueror ruled. She was strong in her mind to outwardly maintain and demonstrate the charade and hide any hint of love and devotion she felt towards her Queen.

“Of course, my Lord. Forgive me,” the Queen slightly lowered her head. Beneath the table, with the tablecloth cloaking her actions, she touched the Conqueror’s thigh, letting her Lord know she understood.

The Conqueror signaled one of her servants to refill her empty goblet, and then asked her daughter, “So what do you wish to know about power, Athena?”

“Please, tell me everything you know, your Majesty,” replied the young Princess eagerly and carved the deer meat on her plate before her.

“Power is to have others submit to your will completely,” the Conqueror said and gulped a mouth-full of wine. “The first thing you need to learn about power is that it is very deceptive, and not always detectable, or better yet, correctly discerned and recognized. The wise would know to identify who wields true power and who effectively wears one of power’s many costumes.”

“Costumes, Majesty?” the Princess asked.

“Great wealth is one of power’s costumes, the strength of an arm is another and so is a talented sword.” The Conqueror leaned back against her throne. “Wisdom… wisdom is one of power’s most potent costumes. Do you see the guard standing behind and to the Queen’s right?”

The Princess’ gaze searched for the guard to whom the Conqueror had referred.

The Conqueror went on to say, “His swordplay skills nearly match my own.”

An impressed expression was evident across the young Princess’ features. “Then he must be the most powerful soldier in your Majesty’s army.”

“No he isn’t. Of course he could fend off a dozen other warriors with his weapon, but what if there are twenty of them? His sword won’t help him and he is not clever enough to confront them with other methods. The guard standing next to him has a quick and clever mind. Together, they make the ultimate warrior.”

The young Princess nodded with understanding.

“Do you see Nobleman Arkilis over there?” the Conqueror moved on to her next example, “He is the bold slim one wearing the black robe with the gold studs.”

“He seems very rich,” the young Princess gave voice to her observation.

“Indeed. He is the richest man in the Realm and governs Thrace , the most thriving of provinces.”

“Then he must be the most powerful nobleman, is he not?”

“What I’m about to tell you, you must keep to yourself,” the Conqueror leaned over closer to her daughter and lowered her voice significantly.

“I give you my word, Majesty.”

“He is hopelessly in lust with his stable boy. What this lad wants this lad gets. Nobleman Arkilis’ wife has yet to be made aware of her husband’s infidelity. Another thing you must understand is that the lion part of his fortune comes from her and her family… He doesn’t seem so powerful now, does he?”

“I reckon he is not, Majesty,” the Princess replied.

“Power comes from within you. No one gives it to you, but some can take it away. You should hold on to your power zealously and never allow anyone to take it away from you no matter the cost.”

“I understand, Majesty.”

“Who, do you think, is the most powerful person in the Great Hall?” asked the Conqueror.

“Your Majesty, of course,” Princess Athena replied with neither hesitation nor stipulation.

But what Princess Athena didn’t see was the Conqueror’s hand gently squeezing her beloved Queen’s hand beneath the table.

When the banquet was over, the Princess retired to her chambers and the Conqueror and the Queen retired to theirs.

“Athena is very beautiful and very bright, my Lord,” the Queen whispered in her Lord’s ear.

“Of course she is. Just look at her mother,” the Conqueror replied affectionately.
“Does my Lord have passion for me still?” the Queen asked as she turned her back to her Lord in a silent request that her Lord would assist her in unclasping her necklace.

The Conqueror kissed her wife’s nape and released the jewel from around her neck. She then gently removed the Queen’s crown, careful not to pull any entangled gold tresses.

“I should think that last night’s activities in our bed would have provided you with a sufficient answer to your question, my love. But if you desire to hear the words…” The Conqueror took off her own crown, placed it over her desk, turned to face her Queen and embraced her closely to her heart, “Like the day you were but a young, slip of lass standing on the platform shivering when you first caught my eye all those years ago.” She spoke softly.

“And love?” the Queen kept on asking.

“My love for you is the greatest miracle of all for it grows daily. I love you more today than I did yesterday and even though it doesn’t seem possible to me now, I know that tomorrow I shall love you even more than I do today,” the Conqueror replied.

“I sometimes wonder, my Lord, which one of us is the poet,” the Queen quipped.

The Queen clung to her Lord a while longer, then she went to sit at her dressing table and brush her golden hair, which maintained its glowing color despite the years that had gone by, then rubbed perfumed oil into her skin and carefully examined it for any imperfections, which the Conqueror assured her didn’t exist.

“Our daughter seems to share your penchant for women, my Lord.” The Queen sounded amused if not pleased.

“Doesn’t she share yours, my Lady?” the Conqueror inquired.

The Queen chuckled. “I would imagine so, my Lord, though I have never desired anyone else but you my entire life,” she said and joined her Lord in bed.

“Does it bother you?” the Conqueror asked and wrapped her arms around the Queen.

“Not in the least. I am happy that my heart was a virgin when first you touched it, my Lord,” she answered and pressed herself closer to her Lord.

The Conqueror adjusted her body to better fit the Queen. “Does it bother you that I have known many women before you?”

“Did you give your heart to any of them, my Lord?”

“My heart was as virgin as yours was when first you touched it.”

“Then your love is all that I could ever want or need, and anything else is of no consequence,” the Queen whispered and caressed the chiseled planes of the Conqueror’s face with her lips then captured the Conqueror’s lips with her own.

“So tell me, my wise Queen, who it is that has caught our daughter’s eye,” the Conqueror asked when the kiss ended and her mouth was free to speak.

“I only caught a glimpse of her, but she was a dark-haired lass and pretty as a flower,” the Queen replied, quite amused.

“Hmmm…” muttered the Conqueror. “We should discuss the issue with her, don’t you think?”

“Perhaps it is best to let her come to us so as not to embarrass her.”

The Conqueror weighed her wife’s words as she blew out the candles burning on her nightstand. “I think you’re right, my Lady.”
Part 29
The Queen’s foresight and assessment was accurate, for not seven days had gone by before Princess Athena approached her.

“Her Grace, Princess Athena,” announced one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, while the Queen was sitting in her chambers and mending one of the Conqueror’s shirts. Of course there were servants for these types of things, but the Queen saw it as an intimate labor of love and so she was only too happy to mend the Conqueror’s shirts when time permitted.

The Queen carefully laid down her Lord’s cotton white shirt on top of a nearby ornately carved table so as not to crease the fabric, then her needle and her thimble.

The Princess strode into the Queen’s chambers as the Queen’s ladies in waiting curtsied before her, muttering “Your Grace.”

“Your Majesty,” Princess Athena bowed before her mother.

“Your Grace,” the Queen tipped her head.

“There is a… delicate matter…I seek your wise advice… it is of a… private nature,” the young golden-haired Princess stuttered.

The Queen looked closely at her daughter. The resemblance between Athena and her Lord was so striking that she couldn’t help but wonder whether her Lord had ever been hesitant in her youth.

The Queen signaled her ladies to leave her presence and once alone, the Queen tapped the chair next to hers, beckoning her daughter to sit down next to her.

“What is troubling you, Athena?” the Queen asked softly once her daughter was seated.

Athena opened her mouth several times then reconsidered before she voiced her thoughts. “Lately I’ve been having these… urges… like a pressure… a sort of need, really… in my…” Athena dropped her gaze.

“You have matured, my dear child. Carnal desire has awakened in you and it is perfectly natural,” the Queen smiled kindly and placed a gentle hand over her daughter’s knee. “Has anyone in particular evoked these needs in you?” she prodded.

“Some lasses more than others,” Athena answered vaguely.

The wise Queen elected not to press on the matter. The young should keep some things secret from their parents. She certainly had.

“There will be lasses who will evoke nothing more than carnal desire in you, and some who will also evoke other feelings in you. Wisdom is to differentiate between the two, for at times it will prove to be quite confusing. Do you understand?”

