Disclaimer

Violence: Yes, there definitely will be some violent scenes.

Subtext: Oh, always a yes!

Copyright: I do not own Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, or the Conqueror. We know who owns them.

Time Frame: Sixth Season Gabrielle and Xena. This is the sequel of A World Away, so I recommend reading it before reading this one.

Any comments or questions can be sent to me at... Red_Hope@yahoo.com

Started: December 29th 2000, Friday

Mini-Series One: The Reflection of the Mirror Story: Two

______________________________________________________________________________________

The Conqueror of The Conqueror

By

Red Hope

Section One

Three weeks after the soul mates departure…

Suddenly a large boom exploded in the office then dead silence. A pair of intense blue eyes locked on more soft green eyes. The fist on the desk was still white and pressing down hard.

"I will not agree to this," snarled the Conqueror.

The Amazon Queen searched the ruler's powerful, water, blue eyes. She was leaning towards Xena, her hands gripping the edge of the desk, and her jaw clenched. "We've been at this for weeks," she stated harshly.

"Maybe then there will be no treaty," declared the Conqueror. She corked an eyebrow.

Gabrielle's lips were curling with a grin. She closed her eyes in self-control, yet the laughter started bubbling up. She dropped her head and began laughing.

The Conqueror sighed deeply before she straightened up. She crossed her arms and waited for the younger woman to stop.

The small woman shook her head and finished laughing. She lifted her head with a smile. "I'm sorry… but this has been going on for a bit long." She combed her fingers through her strawberry-blond hair. After a sigh, she turned and walked out onto the balcony. She still wore her Amazon Queen attire; she felt it was right to stay in her attire that spoke of rank.

The ruler tilted her head; she studied the Queen's back. After she came around the desk, she slowly strolled out and joined the other woman.

"I've been meaning to ask you," whispered Gabrielle, "How did Gabrielle get that wound on her side?" She peered up.

The Conqueror sighed; her hands grasped the rail. "One of your Amazons."

The Amazon Queen gaped faintly. "What? Who?"

"Amarice." Xena turned her head and raised an eyebrow at Gabrielle. "She tried attacking me with a dagger but Gabrielle jumped in."

"She took the dagger in the side," finished the younger woman. She sighed and asked, "Where's Amarice now?" Not really sure if she wanted to know.

The Warrior Princess shrugged. "I'd imagine still in your Nation."

Gabrielle knitted her eyebrows. "You set her free?" she whispered.

"Yes."

The small woman smiled and grasped the Conqueror's forearm. "Thank you," she said sincerely.

The Conqueror nodded.

The Queen released the arm. "What… are we going to do about the treaty?" She glanced up. "We cannot seem to come to an agreement."

"Well…" The ruler stared over Athens. "We have two choices. Either we come to an agreement or… war," she stated.

"Personally…" Gabrielle folded her arms. "War isn't in my choice." She paused. "I'm amazed it's still an option to you," she uttered.

"War is always an option."

"War is never an answer," added Gabrielle. She shook her head. "It shouldn't be an option."

"However it is and you cannot run from it, Queen Gabrielle." The Conqueror faced the small woman. "You need to realize that if you plan on being a good queen."

"No," stated the small woman quickly. "I realize that war is in option and I realize it is not always the best answer." She narrowed her eyes. "That's what makes me a good queen." She grinned faintly. "A damn good queen." She lost the grin. "You may want to look into it… Conqueror." After she turned, she went into the office again.

Xena turned back to the scenery.

The Amazon Queen picked up the treaty from the desk. She reread it while she mused over the way to perfect it. She sighed sadly but slowly a grin creased her lips. "Conqueror?"

The ruler came in.

"I have an idea."

"I'd hope its more enticing than the last one," teased the Warrior Princess.

Gabrielle looked up with a grin. "It is."

~*Part 1*~

Gabrielle and Xena neared the cave outside of Stagira.

"Here it is," whispered the warrior.

The smaller warrior chuckled and smiled at her partner. "Yup." She stopped and turned to her friend. "You think it'll still work?"

"Only one way to find out," stated Xena. She neared the cave with Argo in tow. She stopped outside of the mouth.

The warrior-bard came up along side. She faced her horse and took off the tack. "Torqueo and Argo will be fine on their own?"

"Yes." The warrior nodded. "They'll be fine." She was untacking her mare.

Gabrielle breathed deeply and peered up at the surrounding forest. "I'm nervous," she whispered.

Xena glanced at her soul mate. "About seeing her?"

"Yeah," uttered the younger woman. "What if…"

The Warrior Princess corked an eyebrow. "If she's gone back?"

The short warrior nodded. "Yes, I'm worried about that."

Xena went to the saddle and took it off. "Well, considering what I saw, I doubt if she's reverted back to her old ways." She took the saddle off. "And this is why we're going… right?"

Gabrielle smiled at her lover. "Yeah." She hefted all her horse's tack in her arms. "Thank you for doing this, Xen."

The warrior flashed a smile back. "Come on, love." She nodded at the cave's mouth.

The smaller woman followed in.

The soul mates placed their tack down inside then their saddlebags. Together, they strolled back into the cave.

Before them, niched into the walls and ceiling of the cavern were gleaming green gems.

"Here we go," whispered Gabrielle. She took her lover's hand.

Xena laced their fingers together.

The soul mates walked more and became surrounded by the green gems on all sides. They heard a fizzing sound then a low hum as the gems glowed brighter and brighter. Suddenly there was a loud snap, a white flash, and pain shot through the women's bodies.

~*~*~*~

Amarice sighed and leaned against the tree's trunk. "I hate patrol duty," she grumbled.

The older Amazon, Teresa, glanced at Amarice. "It could be worse."

"How is that?"

The third Amazon grinned at Amarice. "We could be cleaning out the stalls."

Amarice laughed and nodded. "You have a point there, Aster."

Aster grinned and opened her mouth to add more but she stopped as a loud crackling sound had begun.

The three Amazons all turned on the tree limb to the sound. They gazed down at the ground where there was small lightening bolts forming.

"What in Hades…" Aster gawked when two women reappeared on the ground.

"Its that woman," whispered Amarice, her eyes narrowed.

"Its Gabrielle." Teresa smiled warmly. "The warrior." She glanced at the other Amazons. "Let's go."

"Wait," said Amarice. "You know her?"