The Queen wished more than anything to tell her daughter all about the wonders and joys of true love, but she didn’t. She knew the Princess was born to rule the Empire and become a successor to her Lord one day. Every aspect of her life was bound to that duty, even matters of the heart, and that was the Lord Conqueror’s domain.

“I think I do, mother,” the young Princess replied pondering.

“As for your private needs, my Lord is better and more appropriate to handle the matter than I,” the Queen concluded.

Princess Athena seemed deep in thought and her foot began to rapidly tap against the ground.

The Queen smiled knowingly. “Would you prefer it if I spoke to my Lord on your behalf regarding the matter?” she asked.

The Princess was instantly relieved. “Thank you, mother, I would.”

The Queen stood up and so did the Princess, who had grown taller than her mother.

“Look at you,” The Queen’s eyes weld up with unshed tears as she clasped her precious daughter’s hands in hers, “…all grown up.”

Princess Athena held her mother in her arms. “I love you, mother,” she whispered.

“I love you too, Athena,” the Queen replied and sniffled.

***

That very night, when the Conqueror and the Queen were alone in their bedchamber readying themselves for bed, the Queen put on her nightgown and said to her Lord, “Athena has requested that I would address a certain delicate matter with you on her behalf, my Lord.”

“What is it?” asked the Conqueror, who was sitting at her desk in nothing more than her breeches, and with her nose buried in a scroll.

“It would appear that she is experiencing the awakening of sexual lust.” The Queen was a tad annoyed that her Lord wasn’t paying her, her full undivided attention hence her blunt choice of words.

However, at the mentioning of sexual desire in reference to the Princess, the Conqueror quickly discarded the scroll and turned to look at her wife. She let out a deep sigh. “Where did time disappear?” she muttered heavily, when she realized that her daughter truly had matured.

“We’re still young, my Lord.” The Queen approached her Lord’s desk, wrapped her loving arms around her neck and pressed her Lord’s head against her warm bosom.

The Conqueror took comfort listening to her Queen’s steady heartbeats.

“What do you intend to do, my Lord?” the Queen asked.

“I’ll instruct her, as is my responsibility, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied.

“May I ask how, my Lord?” the Queen inquired.

“Are you sure you want to know, my Lady?” the Conqueror answered with a question of her own.

“I do, my Lord,” the Queen decided not without difficulty. She released her arms from around her beloved Lord and seated herself atop her Lords knees.

“You do realize she in not like anyone else, my Love,” the Conqueror was gentle for she knew her words were about to cause her wife grief.

“I do, my Lion,” the Queen lowered her head and braced herself against what was about to come.

“Her destiny is to rule the Empire, to rule the world. Not a smudge of weakens should ever be apparent on her. For the survival of this great Realm and our subjects nothing is to thwart her path, neither a loving heart nor any perception of softness. She will take my place one day and ours is lust and power, my beloved, and she has yet to master hers.”

The Conqueror harvested a single tear that slid down her wife’s beautiful features.

“You intend to take her to a brothel.” The Queen’s reply sounded somewhere between a question and a statement. Her stomach was churning.

“I do so intend, my Lady,” the Conqueror confirmed. “Some of the building blocks of the pathos around me were formed and created in brothels as much as on battlefields.”

“Although I comprehend it, it is hard for me to accept it.” The Queen’s voice was smothered by deep sorrow that clogged her throat.

She climbed into bed and heard her Lord climb into bed as well. As they lay together in the dark, she felt her Lord’s large hand being laid gently on her shoulder. The Queen didn’t move. She kept still and didn’t turn around to face her Lord.

“Do not be angry with me, my Love,” the Conqueror requested, “for I cannot stand to suffer your chill.”

The Queen became reconciled and turned to lie facing her Lord. “I’m not angry with you, my Lord, I only resent…”

“I know,” the Conqueror understood, “I give you my word that I shall do my very best to educate her so that she conducts herself in an honorable fashion and that nothing she does will ever cause you shame, my Lady.”

“It eases my mind tremendously, my Lion,” the Queen said, while her fingers worked fastidiously to untie the silk laces of her Lord’s breeches. “Now love me, my Lord,” she asked.

The Conqueror raised a questioning eyebrow.

“I find it preferable to send my Lion into the chicken coop with a full belly rather than an empty one,” the Queen teased, but kept a perfectly earnest expression about her countenance.

“I wouldn’t…” the Conqueror began to say, but the Queen placed a single finger over her lips and shushed her down.

“I know, my Lord,” she whispered ardently and guided the Conqueror’s hands beneath her nightgown to her heated breasts.

***

The next evening the Conqueror collected Princess Athena from her chambers and both made their way to the Imperial stables. They rode side by side outside the palace gates and into the center of the city of Corinth .

“May I ask where are we going, Majesty?” asked the Princess and threw a curious glance at a leather bag, which hung over the Conqueror’s left shoulder.

“To a place where your private needs will be satisfied,” the Conqueror replied.

Young Athena nearly regretted ever approaching the Queen with this issue. She didn’t know what to say and severe embarrassment washed over her.

The expression across her daughter’s face didn’t go unnoticed by the Conqueror. “There is nothing shameful about it. It is a natural basic need like hunger or thirst. It is like the need to sleep when you’re tired, like the air needed to live. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Majesty.”

A few moments later the Conqueror halted her horse and dismounted it. Athena followed the Conqueror’s actions. They tied the animals outside and entered the renowned brothel, which was famous for the fine selection of women it stocked.

A thought crossed Athena’s mind. She saw how confidently the Conqueror had navigated them through Corinth ‘s streets and to the brothel, which made Athena realize that the Conqueror was far from being a stranger to the establishment.

“Your Majesty,” curtsied an elderly woman at the entrance, vulgarly dressed, and although her face was moderately wrinkled, it was evident that she was once of great beauty. She hid well her surprise at the sight of the Conqueror, which many years ago had been a frequent patron of her establishment, till one day around the 6 th anniversary of the Conqueror’s reign her visits had abruptly and inexplicably stopped.

“Madam Atia,” the Conqueror greeted.

“Your Grace,” madam Atia curtsied before Princess Athena, who returned the greeting with a slight nod of her head.

Athena looked around the entrance hall, which was dimly lit and well maintained. There were a few settees covered in red velvet and oriental rugs covered the wooden floorboards. However, what fascinated young Athena the most were the lewd and lecherous murals portraying bare men and women engaging in various sexual positions.

“What can I do for you, Majesty?” the seasoned madam Atia asked.

“I wish to rent one of the women for a few candle-marks,” the Conqueror replied.

And before the Conqueror finished uttering her request, madam Atia, who had always ran her enterprise diligently, clapped her hands and a dozen or so women pranced into the antechamber, and sprawled their meagerly clad figures atop the settees.

“Which one is to your liking, your Majesty?” the madam asked.

“The woman is not for me but for her Grace,” the Conqueror stated. “She needs a skilled woman to edify her about the ways of the world.”

“Very good, your Majesty. My girls are all talented and qualified for the task. If her Grace could pick one she fancies…” suggested madam Atia and shifted her gaze to the young royal.

The Princess inspected the collection on display till she spotted someone she found pleasing, a petite dark-haired young woman.

“Excellent choice, your Grace. Agrippina will take good care of you,” madam Atia clapped her hands together in satisfaction.

“Before you leave to do your business, there are a few words I wish to say to you, your Grace,” said the Conqueror.

Madam Atia directed the Conqueror and the Princess to an unoccupied chamber for privacy.

“You are to take nothing more than what your body needs from her and move on without any further attachment. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” the Princess replied.

“Under no circumstances should you allow any sentiments or other such emotions to develop towards women you take to your bed. You must not allow others such power over you, is that clear?”

“It is, your Majesty,” Athena answered, though she couldn’t possibly fully understand the entire meaning of the Conqueror’s last instruction. The Queen’s words regarding possible confusion between lust and other feelings sprung to her mind at that moment, and she couldn’t help but think about her parents. For the first time in her young life she wondered how the Conqueror and the Queen had met, what was the exact nature of their connection, what kind of sentiments, if any, existed between them, how could their bond, such as it was, best be characterized.

However, what she had observed pass between them over the years, including the summer respites they had all spent together in the Imperial villa in Rome when she had attended the Academy, had taught her better than to ask. Hearing the Conqueror tell her about not allowing women power over her through feelings made one thing perfectly clear – no one, not even her mother the Queen had a place in the Conqueror’s heart. Theirs, Athena thought, was a marriage of convenience based on common interests. She had no doubt in her mind that the Queen must have come from a powerful, rich and noble family, making her a suitable match for the Conqueror for the purpose of producing an heir – such was the prevalent practice in high levels of station.

“Never take a woman against her free will – never. Always obtain a bedmate’s consent. Give me your word.”

“You have my word, your Majesty.”

“As you grow older and more experienced, you will learn what suits you best. Should your appetites develop into the darker protocol of things, you must obtain your bedmate’s consent to each and every act you wish to commit upon her beforehand and withdraw from her as soon as she asks.”

Athena’s gaze strayed back to the leather bag on the Conqueror’s shoulder and wondered about its content.

“What did I just say?” the Conqueror sounded a tad irked when she suspected her daughter’s mind was elsewhere and wasn’t paying sufficient attention to her.

“Don’t do a thing, unless… I got it,” replied the arrogant future ruler.

“Think you’re being funny, do you!? This is no laughing matter!” the Conqueror’s impatience grew into anger. Harsher words were warranted. “There are laws in my Realm. My laws! And being my heir doesn’t mean that you are in any way above them. Should you deviate from them, even by a hair, you will be held accountable and suffer the consequences.”

A thena lowered her head until it drooped between her shoulders. “My humble apologies, your Majesty, however, I do not understand why…”

But the vexed Sovereign didn’t wait for her daughter to finish her sentence. “You needn’t understand my laws, only obey them!”

For a few short moments Athena remained mute. She didn’t fully comprehend the Conqueror’s anger. Why was the issue of a bedmate’s consent so cardinal and perhaps even personal to the Conqueror of all people? What was in this particular issue that made the Conqueror be so adamant about it?

The Conqueror’s mind wandered back to the time when she and her Queen had discussed the matter of abolishing slavery, at the Queen’s urgings. The Queen had tried to explain to her Lord, as carefully and as delicately as possible what it meant and how it felt to be someone’s body slave.

The Conqueror shifted her attention back to young Athena. “It is difficult for the likes of you and me to fully grasp… to truly understand what it is like. You and I hold ultimate power and never have to fear being forced and subjected to… others wills and desires,” she explained as best she could. “Power is not just privileges, it’s responsibilities as well – responsibilities towards those under your care, under your protection and under your rule.”

“I understand, your Majesty. I am grateful for your patience and wisdom. Your Majesty’s law will be obeyed.”

The Conqueror removed the leather bag from her shoulder, opened it and took out a leather harness with a phallus covered by soft leather, which she had had her leather craftsman make for her earlier that day.

Athena regarded the peculiar looking object but quickly understood its function. It was then that she first understood what the bulge always present at the area of the Conqueror crotch was.

“Always remember who you are,” the Conqueror said and almost ceremoniously gave the ruling tool to her daughter, as if it was a scepter. “Give this to the woman you have chosen. She will show you how to wear it and how to use it on her.”

“I will, your Majesty.”

The Conqueror handed her daughter a small pouch with coins in it. “When you rent a woman, always pay her twice what she asks,” she said then added, “And lastly, as I’ve told you, you might find pleasure in darker practices. Therefore bear in mind that outside service, you must always treat women, be they rented or otherwise, with respect.”

“Always, your Majesty.”

“I shall wait for you in the tavern across the square,” the Conqueror said when the Princess turned to leave the chamber.

When she reached the door, the Conqueror called from behind her, “Athena!”

The Princess turned to face the Conqueror again.

“One day you will find a woman worthy of your station and you will marry her, but for now, enjoy yourself.”

Athena thought she heard something softer in the Conqueror’s voice.

“Thank you, your gracious Majesty.”

Three candle-marks later, the Princess exited the brothel and went to meet with the Conqueror at the tavern. Her appearance in whole was tousled and, beneath her trousers, the well-endowed harness was fastened still around her pelvis.

“Had you enough?” the Conqueror asked.

“Yes, Majesty,” her daughter replied.

“Let us ride home, then,” she said and signaled the barmaid that she was ready to leave.

As expected, when the Conqueror entered the Imperial chambers she saw the Queen, very much awake despite the late hour of the night, sitting by the fire and waiting for her return.

“Well?!” the Queen inquired and hastened towards her Lord.

As the Conqueror disrobed she related a short version of the night’s events to her wife. When she finished, she was reclining over the pillows with Gabrielle draped over her.

“You seem troubled, my Lord,” the Queen said

“She made a jest while I explained the issue of consent. She seemed arrogant and entitled. I was arrogant as well when I was her age, but I was more settled minded and staid than her.”

“She looks so much like you, my Lord, that sometimes it is difficult to ignore the simple fact that she isn’t you.” The Queen interlaced her fingers over her Lord’s chest and rested her chin on top of them. “She is different from you, my Lord. She hasn’t led your life. She hasn’t suffered your losses; she never had to raise and command an army of villagers and to bathe in enemy’s blood to protect her homeland as you have, my Lord. These experiences shaped you, my Lord. Our daughter has led a shielded life of privilege.”

“You showed me a side of things I haven’t considered, my wise Lady,” said the Conqueror with gratitude.

“I’m confident that we have instilled in her proper morals, my Lord,” the Queen said to ease her Lord’s mind and she sincerely believed it to be true.

“When I preached to her not to take women against their will, I couldn’t help but think about the body slaves I’ve used to own for my pleasure… you especially… A body slave cannot raise an objection to service a master. I felt like a hypocrite and rightly so.”

“My Lord,” the Queen spoke softly and gazed intently into her Lord’s eyes, “You have never taken me against my will.”

“Haven’t I!?” the Conqueror asked with bitter skepticism.

“The first time you took me… If you had asked me, my Lord, I would have consented. I wanted you as much as you wanted me,” the Queen reassured her Lord. “When I explained to you what it felt like to service a master I was referring to my previous owners, not to you. You, my Lord, I’ve desired and loved. Your touch I’ve always welcomed and craved.”

The Conqueror fondly played with her Queen’s gilded silk hair, which encouraged the Queen to straddle her Lord’s strong muscled thigh.

“Nevertheless, back in those days I didn’t care whether you were willing or not. I was your master and my will was to be obeyed, and what about all the others before you?”

“You have since abolished slavery completely. You’ve decreed all body slaves freed from their owners.”

“Because you asked me to.”

“You’ve granted my wish despite the Realm’s nobility’s lurid protest and you enforced your law ever so zealously, my Lord,” the Queen maintained and began gliding her sodden womanhood against the warm firm flesh between her thighs. “Now tell me, my Lord, any of the women in the brothel tickle your fancy?”

The Conqueror chuckled and rolled over, pressing Gabrielle’s back against the bed. Once on top of her she ground herself against her wife’s thigh, pressing her own thigh against her wife’s need. “Impossible,” the Conqueror nuzzled her wife’s neck, “You are superior to all women and you have my love.”

“ Good. Now satisfy my desire, my Lord,” the Queen tangled her hand in the Conqueror’s hair and pressed her down harder against her flesh.

“Your wish is my command, my Lady. I’m happy that I have the privilege of satisfying all my family’s needs tonight. Of course one might think that being the great Conqueror of the Realm it should be the other way around…” the Conqueror feigned a frown for her wife’s amusement.