Aster nodded. "She came into the village while you were away. She's a good guy." She chuckled.

Amarice gazed back at the two women. "Yeah?" She sighed. "I hope you're right."

"Come on, you two." Teresa moved along the branched and landed on the ground.

The two Amazons sighed, jumped, then they landed on the ground.

Gabrielle and Xena turned around.

"Gabrielle?" asked Teresa.

The small warrior smiled softly. "Teresa."

The Amazon chuckled and came closer. "You know me huh?"

"From my world, yes." The warrior-bard held her hand out to her soul mate. "Teresa this is Xena… the hero."

Teresa chuckled and peered up at the tall woman. "I saw you when you came through over a month ago."

"I think everybody in the village did," stated the warrior.

Aster and Amarice joined Teresa.

"Aster," greeted Gabrielle.

"Gabrielle." Aster bowed her head with a smile. "Welcome back."

Amarice folded her arms and corked an eyebrow at the soul mates.

The short warrior sighed. "Amarice, I'm sorry about what happened so long ago."

The young Amazon huffed. "I can't believe what happened." She looked away.

"I did it to save us all," countered Gabrielle.

Again, Amarice just huffed, her pride still pricked.

"Amarice, Gabrielle risked her life for this world. She saved your life… you at least owe her a thank you." Xena's powerful gaze locked on the Amazon.

Amarice peered up at the warrior, amazed by her. She glanced at Gabrielle. "Thank you," she whispered but it was sincere.

"Anytime." Gabrielle tried giving a warm smile.

The young Amazon gave a tiny smile in return.

"So, dropped in for a visit?" asked Teresa.

"Yup," answered Gabrielle. "Is Queen Gabrielle around?"

Aster shook her head. "No, Queen Gabrielle, Eponin, and Ephiny are still in Athens."

"They're still working on the treaty?" The warrior-bard was stunned.

"Afraid so," answered Teresa. "Solari is here however." She paused. "I assume you two want to see Queen Gabrielle and the Conqueror?"

"Yes." Xena folded her arms with a small grin. "Think you can help out?"

Teresa chuckled. "Of course. Let's head back to the village."

"Lead the way." Gabrielle smiled and followed her feathery friends.

~*~*~*~

"We'll be heading back soon." Gabrielle watched her regent cross the room.

"We?" asked Ephiny. She came around the bed; she neared her friend. "Define we."

The Queen looked away and folded her arms. "We as in you and Ep."

Ephiny sighed and leaned against the dresser to her right. "Gabrielle-"

"I know… I know." The small woman held a hand up for a moment then dropped it. She her fingers went through her bangs. "Eph, I need to stay."

"Why?" whispered the regent. "So you can get killed?" she ushered.

"Ephiny, you know that's not true." Gabrielle shook her head. "I need to stay." She paused and let that sink in. "I cannot give you an explanation but something is telling me to."

The regent considered for a moment. It sounded insane and the last time something sounded insane it was the right thing. "Is this insane to you?" she whispered.

"I know it sounds insane," replied the small Queen.

The regent looked up and grinned. "Then it’s the right thing." But she went serious. "Let Ep and I stay a little longer till I'm convinced things are… stable."

"I'd like that," agreed Gabrielle. "I'm just happy the Conqueror invited me to stay longer."

"What about the treaty?" questioned the Amazon.

"The Conqueror is getting a duplicate made and sent to the Amazons for our records." She paused. "And to let Solari know."

"Good." The regent smiled softly. "I'm glad things worked out."

Gabrielle started smiling warmly now and nodded. "Things have worked out." She thought about that more. "Everything is going to be okay."

"Yeah." Ephiny sighed contently. "I'm amazed." She chuckled. "It’s a new era."

"It is," whispered Gabrielle. "Now, I just need to ensure it."

The regent tilted her head, just wondering exactly what her friend meant.

~*~*~*~

The Conqueror looked up from her desk when the guard entered. "Yes?"

"Two visitors have arrive, my liege." The guard stood tall, in his eyes were hints of happiness.

The ruler noted that happiness and had to wonder why. "Who is that?"

"They wish to remain anonymous, my liege." The guard paused. "One of them awaits for you in the throne room."

"Fine," stated Xena. "I will be there in a moment." She waved a hand.

"Of course." The guard bowed and left the office.

The Warrior Princess stood up from her chair and glanced out the dark balcony. It was a candlemark after sunset and she had to wonder whom would come by at this time. After a sigh, she headed for the throne room. She stopped before she entered the room. She check her side for her chakram, she didn't like anonymous visitors.

The Conqueror reached forward, she pushed open the door and walked into the huge throne room. She made it a few steps into the room then came to a dead stop. She smiled warmly.

Gabrielle smiled back. "Conqueror." She bowed her head.

The ruler's entire expression softened. She quickly neared the small warrior as she straightened back up. "Gabrielle, what are you doing here?"

"I came to see you, Conqueror."

Xena stood tall before her friend. "I'm surprised."

"I kinda thought so." The warrior-bard chuckled. "Come here." She moved in and hugged the ruler.

The Warrior Princess sighed dramatically but hugged back the younger woman. "Where's Xena?" she asked softly.

Gabrielle pulled back with a smile. "She's coming, she went to stable the horses."

The Conqueror nodded. "How are you and Xena doing?"

"Really well," answered the small woman. "She keeps getting more mushy by the moment."

The tall woman chuckled.

"I heard that," called the warrior as she came through the large marble doors, but she didn't get far. Since the guards at the door blocked her path with crossed spears. Xena glanced at the two guards then she arched an eyebrow at the ruler. "Did you finally tell them the difference between the warrior and the Conqueror?"

"I did." The ruler smirked but lost it. "However, they haven't seemed to understand that the warrior is friend… not foe." Her eyes narrowed at the two guards.

The guards quickly lifted their spears as the shivers rippled up their backs.

"Thank you," taunted the warrior. She strolled over to the pair.

"Its good to see you," greeted the Conqueror. She held out her arm.

Xena instantly took it and smiled. She gave a brisk shake. "How are things?"

"Very quiet." The Conqueror grinned and released the arm. "Its almost nice."

The soul mates chuckled together.

The ruler turned to a guard. "Please request Queen Gabrielle's presence down her."

The guard nodded and disappeared off.

"Amazons bring you?" asked the Conqueror.