“Your needs will be satisfied amply tonight, my Lord,” the Queen chuckled and lifted her hips up so that her sex pressed firmly against her Lord’s thrusting thigh.
Part 30
“Majesties, your Grace, the Horde,” was a servant’s urgent words that interrupted the Royal family as they were taking their supper at the dining hall.

The Conqueror put her knife down, she calmly raised the daintily embroidered piece of cloth that rested on her thigh and wiped her mouth with it.

The Queen’s reaction wasn’t as calm. She remembered the stories about the Horde, which her Lord had told her. How fierce and formidable their warriors were.

“Where?” the Conqueror asked.

” Phrygia , ” the servant replied.

“A scroll and a quill,” the Conqueror ordered.

The servant approached the Conqueror and placed a blank scroll, a quill and an inkwell before her. As the Conqueror put quill to scroll and wrote down her orders, she muttered, “Tomorrow at daybreak we head out to Phrygia .”

“We, my Lord?” asked the nervous Queen even though she already knew the answer to that question. It wasn’t her life she was scared for, but the life of her daughter.

“Her Grace and I,” the Conqueror confirmed her wife’s worst fear. She put the scroll into the servant’s hand. “Deliver this to the commander of the Imperial Guard , ” she commanded, “Now!”

He bowed before her then backed away and made haste to do his Master’s bidding.

The Queen’s blood rushed from her face. She couldn’t bring herself to take another bite of the food resting on the plate before her. She pushed the plate further away from her and let out a gasp, for she felt like she was about to faint.

The Conqueror maintained her stoicism and continued to eat as if nothing had happened. The Princess looked at the both of them and inwardly she pitied her mother. What she saw playing before her at the dinner table hadn’t been a novelty. She had seen years’ worth of silences between them. She had seen the Queen’s weak will being trampled over and overruled by the Conqueror’s iron will.

“If I may, my Lord…” the Queen began to say, but the Conqueror cut through her speech.

“Her Grace’s training days are over. The sooner she readies her stomach to the sights of war the better. She will lead the Realm’s forces one day. It is high time she spilt enemy blood.”

“Of course, my Lord,” the Queen replied with resignation, yet her appetite was beyond repair. She wasn’t disappointed for she had held no great expectations to succeed in changing her Lord’s mind and forestalling her daughter from facing war.

The following day, soon after the sun stretched out her rays, the Conqueror and the Princess made their way to the armory. Their grooms fastened the battle attires to their persons.

Both the Conqueror and her heir wore light armor made of brass and plated gold with a front breastplate with muscle cuirasses and a lion imprint, along with bracers and greaves. In their hands they held the Royal Corinthian style helms, with horsehair plumes adoring the tops.

The Princess was only too eager to face the battlefield. Like many her age, especially those who have never faced death in their short lives, she felt invincible and immune to death. As a matter of fact, death wasn’t tangible in her eyes, and didn’t even rank amongst one of the outcomes of war.

“To Phrygia , Majesty?”

“Before we head out, we shall take our leave of her Majesty the Queen and bid her farewell,” the Conqueror said, knowing full well that despite the early hour, the Queen was ready and waiting for them in her chambers.
“The Lord Conqueror and her Grace, Princess Athena,” one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting announced.

“Your Majesty,” the Queen and her ladies curtsied.

The Queen’s ladies in waiting curtsied before the Princess and greeted her by her honorific.

“Your Majesty,” both the Conqueror and the Princess bowed before the Queen.

“You may take your leave, ladies,” the Queen addressed her servants and they all left her presence.

“We came to say goodbye, my Lady,” the Conqueror told her Queen.

For her Lord’s benefit, the Queen upheld and preserved a formal and detached expression on her face.

“May all your enemies fall before you, my Lord,” the Queen said.

“Thank you, my Lady. You are to act as regent in my absence,” the Conqueror informed her.

“I will, my Lord.”

“What are my orders, your Majesty?” the Princess asked the Conqueror.

“You are never to leave my side from the moment we leave Corinth to the moment we return. That is all for now,” the Conqueror stated.

The Queen then turned to her daughter and embraced her tightly. “Be safe, Athena,” she whispered and could barely pry open her own arms from around her beloved daughter.

“Go and wait for me outside, Athena,” the Conqueror said after the Queen had released her tight hold from around her daughter and the latter vacated the Queen’s chambers.

As soon as the doors were closed behind the Princess, the Conqueror collected her wife in her arms and pressed her tightly against her. “My love,” she whispered softly in her ear, and inwardly she was missing her already.

“How long before you return to me, my Lion?”

“It is hard to determine. It won’t be two armies meeting on the battlefield. The Horde hunt like a pack of wolves, and as such, I will try to end their attacks by killing their Alpha, their leader. I will return to you as soon as I’m able,” the Conqueror said, still not prepared to lose physical contact with her wife.

“Swear to me that you shall return back to me alive, my Lord,” Queen Gabrielle demanded, arresting her worries so as not to distract her Lord from the mission at hand.

“I do so swear, my Lady,” the Conqueror vowed then added whispering , “When I return…”

“I know, my Lord, I shall be prepared to receive all of you,” the Queen answered, fully aware of what lay on her Lord’s heart. She blinked away her unshed tears and sniffled when she finally let go of her Lord, and began straightening the dark cloak covering the Conqueror’s shoulders.

“I reckon we shall soon find out if the same curse that streams through my veins also streams through hers,” the Conqueror cast her gaze briefly at the direction of the entrance, signaling her wife that she was referring to their daughter.

A shiver ran through the Queen’s spine. Back between the Conqueror’s arms, she lost herself in a scorching kiss.

After long moments in each other’s arms, the Conqueror released her Queen and made her way to the doors.

“Xena,” she heard her Queen call from behind her just as she reached the door, using a tone of voice that the Conqueror had never heard her use before, “Bring back our daughter to me alive and unharmed.”

The Conqueror turned and bowed before her Queen. “By your will, your Majesty,” she said and left the Queen’s presence.

***

It took the Conqueror and her forces a little less than a moon to subdue the Horde. The Conqueror’s strategy of defeating their leader and thus defeating their warriors proved to be correct and accurate. Princess Athena exhibited all the earmarks of a supreme warrior. She was baptized by the Horde’s blood in front of her fellow warriors’ and future subordinates’ spurring cries of admiration.

On the ride back from Phrygia , soon after the Horde had been defeated, the Conqueror saw the clear signs of battle-lust on her daughter.

“Are you troubled by what you’ve seen and done during battle?” the Conqueror asked, knowing only too well that wasn’t the reason for her daughter’s uneasiness and restlessness.

“No, Majesty. I am not entirely sure of what it is… I can feel my blood seething and I can hear it rushing in my ears. I’m… overwhelmed with raging need… like something sinister and malicious brewing in me,” the Princess tried to explain, but when she looked at the Conqueror it was as if she was looking into a mirror.

“It is battle-lust, daughter,” the Conqueror gravely informed her.

By the time they have reached Corinth , the Conqueror had explicated all there was about the curse their blood shared. They halted the horses near the brothel, which the Conqueror had brought her daughter to be educated.

“Are you coming in, your Majesty?” the Princess asked, standing on the establishment of ill repute’s threshold, logically assuming that the Conqueror would join her.

“Have you frequented this establishment often since you’ve first came here?” the Conqueror inquired.

“I have, your Majesty,” the young Princess replied without an ounce of shame in her voice, quite the contrary.

“Then it is unseemly and uncouth that I should use the same women you have. You go in and I shall go to a different establishment to sate my needs,” the Conqueror replied with darkened eyes.

Of course, the Conqueror had no intention of going anywhere but straight back to her Queen, whom she could barely wait to see. The last exchange of words she had with the young Princess was a mere ploy designed mainly to plant two notions in Athena’s head. The first, that the Queen would be safe with her dignity and respectability intact. The second, to further cultivate the idea that neither love nor fidelity existed within her, only lust. But most importantly, the Conqueror wished to set an example for her successor.
Upon hearing the Conqueror’s response, Princess Athena was surprised. Not by the content, for in her mind, the Conqueror merely affirmed what she thought she had already known, but that the Conqueror raised such delicate and private matter, which had never been her habit.

“I shall see you tomorrow after breakfast at the Great Hall, your Grace. Remember what I’ve instructed you regarding consent.”

“She must agree to each and every act I wish to commit on her and stop when she asks,” the Princess recited the Conqueror’s instructions almost word for word.

The Conqueror nodded her head and mounted her mare.

“Your Majesty,” Princess Athena bowed before her Ruler and entered the brothel.

When the Conqueror entered the Imperial chambers, she was greeted by her wife the Queen, who dashed towards her as soon as she heard the doors being opened.

“My Lord,” the Queen exclaimed as she saw the familiar and hideous sight of her Lord as she returned from the battlefield.

“Gabrielle,” the Conqueror answered, clinging as hard as she could to the last shreds of her humanity before allowing the darkness inside her to volley forth like an irregular gale.

“Athena?” the Queen looked back over the Conqueror’s shoulder and to the door as if expecting her daughter to follow right behind the Conqueror.

“She is safe and unharmed,” the Conqueror replied quickly so to put an end to the suspense and the Queen’s mind at rest.

“Where is she?”

The Conqueror became less than forthcoming. “I trust you shall see her tomorrow morning,” though the look in her Lord’s eyes told more than the Queen wanted to know.

The Queen unclasped the Conqueror’s dark cloak from around her shoulders, and as soon as the cloak was off, a gash on the Conqueror’s bicep was revealed to the Queen’s astonished and aghast eyes.

“As I was fighting the Horde’s leader, one of their warrior’s must have recognized Athena as my daughter due to the striking resemblance between us, and threw his axe at her. I caught it in midair but the Horde’s leader managed to put his blade on me,” the Conqueror explained. “Only then did I notice that Athena was well aware of the weapon flying at her direction and would have caught it without my help.”

“Take off your attire, my Lord, I will go and fetch my needle and a thread,” the Queen said.

While the Conqueror was soaking in the lukewarm bath, the Queen returned to the Imperial chambers with what she needed to sew the opened wound, along with a goblet filled with strong spirits.

The Conqueror rose from the bath, and the water cascaded down her heated body.

The Queen led the Conqueror to her favorite armchair and took a seat herself on a low stool to the Conqueror’s left. First she doused the open gash with the spirits to clean it.

The burning sensation made the Conqueror, slouched in her armchair, to wince. ” It hurts,” she told her wife.

“Forgive me, my Lord. I shall try and do better,” the Queen said and went on attending to the Conqueror’s injury. She threaded the needle and began to stitch the gash, occasionally wiping the fresh blood that oozed from the Conqueror’s flesh with a piece of clean cloth.

When she felt the needle piercing her wounded flesh, tearing burn lances to it, the Conqueror squared her shoulders, launched her healthy hand and gripped the Queen’s wrist tightly, stilling its movement. “It hurts,” she repeated, and when the Queen looked into the Conqueror’s eyes she realized it wasn’t her loving Lord that was staring back at her through the steel cobalt orbs but the dark beast.

When the gash was clean and closed, the Queen unknotted the laces of her nightgown, letting it billow to the ground like a feather. She then went to the pile of the Conqueror’s garments, which had been lying in disarray on the bath chamber floor. She picked up the Conqueror’s riding crop and went to kneel before her.

At her Lord’s feet with her head down and her backside resting over her heels, the Queen lifted up the crop with both hands and presented it to her Lord.

The Conqueror leaned back into her armchair, glared at the small woman at her feet and rhythmically tapped her fingers over the arm of her seat.

“Did you receive pleasure from it?” the Conqueror asked.

Gabrielle hadn’t the slightest idea as to what her Lord was referring to.

“My Lord?” she asked meekly, her hands still raised in the air with the Conqueror’s crop on top of them.

The Conqueror’s blazing glare remained fixed on her wife. She saw the petite woman swallow nervously. She remembered how much it used to excite her to see Gabrielle terrified when she had been a slave, unable to understand her Lord’s mind.

“Causing me pain,” the Conqueror finally clarified. The tapping of her fingers stopped and she folded her arms over her naked chest.

“I did not, my Lord. It pained me more than it pained you,” Gabrielle replied quietly.

“Really? Just before I left for Phrygia … you told me to bring your daughter back alive to you… It sounded very much like an order,” the Conqueror said and leaned forward.

“I pray you, my Lord, to forgive your humble servant.”

“Inflicting pain on me, giving me orders… Have you forgotten who I am and what you are!?”

“I have behaved most reprehensibly, my Lord,” Gabrielle said. There was no doubt in her mind that the Conqueror’s words were uttered for the sole purpose of enticing their desire.

The Conqueror took the crop from her wife’s hands and rose to her feet, pattering its leathered tip rapidly against her own muscle-corded calf.

“I ought to put your collar back around your neck and put you on a leash just to remind you of the natural order of things,” the Conqueror threatened.

An empty threat, Gabrielle knew perfectly well, but just imagining it in her mind made her hot, wet and aching between her thighs.

“I am yours to do as you please, my Lord,” Gabrielle rendered an answer she knew her Lord would relish the most.

“Bend over the stool,” the Conqueror commanded.

The order carried by the Conqueror’s authoritative voice sounded delicious and stimulating to Gabrielle and sent her heart racing wildly with anticipation. She quickly complied with her Lord’s demand and bent over the stool, her stomach pressing on top of its surface, her head hanging down over one side of it along with her ample breasts dangling over her chin and her buttocks prominently poised upwards with both globes exposed and parted. Gabrielle could see as high as her Lord’s knees. She saw the crop being raised from the Conqueror’s calf and then she lost sight of it. She knew her Lord was aiming her strike.

The Conqueror swung her crop and delivered a harsh lash to Gabrielle’s right buttock, making the reddened flesh sizzle.

“Right about now I wager you would have preferred it if I fornicated with some poor wench in a brothel rather than bringing my need to you to cater,” the Conqueror said.

“It would have broken my heart, my Lord, if you’d chosen to deprive me of this pleasure and given it to someone other than me,” the Queen answered sincerely and braced herself for the second strike that landed equally on her left buttock.

The Conqueror’s vicious rod licked and bit the flesh of her buttocks and thighs. The searing flagellations left marvelous pulsating stripes on the Queen, that sent both of their lustful yearnings soaring. The Queen steeled herself and reveled in the fact that she couldn’t see where the next blow was about to come from and where it would hit. Only the whistle sound as the crop tore through the air announced it was coming.

When the soft leather tip played delicious havoc on the Queen’s bursting rosebud of her womanhood, a torrent of her essence surged out of her and washed her nether lips and made the sensitive area glisten in the firelight.

Then the Conqueror issued an order she had never issued before, much to the Queen’s surprise.

“Resist me,” the Conqueror demanded.

The Queen’s brow furrowed, “My Lord?”

“Fight me! Fight me like your life depends upon it,” she elaborated, and then with her leg she shoved the stool away from beneath the Queen.

Just when Gabrielle thought her desire couldn’t possibly reach any higher, the Conqueror suggested a new play that nearly made the younger woman explode. Turning to lie prone on the hirsute Persian carpet, Gabrielle saw the Conqueror lowering her magnificent strong body to the ground.

In an instant, Gabrielle crossed her legs tightly, denying access to her Lord.

The Conqueror gripped her Queen’s delicate ankles and tried to pry open her legs, but the younger woman seemed adamant to keep them closed. The Conqueror moved to straddle her Queen, resting her length on the Queen’s belly. She leaned over and tried to capture Gabrielle’s lips with her mouth but the Queen turned her head to the side and refused to allow it.

The Queen saw the Conqueror’s strong hands moving steadfastly towards hers, and she realized that her Lord was about to incapacitate them. She knew she needed to land a preemptive strike and so she launched her palm and slapped the Conqueror hard across her face.