"Yes," answered the warrior-bard. "We got here early this afternoon." She folded her arms. "Was a treaty settled?"

The ruler nodded. "Yes there was a treaty settled. Just a week ago."

"I take it then that Gabrielle will be leaving?" asked the warrior.

"I do not know… quite yet," answered the Conqueror. She heard the guard returning with somebody following him. She stepped aside and glanced over at the Amazon Queen. "A few visitors, Queen Gabrielle."

The Queen smiled at the visitors. "Xena, Gabrielle… I can't believe it."

The small warrior chuckled. "Surprise."

"It sure is." The younger Gabrielle pulled the warrior-bard in for a long hug. She then gave a warm hug to the warrior. She stepped back and stood, rather close, beside the Conqueror. "How long are you here for?"

"We're not sure, yet." The older Gabrielle peered up at her lover.

Xena glanced down, not totally concerned about the length.

"You're both welcomed to stay here," cut in the Conqueror.

"What you say, partner?" asked the warrior-bard.

The warrior smiled, now, at the Conqueror. "So, do you have any spare bedrooms with hot tubs?"

The ruler laughed deeply and nodded. "Of course."

"Wait." The Amazon Queen faced the Conqueror with her hands on her hips. "Why did I nor my Amazons receive a bedroom with a hot tub?"

The Conqueror faced the smaller woman. "Because I treat my friends better than my allies."

The Queen huffed while she dropped her hands. "I'll remember that when you come to my Nation."

The ruler grinned but turned back to her friends. "Did you bring anything?"

"Nope, empty handed."

"Fine," The ruler grinned. "Everything is provided for you here." She held her hand out to the hall door. "This way."

The warrior-bard went ahead followed by her soul mate.

"Queen Gabrielle," whispered the Conqueror.

The Amazon Queen raised an eyebrow. "I believe we'll have to rework the treaty." She strolled towards the door.

"Oh?"

"Yes, we need to include hot tubs upon my visits here."

Xena laughed quietly and left the throne room with the other women. "I do believe the treaty is fine." She paused. "You have not seen the finer print."

"What finer print?" asked the Queen quietly.

"Later." The Conqueror gestured and moved faster. She led the soul mates to their room.

~*~*~*~

Queen Gabrielle turned around after she heard the knock on the door, late tonight. "Come in."

The door opened and the Conqueror reappeared in the doorway. "Its later," she stated coolly.

Gabrielle raised an eyebrow. "Time for the… finer print?"

The corner of the ruler's lips twitched with a grin. "Yes, if you would like."

The small woman chuckled and said, "I don't think it's my bedtime quite yet."

"Wonderful." The Conqueror stepped aside in the doorway. "Care to join beside me?" she asked while she held her right hand up.

The younger woman searched hard blue eyes but they were soft deep inside. She blinked at this; not quite sure. All the other times she'd been required to follow behind the ruler in a fashion of respect. But now… it's different and she had to wonder if she was making headway.

Carefully and slowly, Gabrielle came closer and reached out. She took the much larger hand and she watched as the long fingers curled over hers. Quickly she closed the door silently then walked down the hall.

The Conqueror was quiet as a breeze and opened a door to a huge bathing room. She released the small hand and held her own hand out to the room. "The finer print of our treaty."

Gabrielle strolled in and gazed around at the huge room that contained a pool size bathtub.

The ruler stood behind the Queen, she saw the servants moving, preparing to help. She held her hand up for them to stay.

The Amazon Queen finally closed her mouth and turned around. "Not bad."

Xena chuckled deeply. "Does it meet your approval, Queen Gabrielle?"

"It'll do." The young woman nodded with her hands behind her back. She glanced around again. "A bit smaller than the one in the Nation."

The Warrior Princess grinned momentarily then went up the steps. "Servants," she ordered.

The servants came over instantly and begun removing the ruler's armor then the rest of her attire.

Gabrielle on the other hand strolled around the huge room. She'd really come to notice how many balconies the ruler had around her castle, she found it rather odd. She turned around and when she did Xena stood before her in the nude slowly walking down the steps into the steaming water. She looked away.

The Conqueror caught this and grinned inwardly yet still a sigh escaped her lips. She came down to the end where Gabrielle was near. "Care to join?"

The small woman's pastel green eyes lowered to the dark woman. "Why not?" She chuckled.

"Very well." The Conqueror glanced at the servant. "You heard our guest."

The servants nodded briskly and scurried to help the Amazon Queen.

Xena grinned at how Gabrielle wasn't use to the servitude. She moved back to the opposite side of the tub. After she leaned against the pool, she lifted her arms along the edge and dropped her head back. Within a few seconds, she felt the water moving and knew Gabrielle was in.

The Amazon Queen stayed on the opposite side. She found a bit of a seat on a step. She sighed contently as the warm water relaxed her body and mind.

"Wonderful, isn't it?" asked the ruler. Her sharp, sky eyes opened.

"It is," replied Gabrielle. She smiled softly.

The Conqueror tilted her head. "May I inquired you about a few things?"

The Queen nodded faintly. "I am an open book to you, Conqueror."

The Warrior Princess gave a brief nod then straightened up. "You were born in Potidaea, correct?"

"Yes."

"A mother and father, a younger sister… Lila?"

"Yes," answered Gabrielle.

"All dead?" questioned the ruler.

The small woman nodded and lowered her eyes to the water. "Yes," she whispered.

Xena raised an eyebrow slowly as she spoke, "Your village was taken over by one of my commanders, you were taken into slavery by Lord Sinteres." She paused. "You were a slave until you were eighteen when the Amazons set you free." She stopped and sighed. "Further detail is a bit blurred for me."

Gabrielle licked her lips and finished her story. "I became an Amazon as soon as they took me in." She peered across at the darker woman. "The Princess… Teries was killed in a rebellion, I was there and tried saving her. But she still died and I took her caste. Eventually there was another rebellion that Queen Melosa was in and she too was killed."

"And you were next in line," finished the Conqueror.

"Yes."

Xena's head bobbed up and down as she thought. She stared across the bathroom. "I presume you remained with Lord Sinteres as his slave for all those years?" Her eyes flickered over to the small woman.

"Yes, I did." The Amazon Queen sighed deeply. "You always check your allies background?"

"I like to know who I am bring in arms reach, yes," responded Xena. She tilted her head. "Tell me about your slavery years."