An expression of surprise briefly appeared on the Conqueror’s face, and for a moment Gabrielle, knowing that her Lord was wired with battle-lust still, felt frightened and exhilarated.

The Conqueror clenched her jaw, rubbed the sting of the slap she had received, and glared at her wife. The sight of her wild Queen made her feral heart pump blood in an increased rate. She moved swiftly and managed to grasp Gabrielle’s left arm and secured it effortlessly against the ground above her head.

Gabrielle squirmed under her Lord’s debilitating weight, and tried with all her might to push her off her, but to no avail. With her free hand, though, she clawed leaving a long bleeding scratch on the Conqueror’s right breast.

The Conqueror snarled, fueled with raging lust. Determined, she leaned down again and forcefully sucked the Queen’s tender neck, snaring the Queen’s free hand between their heated, sweaty bodies.

As they were wrestling each other on the ground, it occurred to Gabrielle that her Lord was holding back and wasn’t using her entire true and awesome power with her. After all, she had seen the Conqueror bring down strong and able warriors with a single blow of her arm. She realized then that her Lord was careful not to cause any serious injury to her, and also, with using only a fraction of her strength, she was prolonging the arousing play.

“In nature, do you know what happens when a lion kills its rival?”

Gabrielle shook her head, “I don’t, my Lord.”

“The lioness goes straight into heat,” the Conqueror replied and exposed her teeth.

When the Conqueror’s ravenous mouth traveled further down and suckled the Queen’s erect and rosy nipple, Gabrielle succeeded in freeing her hand again and tried to push the Conqueror’s head to get her to release her sucking mouth away from her inflamed nipple. In doing so, Gabrielle felt conflicted, for on the one hand she craved the carnal connection more than she needed air to breathe at that moment, but on the other hand, she wished to give her Lord a good and stimulating fight.

Sensing her Queen’s turmoil, the Conqueror smiled.

However, it wasn’t a sinister smile, but a lascivious and playful smile, and the Queen recognized her loving Lord immediately. The dark beast had retreated.

“You don’t seem to try very hard, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror jeered in humor.

“I can’t resist you, Xena… Not because of your formidable strength… You are simply irresistible,” the Queen laughed.

The Conqueror caressed her wife with admiring eyes, “You are so beautiful, Gabrielle,” she said hoarsely.

In return, Gabrielle extended out her pink tongue and licked the blood she had drawn from the scratch on her Lord’s breast. She savored the metallic flavor of the thick and potent substance.

Upon seeing the Queen’s lips sullied with her blood, the Conqueror turned round the Queen’s body to lie with her stomach against the carpet.

When the Conqueror finally crouched behind her, the Queen’s urgent desire for release was insurmountable.

Like a predatory animal, the Conqueror first sniffed between the Queen’s legs to catch a whiff of her scented arousal, then she slammed her shaft deep past her Queen’s tight sphincter, making them both grunt heavily.

One of the Conqueror’s hands slithered beneath Gabrielle and two long fingers parted the Queen’s wet folds and twirled inside the Queen’s lubricated slit.

Gabrielle was beside herself. She pressed down her throbbing, molten nub tenaciously against the heel of her Lord’s hand.

The Conqueror’s hips incessantly circled, creating a delicious pressure in her own core as beneath her Gabrielle trembled, her smaller body unconsciously arching as it strove to make further contact with the object of its desire .

After so many years together, their bodies knew one another completely; anticipated each other’s movements, gestures and pleasures. As they danced together on the floor to the cadence of their desire for one another, they both knew they were close. Wordlessly they synchronized their climax and when they reached their peak they clung together, growling and screaming their shuddering release, bathing each other with their nectars.

They kept on lying, still connected to one another, on the carpet, enjoying the sweet waves of the aftershock.

A few long moments later the Conqueror lumbered to her feet. Easily, she hefted the smaller woman into her arms and with shuffling steps they floundered together on their bed, laughing softly.

Gabrielle’s fingers unbuckled the Conqueror’s leather harness, then combed through the dark, shortly trimmed wet curls before she lifted her glazed fingers to her lips, prizing the familiar tang.

The Conqueror chuckled at her lover’s greedy appetite. She moved her tongue over her beloved Queen’s buttocks and thighs, soothing the welts she had left on them with her crop, as the Queen moaned and purred with pleasure and delight.

“The Lion is licking the little vixen,” the Queen said in a sleepy and amused tone of voice.

“You are not a vixen, but a Lioness,” the Conqueror replied, gathering her semi-slumbering wife in her arms and pulling the covers over their cooling bodies.

“Hmmm… Lioness…” murmured the contented Queen on sleep’s threshold.

Replete, the Conqueror uttered very softly, “My love for you is endless, Gabrielle,” and kissed her wife’s temple.

“I love you, too, my Lord.”
Part 31
The next day, soon after sunrise, the Conqueror made her way to the Great Hall, leaving her satisfied albeit sore Queen to soak in a luxuriously long warm bath. She was scheduled to meet with the Princess and later on with Delos, the prosperous merchant of weaponry from Thessaly to negotiate prices.

Meanwhile, Princess Athena was waiting restlessly for the Conqueror, pacing back and forth in the Great Hall, when she heard voices coming from a nearby chamber. Her legs carried her to the chamber from which the voices were originating. When she entered it she saw Germanicus, Lady Lila’s youngest son and nephew to her mother the Queen, giving a rose to Antonia, Delos ‘ daughter, whom she had admired from afar for quite a while.

The indomitable Princess felt angry and jealous and very much entitled. She closed the distance between them with wide strides. She then turned to Germanicus and simply ordered, “Leave us, and in the future you are forbidden from ever approaching Antonia again.”

“With all due respect, your Grace, I am of nobility and a free man to do as I wish.”

“You are to do as I command,” the Princess’ voice roared.

Germanicus , not unlike the Princess, felt very much entitled as well, for if he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t have said the following words to the Princess, “Pardon, your Grace but you have no authority over me . Who are you to give me orders?!”

Princess Athena was fuming, “I am Princess Xena Athena, fathered by the Great Lord Conqueror of the Realm!”

Spoiled young Germanicus was as quick to get angry as he was to forget his humble beginning. Conveniently forgetting that his nobility was bestowed upon him due to his mother’s kinship to the Queen , “And mothered by the Lord Conqueror’s former body slave!” he shouted back at her, his tone didn’t attempt to mitigate the incendiary words.

Antonia stepped back, thinking it best to put some distance between the Princess and Germanicus.

The Princess was flabbergasted. Her entire world as she had known it crumbled. It finally made sense to her. All seemed to fall into place. Everything explained with a few short words, uttered in anger. Her mother had been the Conqueror’s body slave. All the silences between them over the years, the Conqueror’s treatment of the Queen and the Queen’s behavior towards the Conqueror all made perfect sense all of a sudden. The puzzle that was her parents’ relationship had been solved at long last. That was why she knew Germanicus wasn’t lying. Humiliated and livid, she sent her fist flying towards Germanicus’ face and after breaking his insolent nose she grabbed him tightly and wrung his neck, wishing it to snap in her hands like a dried twig.

Lady Lila, who heard muffled shouting as she walked in a nearby corridor, hurried to the chamber to find her son being strangled by the Princess.

“Get your hands off him!” she cried hysterically and tried to force open the Princess’ hands from around her son’s neck.

“What is the meaning of this!?” the Conqueror’s sonorous voice made all present in the chamber freeze all motion.

Abruptly, Lady Lila removed her hands from Princess Athena, who released her hands from Germanicus.

“Your Majesty,” they all murmured respectfully and bowed and curtsied before her.

“There’s a question pending,” the Conqueror reminded them.

“They were fighting over me, Majesty” Antonia was the first to speak.

“Is this true?” the Conqueror directed her question to her heir.

“Yes, Majesty,” the Princess replied with her body taut to its full stature.

“You may take your leave, Antonia,” the Conqueror said and Antonia nearly trampled over her frock as she scurried to the door and left.

The Conqueror returned her glare to her daughter. “Fighting over a lass?” the Conqueror asked in disbelief, as if such form of behavior should have been beneath her successor.

“I fancy her, Majesty… a great deal, for quite some time now,” Athena remained proud.

“She is not worthy of your station, your Grace, and I forbid it,” the Conqueror decreed.

Princess Athena thought the Conqueror was being duplicitous not to mention unfair. The next words that came out of mouth stunned the Conqueror.

“Wasn’t my mother your body slave, Majesty?”

The Conqueror’s hands balled into tight fists that whitened her knuckles. What infuriated the Conqueror, knowing that it hadn’t been the Queen who divulged that information, was that her daughter had to learn that truth from the mouth of a stranger rather than her own mouth. So many years had gone by that it almost seemed as if the past had been buried so deeply that it could never come out. No one in the Realm had dared mention it and it all but seemed long forgotten.

“Who told you?” the Conqueror’s voice was low and strained.

“Dear Germanicus, just now!” Athena yelled and ran out of the chamber.

The Conqueror thought it best to allow the Princess some time alone to vent and clear her head. She turned to Germanicus, whom all her anger was directed to, and asked, “Is this true? Did you tell her Grace about the Queen’s past?”

He lowered his head while his heart shrank in his chest. “It is, your Majesty,” he whispered.

“How did you know? Who told you? You were but a child when I married the Queen…”

He remained silent for he didn’t wish any harm to befall his mother, Lady Lila.

“Forgive me, your Majesty, but it was I who told him,” Lady Lila finally admitted.

“You…” the Conqueror hissed between clenched teeth, “Her own sister…” her eyes narrowed as she glared at the smaller woman. “Why? After all she has given you… after all she has sacrificed for you, why would you shame her like this?”

Lady Lila remained mute and wouldn’t meet the Conqueror’s reproachful and raging eyes. Inwardly, she knew perfectly well why, only she never took into account that the Conqueror might know why as well. This had been a secret, which she had held very close and hidden in her heart.

“You are jealous of her. You’ve always been jealous of her. She’s prettier than you, she’s wiser than you, she’s stronger than you, and her heart is kinder than yours. In spite of her past, she managed to climb up as high as becoming Queen of the Realm and now you owe her not just your life but your station as well… you owe all to your younger sister and you resent her for it,” the astute Conqueror said. “Better if you’d shown some semblance of gratitude and kept your mouth shut, Madame!”

Lady Lila’s eyes widened into almost perfectly rounded orbs, she felt as though she was stripped naked and was now exposed for all to see.

“Shame on you! Her Majesty will forgive you for that is her nature, but I won’t,” the Conqueror moved to stand closer to them, imposing on them, making both Lady Lila and young Germanicus cringe where they stood. Then she went on to say , “If it hadn’t been for your kinship to the Queen, both you and your son would have been a head shorter by now.”

Meanwhile, in the Imperial bath-chamber, the Queen was exiting the steamy scented water when suddenly the door swung open. At first the Queen thought it was her Lord, for who else would dare barge into the Imperial bath.

But it was Athena that stood at the doorway and her eyes were brazenly and unapologetically surveying her mother’s figure. She saw the welts on her backside and thighs, the leather collar with the Conqueror’s crest around it, and lastly the Conqueror’s insignia branded over her mother’s shoulder blade.

“You were her body slave.” It wasn’t a question but a charge. Seeing the unmistakable symbol around her mother’s thigh provided ample confirmation beyond any doubt.

“Athena…” sighed the Queen and grabbed a towel to conceal her naked body. There was no point, she realized, in denying it.

“Since when?” Athena demanded to know, as if learning all the particular details there were to know about them could make any difference.

“I entered my Lord’s service when I was nearly eighteen years of age,” the Queen replied. If she hadn’t been taken so completely by surprise, she would have told her daughter that it was none of her concern.

“So I’m the daughter of a body slave…” Athena muttered as if just realizing it.

The Queen held her head up high. She refused to feel any shame. “You are my Lord’s daughter and mine.”

Princess Athena scoffed and disdain seemed to pour out of her like rivers.

“All these years, I’ve never seen you at ease in your Lord’s presence,” Athena uttered the words ‘Your Lord’ like they were an insult. “To this day you are always tense and alert around her, always in waiting for her every command, always conceding your will to hers, always ready to serve her, ever groveling before her . I have never heard you calling her by name and I have never seen her show you even the smallest gesture of kindness.” Athena’s words came shooting out of her mouth like poisoned arrows.

The Queen remained silent.

“Even now,” Athena mercilessly continued, “as her Queen, she still demands that you wear a slave’s collar and she takes her whip to you still. The Conqueror might have bestowed upon you supreme title, but you’re nothing but a slave to her yet.”

The innocuous words hit their target . Hearing them coming out of her own daughter’s mouth was nearly too much for the Queen to bear.

“After all these years, your Lord still owns you. She owns you now as the day she bought and paid for you on the slavers block. Have you no dignity, no self-respect?”

The majestic Queen looked directly into her daughter’s eyes, ensnaring her daughter’s gaze and firmly holding it, unwavering.

It made Athena suddenly realize that perchance her mother wasn’t the weakling she had always thought her to be, but much stronger than she ever would have guessed.

“Daughter, you have much to learn about dignity,” Queen Gabrielle said then paused before she went on to say, “If my Lord had deemed that I should remain her body slave for the rest of my life, I would have been happy and content more than anything and not thought any less of myself for it. I’d rather be my Lord’s slave than anyone else’s wife or Queen. I shall admire and adore my Lord with my dying breath.”

At that moment the young Princess believed she had never witnessed a more miserable and pathetic creature than her mother, who seemed to adore her Lord, who had treated her, so she believed, worse than any human being would treat a dog.

Just when she opened her mouth to give voice to her thoughts, and say something hurtful to her mother, from the corner of her eyes, Princess Athena saw a tall figure rushing towards her, like something unnatural, inhuman. Rooted in her place by profound shock and fear, she saw the Conqueror closing the gap between them, lunging at her like a raptor, her arm raised in the air. Next she felt the Conqueror strike her hard with the back of her hand, knocking her to the ground and her head being slammed against the stone wall with the awesome force of the blow. For a moment she thought her jaw had popped out of its place and her skull had been split open. With tears in her eyes, she rubbed the place that had been in contact with the Conqueror’s hand to sooth the pulsating pain. She spitted out the blood from her aching mouth and it felt as though her jaw’s muscles had been contorted.

“Hold your row!” The Conqueror’s voice bellowed. She squatted next to Athena, as the latter instinctively shrank back and raised her hands to defend herself, all the while knowing full well there was no defense against the force that was the Lord Conqueror.

The harsh Ruler grabbed Athena by the neck with her iron strong grip and raised her other arm in the air, preparing to steadfastly land a second strike, when the Conqueror felt a gentle hand touching her shoulder.

“Please, my Lord, will you not come back to bed?” It was the Queen’s soft imploring voice that halted her motion dead in its tracks.

The Conqueror rose to her feet, gently wrapped her arms around her Queen and embraced her passionately for a few long moments, completely ignoring her injured bleeding daughter on the ground.

“Go wait for me in our bedchamber and I will see you anon,” the Conqueror whispered tenderly in her ear.

The Princess was captivated and awestruck by the gentle and intimate exchange between them.

“Thank you, my gracious Lord,” the Queen said and retired to the Imperial bedchamber.

The Conqueror returned her attention back to her daughter still on the ground.

“It wasn’t my honor I was defending, but my Queen’s honor, you sniveling whelp – You know nothing about us and nothing about what is shared between us. You can’t even begin to comprehend, but I give allowance to your youth and impulsiveness and I don’t wish to further exacerbate my Queen’s grief.”