Gabrielle shook her head. "There's nothing to tell… I was a slave for eight years, that's all."

"Never beaten, whipped, branded?" questioned the Conqueror.

The younger woman swallowed and stared at the steaming water. "I was… taken several times, beaten of course…" She looked up. "I was a slave." She got up from the step and crossed the distance. "As far as branding goes…" Once close enough, she turned around. Gabrielle reached up and pulled her hair up, revealing the back of her neck.

The Warrior Princess's eyes focused in on the black tattoo of Lord Sinteres, which she knew all too well. She reached up and touched it gently. "Hard years," she whispered with her hand slipping back under the water.

Gabrielle lowered her hair and turned around. "They were… but I tell myself that it could have been harder."

"Yes… you could have had my path," stated the ruler.

The Amazon Queen smiled sadly. "I would have preferred that if it meant you had an easier path." She got no verbal response from the Conqueror but her only response was loud enough. Her blue eyes had softened just quietly to Gabrielle.

"Well… that's been my road so far," Gabriele whispered. She made her way across the pool and leaned against the wall.

"If I recall correctly, you're an aspiring bard?"

Gabrielle nodded. "I am, a bit hard but I've been trying."

"What makes it hard?"

The small woman tilted her head. "A lack of inspiration in this world."

Xena chuckled deeply. "You'd think in this world it would be all the inspiration for the heroes."

"I wouldn't know what a hero is, Conqueror." The Queen let out a sigh. "This world is full of evil."

"There are heroes here, Queen Gabrielle." The Conqueror grinned. "You're just looking in the wrong place." She paused as her grin enlarged. "You have the wrong definition of a hero."

"Well…" Gabrielle took a deep breath. "I've certainly seen plenty of tragic heroes in my lifetime."

"Better tragic than none," whispered the ruler. She took a heavy breath, letting the warm steam relax her senses. "Have you thought upon my offer to stay longer?"

The Queen nodded. "I would be quite grateful to stay longer," answered the small woman. "However, I'd like to return to the Nation briefly."

"Check on affairs?"

"Yes." Gabrielle paused then asked, "If you don't mind, my regent and Eponin would like to stay longer as well."

"Of course." The Conqueror lifted herself off the wall. "But… do not over use your time," she warned.

The Amazon Queen tilted her head. "Tell me when the expiration date is and I'll head off back to my Amazons."

Xena nodded while she neared the pool's steps. She stopped and glanced at the younger woman. "The date is more up to you," she said quietly before she went up the steps. "Servants."

One came over with a robe for the Conqueror and Xena slipped into it. She turned around while she tied the sash. "Enjoy the rest of your evening." She let a tiny smile curve her lips. "And you may use this room anytime you see fit."

Gabrielle bowed her head slightly. "Thank you, my liege."

"Goodnight." The Warrior Princess walked down the steps as her robe flowed behind. She went to a small room to the side and changed into her leathers and armor once more. She tied her boots and left the room.

The Conqueror left the bathing room then she headed down to her office. Before she entered, she found a guard. "Request Draco here in my office."

"Yes, my liege." The guard crossed his fisted hand over his chest then marched off.

Xena entered her office as she brushed her wet bangs out of the way. She was grateful for the torches being lit along with the fireplace. Having gone around her desk, she opened one scroll and skimmed over it.

"My liege." Draco entered the office. "You called."

The Conqueror placed the scroll back down and looked up when the man stood before her. "I need you to handle an affair for me, Draco."

The second in command nodded. "Of course, my liege."

"Do you know of Lord Sinteres?"

The warrior quickly nodded. "Who does not, my liege?" He paused and added, "He is one of the largest slavers in your realm."

"Yes he is, isn't he?" Xena grinned and placed her hands behind her back. "You are to take as many men as you think necessary and visit Lord Sinteres."

"To carry out what?"

The Conqueror's eyes shifted into a deep blue. "You are to kill Lord Sinteres and destroy his establishment. Is this clear, Draco?"

"My liege, he brings in much money to your realm. He holds a large amount of power." Draco narrowed his eyes. "It would be foolish to kill him." He shook his head. "And with no reason."

"I do not care about how much income he has in my kingdom, Draco." Xena narrowed her eyes. "I have thousands of other funds, I can do perfectly fine without one slaver." She leaned towards the man. "You are to kill him and destroy his compound." She leaned closer to the man. "And do this quietly." She paused as her dark eyes locked on the man. "Is this clear, Draco?" her voice was slow but seeping with anger.

Draco grounded his teeth together but answered, "Yes, my liege." He bowed his head. "It'll be done… quickly, quietly, and efficiently."

"Make sure it is done properly." Xena straightened up. "I do not want to hear of any screw ups."

"As you wish, my liege." The second in command folded his arms. "Is that all?"

"Yes, you're dismissed."

"Goodnight, my liege." Draco bowed his head before he left the office.

The Conqueror soon left her own office and headed to her room for the night.

~*~*~*~

The warrior-bard tucked her hands under her head. She sensed her warrior getting into the bed beside her. She turned her head to Xena. "Thank you for doing this."

The older woman smiled softly. "I'm glad you had asked."

Gabrielle chuckled but sighed. "I was just worried the Conqueror had gone back."

Xena grinned. "She hasn't and you've done all that worrying for nothing."

The small warrior mock glared at her soul mate. "Whatever… you were worried too."

"Yeah, I actually was," confessed the warrior. She turned onto her side and smiled down at her lover. "Its good to see her and Gabrielle getting along."

The younger woman chuckled. "Yeah, I noticed that." She moved her hands from under her head onto her stomach. "Do you smell a romance in the air too?"

The Warrior Princess chuckled and rested her left hand on Gabrielle's. "I don't think they have much choice." She grinned.

"Really." The small woman chuckled. "How long do you think we'll stay?" She shrugged. "Not too long huh?"

"A couple of days," agreed Xena. "We do need to catch up with Eve."

"We're meeting her in the Amazon village?"

The older woman nodded. "Yes, she was staying with Sara."

Gabrielle nodded. "Eve and Sara were… getting along pretty well." Her voice held suggestion.

Xena sighed dramatically. "Don’t even."

The warrior-bard laughed and turned one her hands up. Her fingers laced through her soul mate's. "Well, we both know how love works."

"The understatement of the century," whispered the warrior. She leaned down and kissed her lover gently. "Tired?" she asked at the end of the kiss.

"Yeah." Gabrielle rolled to the left into her warrior's arms.

Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle then she got onto her back.

"Xena…" The small warrior lifted her head off her partner's chest. "You're not…"

"Jealous?" asked the warrior with a grin. "No, why would I be?"

"Oh don't give me that." Gabrielle chuckled briefly then said, "Considering what happened between the Conqueror and I."

"Is in the past," stated Xena. She shrugged. "You're mine… I have nothing to worry about." She ran her fingers through short blond hair. "Nor am I going to be a… bitch and make a scene." She grinned.

The small warrior grinned back faintly. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"Mmm anything for Gabrielle," teased the warrior.

"Got that right," joked the warrior-bard. She leaned down and kissed her warrior tenderly.

Xena quickly responded as her fingers trailed up her lover's sides.

Gabrielle pulled back with a smile, however she quickly moved in for a more passionate kiss.

~*Part 2*~

"Come in," called the Conqueror from the balcony of her room. She heard the person come in and quietly close the door. She knew instinctively who it was. "Good morning, Queen Gabrielle."

The Amazon Queen grinned at how the ruler knew it was she. She strolled across the room and came out onto the balcony. "Good morning, Conqueror."

"What brings you here?" asked Xena. She still hadn't given the small woman a glance.

Gabrielle rubbed the back of her neck for a moment. "When I woke up, I noticed Draco left with several men."

"And?" asked the dark ruler.

The small woman grasped the rail of the balcony. "Where were they headed, if you don't mind my asking?"

The Conqueror peered down at the young woman. "To carry out a mission for me," she stated nonchalantly. "A payment of what's happened in the past, so to say." She glimpsed back over her capital. "Nothing to worry about, Queen Gabrielle."

"I'll take your word on it," said Gabrielle quietly. "Has a copy of the treaty been made?"

"Its in progress," answered the ruler. "It should be here either tomorrow or the following day."

"Thank you."

Xena simply nodded.

"May I ask you something?" asked the small woman as a tiny grin swept across her lips.

The Conqueror corked an eyebrow in question.

"Why… why do you have so many balconies?"

The rule's expression shifted into amusement. "I enjoy a nice view."

"I can relate to that but it still doesn't explain why you have about a trillion balconies off your castle."

"Its just the way my castle was built," replied Xena.

Gabrielle huffed. "Sounds more like one of the mysteries of the known-world."

The Warrior Princess chuckled quietly. "Why does the Conqueror have so many balconies?" she said with complete amusement.

"Exactly." Gabrielle chuckled herself then she peered up. "By the way, thank you for the use of your bathing room."

The Conqueror nodded. "Of course…" She glimpsed down at the small woman. "I will be expecting a nice bath house in your Nation when I visit." She raised an eyebrow.

Gabrielle coughed falsely and glanced back at Athens. "Yes well… you may have to wait."

"Oh?"

The Queen smiled sheepishly. "We really don't have one in the Nation."

"I see," taunted the Conqueror.

The small woman sighed and moved closer to the rail and leaned on it. "Yeah well..." She chuckled. "Been meaning to tap into the local hot spring for the Nation."

"Well then, I recommend when you return briefly that you have your Amazons begin working on it." The Conqueror paused as she straightened up. "I will expect an invite to the Nation upon being allies."

Gabrielle, now, studied the ruler's face. She noted Xena was half-joking and half-serious. "Of course, my liege." She bowed her head faintly even though a tiny grin corked her lips.

The ruler let a hint of a grin masked the corner of her lips. "Now then, have you had breakfast?"

"Not at all, Conqueror."

Xena nodded before she ambled into her room. "Let's find the guests." She went to the door and held it open. "Join me, Queen Gabrielle?"

"Would love too." The Queen crossed the distance and went out of the door.

The Warrior Princess closed the door and quietly led the Queen down the hall.

Gabrielle noted how the ruler had been wearing her leathers and armor with weapons since her arrival several weeks ago. "Conqueror?" she said quietly.

The ruler stopped and waited for the small woman to join beside her. "Yes, Queen Gabrielle?" She begun walking again with Gabrielle beside her.

"I was just wondering…" The young woman peered up. "Why have you been wearing your armor so much?"

The Conqueror grinned as she came to the soul mates' room. She faced the small woman. "I have guests."

"Aaaand you're threatened by them?" inquired the Queen, completely puzzled.

"Not at all." Xena lost her grinned. "They are the ones at threat." She turned to the door. "By my men." She knocked on the door.

"How?" whispered Gabrielle.

"Changes are happening, Queen Gabrielle," uttered the ruler. "Where there are changes, there is danger." She peered down. "Be careful." The door opened when she looked up again. "Morning, Gabrielle."

The small warrior smiled and leaned against the door. "What's the early morning visit about?"

"Breakfast," answered Queen Gabrielle. "Wanted to see if you and Xena wanted to join the Conqueror and I."

"I know I will." The older Gabrielle grinned.

"I figured the lion needed feeding," taunted the ruler.

The warrior-bard shot a small glare for the old joke. "Come in, you two." She stepped back while she opened the door more.

The Conqueror and Queen came in and sat down on two sofas, opposite of each other.

The warrior came out of the bathroom, having just washed her face. "Morning," she greeted to the mirror images.

"Sleep well?" asked Queen Gabrielle.

"Yes," answered the warrior-bard. "Can't go wrong with a huge, comfortable bed."

The Conqueror chuckled and said, "I can understand."

"Considering you know the roads too," agreed the warrior. She turned to her lover "Where's my armor?"

The short warrior grinned. "Hold on." She went over to a table and collected her soul mate's brass armor.

Xena came over and slipped into the armor, she felt her partner's small hands working the buckles.

"What are the plans today?" asked Queen Gabrielle. She glanced at the Conqueror then at the soul mates.

The soul mates shrugged.

Then the warriors plus the Queen turned their attention to the Conqueror.

The Conqueror sighed dramatically. "Just because I am the ruler of this realm does not mean I plan everybody's schedules."

Both Gabrielles laughed together. The warrior, however, just grinned and finished with her armor.

The darker Xena sighed and sat up more in the sofa. "I do though need to finish some work today."

"Sounds like we'll be entertaining ourselves, this morning," stated Queen Gabrielle.