Princess Athena listened to the Conqueror’s words, but her expression remained one of spitefulness, spoiled defiance and disbelief.

Though the Conqueror’s treatment of her over the years had been firm, if not austere, she had never raised her hand to her. The Princess’ pride was wounded. She wanted to convey to the Conqueror that she felt insulted and wronged.

But the Conqueror disregarded what she perceived as her daughter’s self-absorbed indignations. “My hold over her is nothing compared to the hold she has over me. I would give her the Realm in a heartbeat if she so asked and not given it a second thought.”

The Conqueror stepped away from Athena, who couldn’t believe her own ears.

The sole Lord of the Realm needed a respite to gather her thoughts and carefully plan the next words she was going to say to her daughter.

“You are young, rash and inexperienced. The only power you hold has been handed to you on a silver platter by me. You have yet to truly earn it. You have no real concept of what it takes to truly rule an empire. I have no inclination of explaining myself to you or explaining the nature of the bond your mother and I share, but out of respect to her Majesty the Queen, I shall.”

The Conqueror drew a deep breath and went on to say, “I love her with all my heart. I have loved her from the first moment I caught sight of her, but I had to try and kill that great love that poured life, light and happiness into me. I tried to kill it by committing ghastly acts against her I’m ashamed to even contemplate now. I kept it buried inside me for so many years in the hopes that, eventually, it would one day shrivel, wither and die and release me from its grave and heavy burden.”

Then something it the Conqueror’s voice became rigid and dense, ” Rulers cannot love. No one can know that a Ruler bears or is even capable of bearing such great and perfect love. It weakens you in the eyes of your subjects and enemies, for it gives power over you to the one to whom you bear this love. Love is like fresh blood on the battlefield, which attracts wolves, and so you must never breathe a word of the extraordinary love I bear my Queen to a soul.”

The Conqueror turned and walked over to the chamber door leading to the Imperial bedchamber. When she placed her hand over the cold metal of the door handle, she turned back to face her bewildered daughter and landed upon her this daunting lesson. “You must make stone of your heart, daughter, for love – is the greatest price you would ever have to pay in order to rule.”

Athena could barely speak. She cleared her throat then simply claimed, “You love and you rule.”

The Conqueror’s countenance softened, “I was fortunate enough to fall in love with a woman I could trust my life with. And she did, you know… she saved my life once at the cost of her freedom. For a slave, there is no greater sacrifice. If I could grant you anything by merely wishing it, I would have wished that the woman you marry will be one tenth of the woman my Queen is.”

Still not fully adjusted to the new reality, Athena had to ask, “Does she know?”

“She is the only one that knows. She first learnt of it soon after your admission into the Roman academy,” the Conqueror replied.

“That’s less than half the years your Majesty has been with her,” Athena pointed out and it almost sounded like an accusation.

“That is correct,” the Conqueror confirmed, not entirely unrepentantly.

“Does she feel the same?”

“You know how tender, forgiving and loving her heart is… What do you think? Let me tell you something about her tremendous love for me… It is better than winning a hundred battles; it is more exhilarating than having the world bend to your will. It is more enriching than having all the riches in the world and it is more satisfying than having knowledge of a thousand women. Believe me, I am in the position to know.”

A few quiet moments passed before the Conqueror turned to leave again.

“Oh, and one last thing… if I ever catch you raising your voice to her Majesty again or speaking to her Majesty in any way other than perfect respect…”

The Conqueror didn’t need to finish her sentence. Athena, whose world turned upside down that morning, knew full well that if she hadn’t been the Queen’s daughter as well, the Conqueror wouldn’t have hesitated to put an end to her life.

***

In the Imperial bedchamber, the Conqueror took her Queen by the hand and led her to the stony balcony overseeing Corinth ‘s seaport.

“How much of what was exchanged between Athena and me did you hear, my Lord?” the Queen asked, fully dressed in her regal dress.

“Nearly all of it, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied. It occurred to her then that she had never apologized to her beloved for the hurtful things she had said to her when her beloved had been her slave. Gabrielle never asked it of her, she realized as well, and she suspected she knew why. Her beloved Queen afforded her, her pride and loved her for it.

As if she could read her Lord’s mind, the Queen smiled a mysterious smile. “Is the matter between us and our daughter resolved, my Lord?” she asked .

“It is, my Lady,” the Conqueror replied.

“May I ask what did you tell her?”

The Conqueror took off her cloak and covered Gabrielle’s shivering shoulders, shielding her from the morning light chill.

“The truth, my love… that you are the Conqueror of the Realm,” the Conqueror smiled.

The Queen knelt down at her Lord’s feet and kissed the seal ring on her finger.

The Conqueror knelt as well and wrapped her encompassing arms around her beloved Queen. As she caressed Gabrielle’s cheek with hers, she felt moisture against her skin and she realized her beloved was crying.

Although she knew these were tears of joy, she softly whispered “No tears, my love. Not today,” as she gently rocked the Queen in her arms. “Don’t you know what day it is, today?” The Conqueror asked.

“My Lord…” the Queen sighed, “I thought you have forgotten.”

The Conqueror chuckled, “How could I forget one of the happiest days of my life? How could I forget the day you became my wife and Queen?”

As she felt her beloved’s body relax against hers the Conqueror closed her eyes and conjured the memory of Gabrielle boarding the docking ship in her wedding frock.

“When I first caught a sight of you dressed in white, ready and willing to be my wife…I thought I had never seen a more beautiful and more humbling sight in all my life.”

The Queen pressed her face against her Lord’s neck, and enjoyed the feeling of her Lord’s hard collarbone and the soft vibrations of her speech against her cheek .

“Everything seemed so unreal to me, that day,” the Queen recalled. “The ceremony was so very formal. It all happened so quickly…from slave to Queen, from concubine to legitimate wife…indignant haughty strangers waiting for me to err.” and then the Queen paused and smiled fondly, “And then you tied my shoelace.”

“It was an excuse to kneel before you and force our subjects to kneel before you, as well,” the Conqueror explained what her wife had already known.

“I knew that, my Lord, and your grand gesture nearly made me weep,” the Queen remembered warmheartedly and pushed herself closer against her Lord. “What scared and troubled me most was your motivation for marrying me, my Lord, for I never wanted high station, wealth or power. All I ever desired was your love and affection, and to be bound to you, my Lord.”

The Conqueror felt she owed an explanation to her wife, “I chose you over Princess Lao-Ling because it was you I wanted, you I loved. Tis true that Princess Lao-Ling proposal and the great matter of my succession expedited the issue of marriage, but I wouldn’t have married or sired children with anyone other than you. Good thing that the Realm’s nobility tried to push me into marrying the Princess, for they gave me a splendid excuse to marry you under the pretext of my will’s supremacy.”

“Why did you think I accepted your proposal, my Lord?” the Queen asked as her fingertips traced a bulging vein on her Lord’s forearm.

“I never thought it was for want of wealth or power…not even your freedom. I believed you accepted my proposal of marriage because you thought it would please me, and because of your obedience to me. I never imagined you could love me,” the Conqueror answered. She released her arms from around her wife, and helped her to her feet.

“Happy anniversary, my Lord.” The Queen eyes gleamed as she anchored her hand at the back of Conqueror’s head and prompted her to lean down for a passionate all-consuming kiss.

“I am taking you to Thira , today. We shall leave as soon as your ladies in waiting finish packing your traveling chest,” the Conqueror said and watched her Queen’s face light up brighter than the morning sun.

Before the Royal couple left, they entered Princess Athena’s chambers to bid her farewell. The Conqueror appointed her regent in their absence. Athena, knowing what she knew now about the parents who conceived and raised her, was overwhelmed with strong emotions towards her parents, and so before the Conqueror and the Queen turned to leave, she rushed towards them with open arms and they all embraced together.

 

 

THE END
Continued in Queen of the Realm

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