"Afraid so," agreed the Conqueror.

The soul mates came over and stood in front of their counterparts.

"What about a ride later?" asked the younger warrior.

The ruler nodded. "It sounds good to me."

The Amazon Queen groaned quietly. "I hate horses," she grumbled.

"They're not that bad once you get use to them," stated the warrior-bard with a grin.

The younger Gabrielle huffed. "Right." She stood up. "I am going to go get my Amazons if you don't mind, Conqueror."

"Go ahead." The dark Warrior Princess stood up. "We'll head to the dining hall."

"Perfect." Queen Gabrielle flashed a smile then she left.

"Shall we?" asked the ruler.

Xena grinned. "After you, Conqueror."

The ruler corked an eyebrow. "Should I be worried?"

"Only if you think so," answered the warrior

For an answer, the Conqueror went to the door and exited.

The soul mates chuckled and left.

~*~*~*~

"How about a little sparring?" asked Queen Gabrielle.

Xena glanced at her lover.

The older Gabrielle shrugged. "Why not?" She looked at her younger mirror image. "You know how to fight?"

The Queen sat up in the wood chair of the dining hall. "Yes, I know the sword and staff."

The Conqueror instantly peered across at the Amazon Queen. She hadn't imagined the young woman using any weapons but then again this was an Amazon Queen.

"The Queen however, is reluctant to use the sword," announced Ephiny.

"That's due to the fact I prefer not to kill," noted the Queen with her eyes pinning on her regent.

The Conqueror glanced over at the slaves and gave them the signal to clear the tables. She glanced back at her guests.

"Smart choice," stated the warrior-bard.

"It is," agreed the Conqueror. Her eyes locked on the Amazon Queen. "You enter another world once you've killed," she said quietly.

"You do," whispered the short warrior sadly.

The warrior grasped her soul mate's hand under the table in comfort.

Gabrielle smiled up at her lover.

Ephiny grinned. "And that's why we do not provide our Queen with a sword."

The Queen chuckled and folded her arms. "Well… when push comes to shove…" she trailed of solemnly.

"You'll knock them over with your staff," joked Eponin, in hopes to lighten things.

Everybody chuckled.

The dark ruler suddenly stood up. "I need to finish some work. Till then I imagine you five can entertain yourselves."

Queen Gabrielle nodded and peered up. "I think we can manage." She grinned.

"Good." The Conqueror paused then said, "If you decide to spar, ask any of my guards for a staff, Queen Gabrielle."

"Thank you, Conqueror."

The ruler nodded before she left the dining hall.

"So, who's going first?" asked the weapons master.

The warrior leaned towards her partner. "I am going to go talk to the Conqueror."

Gabrielle peered up into cool blue eyes. "About Draco?" she whispered.

The Warrior Princess nodded. "Yes, I'll join you later."

"Alright." Gabrielle leaned over and kissed her lover softly on the lips.

Xena returned the kiss then she stood up with a smile. "Don't beat them all up," she teased.

"Rrright." Gabrielle grinned and watched her warrior leave.

The Warrior Princess strolled down the hall and found the Conqueror's office. She stood in the doorway and knocked on the doorframe. "Conqueror."

The ruler sat behind her desk, writing something. "Come in, Xena… sit down."

Xena did just that and sat down before the ruler's desk.

The Conqueror finished writing something then she peered up. "I take it this isn't a social visit."

The warrior chuckled, she sat back in her chair. "Its about Draco."

The dark Warrior Princess grinned at that and sat back in her seat. She folded her hands over her stomach. "Go on."

The warrior didn't say anything at first, just finding her words. "How much do you trust him?" She knew the answer without asking.

"Let's say I wouldn't let Argo eat the grass he's walked on," stated the ruler.

Xena nodded at the Conqueror's response. "Then why…?"

The Conqueror grinned. "Xena, you know why." She shifted in her seat. "I keep my friends close but-"

"My enemies closer," finished the Gabrielle's soul mate. "I know and I understand, naturally." She paused before she added, "But why keep him this close when you have such a precious package in this castle. You are simply asking for trouble."

"Times are changing, Xena." The darker woman lifted her locked hands up, her elbows on the chair arms. "The sun is peaking over the horizon and soon my enemies will reappear in the sunlight." She paused. "I am preparing for this."

"But you are threatening Queen Gabrielle's life," said Xena lowly.

"That's exactly what I want," stated the Conqueror. "She is the bait that will bring my prey closer." She leaned towards the warrior. "I am never the mouse in these games, I am the trap."

The warrior narrowed her eyes about to counter that.

The Conqueror held up a hand. "Hold off." She lowered her hand. "I understand your concern about Queen Gabrielle." She stopped before she said, "But she is safe."

"How do you figure that?" whispered Xena to the Conqueror. "By her being near you she is a target, Conqueror." She narrowed her eyes. "The more your enemies will believe she is worth using against you. In one fashion or another." She leaned towards the ruler. "She is better off in her Nation surrounded by her Amazons."

"This is little of your concern, Xena."

"It is all my concern," countered the warrior. "More my concern than it is yours." She stood up. "She is my friend, I fear for her life, she is my concern." She paused. "I'd just to like to know why you're so intent on digging a hole underneath her."

The Conqueror rose up to her full height. "Remember Xena, she is a… big girl and can decide for herself where she wants to be." She folded her arms. "I am being an ally and enlisting her help."

"I believe you forgot to ask her for that help," stated the warrior.

"Do not get into my affairs, Xena," growled the ruler. She pressed her hands against the desk, leaning towards her mirror image. "This is between Queen Gabrielle and I. Stay out of it."

The Warrior Princess lost her control on her anger and let it all come out hotly to the ruler. "Well I fucking suggest you ask Queen Gabrielle. This is now my affair because I will not have a good person killed over your damn selfishness."

"Is that what you think this is, Xena?" The ruler laughed with anger. "Queen Gabrielle is in as much of a threat in her Nation as she is here." She shook her head. "I am saving Queen Gabrielle's life," she growled. "Stay out of this," she snarled lowly.

The Warrior Princess growled and stalked away from the desk. She neared the doorway to the balcony and turned around.

The Conqueror folded her arms. "I do not abuse my allies, Xena." She arched an eyebrow. "Things are under control." She tilted her head. "It has already begun."

"Care to share how you expect to keep Queen Gabrielle safe when your enemies are all around you?" Xena strolled back over.

The ruler grinned and lowered her hands back to the desk's edge. "As I said, its already begun. This morning Draco left to take out the largest slaver in the slave trade of the known-world."

"And this'll do what?" asked the warrior.

"Two things." The Conqueror came around the desk and sat down on the corner. "It first will protect Queen Gabrielle and second it will cause an uproar of the evil in my kingdom." She grinned. "Then I can begin flushing out my enemies once they've heard I've gone… soft."

"I presume it'll protect Queen Gabrielle from the slave trade," stated the warrior.

"Yes," agreed the ruler. "It'll scare the slavers, a warning to them not to touch Queen Gabrielle." She was about to add more but stopped herself. "The process has begun Xena, I recommend you and Gabrielle head back to your world." She shook her head. "It'll be safer."

"I'd prefer staying for protection."

"But?" asked the Conqueror.

"But Gabrielle and I are due somewhere else."

"I can imagine, being heroes keeps you busy." The Conqueror straightened up. "Is there anything else you needed?"

The warrior corked an eyebrow. "Do you know of Palamon?"

The ruler chuckled and said, "He is the captain of my guards, yes. Why?"

"I'd suggest enlisting his help," replied Xena. "In my world, he's quite reliable."

"In another words… he's a hero."

The warrior nodded. "Exactly."

"I'll look into it." The Conqueror folded her arms. "Now, I have a request of you and Gabrielle."

Xena nodded at the darker Warrior Princess.

The ruler took a deep breath. "If things get out of control I may send Queen Gabrielle to your world."

"We'll take care of her," stated the warrior.

"I was hoping so. I'll be sure to send a few Amazons with her."

"Good." The warrior-bard's soul mate lowered her arms. "If you it so happens you need extra support, you know the passage to our world."

The Conqueror shook her head. "I can take care of things fine."

The warrior grinned. "Even I know when I am wrong."

The ruler smirked back. "I am the Conqueror." She went back around the desk and sat down.

"Even conquerors make mistakes," whispered the warrior. She walked over to the door. "Maybe more often than the rest of us."

The Conqueror peered up. "I'll keep that in mind." She laced her hands together on her desk. "Where are the others?"

"Sparring, I presume."

The ruler grinned. "I hope your partner doesn't beat them all up."

The Warrior Princess chuckled quietly. "I am about to find out." She headed out of the door.

"Xena," called the Conqueror. "We still have a sparring between us."

Xena stopped in the hall and yelled back, "I am ready whenever you are… Conqueror."

The ruler grinned to herself and went back to work.

The warrior grinned to herself as well before she went outside.

~*~*~*~

The Conqueror came down the steps and onto the sparring field. She watched as Xena fought against both Gabrielles. She grinned at the sight. Off to the sides, she noted the Amazons watching. She joined them.

The warrior found it odd to fight her lover and the Amazon Queen. It was like battling the past and future Gabrielle, at points it almost made her lose her focus. But she held her ground against a staff and pair of sais.

"I take it this has been interesting to watch," stated the Conqueror to the Amazons.

Ephiny peered up with hard eyes. "It is," she said faintly cold.

The ruler sighed inwardly. She had yet to reach a full understanding with the Amazons. The Amazons still angry with her for crucifying their Queen- she didn't blame them.

The Warrior Princess ducked as a staff went over her head, she jumped back in time as sais breezed past her breasts. She arched an eyebrow at her soul mate.

The short warrior chuckled but suddenly a sly grin washed over her lips. Without warning, she sprinted the tiny distance between she and Xena. She gave a hard roundhouse kick.

The warrior ducked and bounced back.

The Amazon Queen dropped her staff and decided to watch now as the soul mates fought. She glimpsed over at the Conqueror.

The ruler gave a hidden smile.

The Queen strolled over and joined the ruler but her eyes stayed pinned on the partners sparring. She noted how much faster they sparred together, it was as if they read each other's moves. "They're amazing," she whispered.

The Conqueror nodded. "That's what five years will do," she whispered.

The Warrior Princess knocked her lover's sais from her hands.

Gabrielle grinned and backed up a little. She arched an eyebrow in challenge.

Xena closed in with a twirl of her sword.

The warrior-bard laughed and kicked at her soul mate's sword hand.

The sword flew from the warrior's hands and landed far away.

Gabrielle bounced onto the balls of her feet. Her hands up prepared to wrestle.

Xena grinned evilly and lifted her hands up.

The partners started circling each other, eyes locked, and heavy breathing, and tensed bodies.

"Watch this," whispered the Conqueror to the Queen.

The Queen peered up at the older woman.

The ruler nodded back at the soul mates.

Queen Gabrielle focused her attention back on the lovers as she leaned against her staff.

The warrior-bard narrowed her eyes and leaped forward while she slung a fist.

Xena simply caught the fist in her right hand. Her hands curled around the small fast and begun squeezing hard.

Gabrielle gritted her teeth but was showing a grin. She instantly rammed her right knee up into her lover's stomach.

The warrior took it without flinching. She smirked back and kept tightening her hold on Gabrielle's hand.

The short warrior knew another knee ram wouldn't do much. So she moved in and swiped her feet under Xena's legs.

The Warrior Princess went crashing to the ground.

Gabrielle jerked her hand free and stepped back.

The older woman flipped back up onto her feet and now her eyes were twinkling.

Oh boy, thought Gabrielle, not going to be good.

Slowly the warrior neared and quickly moved her hands into Gabrielle's defense.

Gabrielle moved her hands quickly enough to stop Xena's attacks. She was so caught into it that she hadn't noticed her partner about to move.

Xena had dropped and did a kick.

The short warrior crash onto her back now. She quickly rolled to her right as her lover's fist met the ground. She got onto her feet and turned. She rammed her body into Xena's.

Both warriors fell to the ground, Gabrielle on top of Xena.

Gabrielle pinned her soul mate down and grinned down at her. She knew her warrior could easily throw her off but she also knew Xena wasn't about too. "Kiss and make up," she whispered.

The older woman chuckled and pulled her partner's head down. Her warm lips sealed over her lover's in a tender kiss.

Slowly the pair got up after the kiss. They collect their weapons and strolled over to their audience.

"So, how about that ride?" asked Gabrielle peering up at the Conqueror.

The ruler grinned and glimpsed down at the Queen. "If… Queen Gabrielle believes she can handle it."

The Amazon Queen sighed. "Let's go."

Everybody laughed quietly then followed the ruler to the stables.

They came out of the stables with tacked horses then the Conqueror noted Queen Gabrielle lacked a horse.

"Problem, Queen Gabrielle?" she asked deeply.

"I'm not big on horses, Conqueror." The small woman grinned. "Thought I could walk."

The ruler sighed and mounted Argo. "Not a good idea." She held a hand down to the younger woman. "Ride with me," she ordered.

The Amazon Queen raised an eyebrow.

"Or ride a horse on your own," stated the ruler deeply.

The Queen groaned and took the older woman's hand. She was hauled up into the saddle with her staff.

The Conqueror took the staff and attached it to the saddle in the back. She glanced over at her friends and the Amazons. "Ready?"

They nodded together.

"This way." The ruler turned her mare towards the gates. She didn't feel any small arms around her waist. "Queen Gabrielle, I recommend you hold on."

The Queen slowly snaked her arms around the older woman's waist, not quite sure about this riding.

~*Part 3*~

The group had returned from the 'trail' ride back during the sunset, in time for dinner and to tame the lions in the two Gabrielles' stomachs. After that dinner, Queen Gabrielle had decided on leaving the following morning, or rather this morning; headed back home to her Amazons.

Xena pulled jerked down the girdle and tightened it before buckling it in. "Your set," she stated to her horse, she patted him on the side. She glanced over at her soul mate. "You ready, Gabrielle?"

"Pretty much," replied the warrior-bard, she finished up with putting the face tack on the horse. "Good to go, Xen."

The Conqueror reappeared from the castle and neared the group by the stables. "Is everything organized?" she asked deeply.

"Yes, just about," reported Palamon, he raised his head after bowing.

"How man guards are going with the party?"

"Fifteen, my liege," replied the Captain of the Guards.

"Fine." The ruler glanced over and noted the warrior and Gabrielle ready to go. She spotted the two Amazons already mounted on their horses. "Are you all ready to travel?"

Ephiny nodded but said, "We are missing one thing."

The Conqueror lifted an eyebrow. "And that is?"

"Our Queen," answered the regent as a grin creased her lips.

The Conqueror groaned and turned towards the doors of her castle. "I will returned with the Queen." She strolled off briskly in a hot pursuit for the Queen.

 

Gabrielle looked up when the door to her room opened.

"Are you ready, Queen Gabrielle?" inquired the Conqueror, she stood tall and proud in the doorway.

The Amazon Queen nodded a few times. "I think so." She picked up her satchel off the bed and lifted the strap up and over her head. She let the strap cross against her chest. "Is everybody else ready?"

"Ready and waiting… for you," teased the ruler lightly.

Gabrielle chuckled yet shook her head. "Sorry."

"Its fine, follow me," ordered Xena, and she stepped aside, holding the door open.

The small woman exited the room and waited for the ruler to lead the way.

Xena closed the door and said, "This way." She headed down the hall but in the opposite direction of the way of the main doors.

"Conqueror?" Gabrielle grasped the strap across her chest in a bit of worry.

"Yes, Queen Gabrielle?"

"Where are we going?"

The Conqueror turned to a door and stopped. "To my room briefly." She grabbed the handle and opened the door. "Come in."

The Queen sighed yet entered the large room.

"Stay there," ordered the ruler. She then walked into a side room.

Gabrielle heard the sound of a trunk opening; she crossed her arms and started getting a bit more worried. "Conqueror-"

"Its alright," cut off Xena, she reappeared out of the room. She quickly came towards the Amazon; something contained within her hand.

The Amazon Queen gazed at the item in the large hands. She dropped her head to one side and stared at the silver dagger in the leather sheath. "Wh-wh…." She peered up, her expression completely confused.

The Conqueror's chest rose up high, and she released that breath slowly. "This was my brother's dagger." She locked her eyes on Gabrielle. "He… passed away several years back at a young age." She licked her lips within the pause but continued on. "I want you to keep this with you for protection reasons."

"But Conqueror, I can't kil-"

"I know… I know." The ruler cupped one of the smaller woman's hands, lifting it and palm up. "Keep it on you for protection, that's all I ask." She carefully placed the dagger and sheath into the warm hand.

Gabrielle stared down at it and enclosed her fingers over the dagger. "Why?" she whispered while looking back up.

Xena swallowed for a second and whispered, "You have many enemies now, Queen Gabrielle… many."

"Because… I've allied myself with you?" It was more a statement than a question.

"Yesss." The Conqueror still held onto the Queen's hand. "You are now a target and must be extremely careful, Queen Gabrielle."

"I will be," uttered Gabrielle as she searched the larger woman's eyes. "Thank you."

Xena nodded and replied, "And thank you," in a very quiet voice.

The Queen faintly shook her head. "For…?"

"For allying yourself with me despite the dangers, my Queen." The Conqueror squeezed the Amazon Queen's hand tightly.

Gabrielle let a smile curl up on her lips.

Then there was a sudden change in the Conqueror's attitude, she released Gabrielle's hand and stated, "Time to go."

The Amazon Queen nodded and stepped back, out of the way. She then followed the ruler out of the room, down the hall, through the throne room, and outside. Coming to the stables, she spotted her friends and the guards prepared to travel. She quickly slipped her dagger into her satchel carefully and neared Ephiny's horse.

"Are you ready now, my Queen?" taunted the regent.

Gabrielle pretended to consider but replied, "I think so."

Ephiny chuckled and said, "Here I'll take your satchel." She was handed the satchel and she hooked it onto her saddlebag. Next she held out her hand and helped the Queen up into the saddle.

Gabrielle settled into the saddle behind her Amazon and slipped her arms around her regent.

The Conqueror, the entire time, had been talking to the soul mates. "Be safe," she told them.

"We will," replied the warrior-bard. "Thank you for letting us stay."

"Thank you for the visit," countered the ruler with a warm smile. "Wish you two could have stayed longer."

Xena gave a small sigh. "We wish ourselves but we're needed back in our world."

"Yes… the balance can't be broken too much," agreed the Conqueror.

"Take care of yourself, Conqueror," said Gabrielle, her warm smiled never breaking.

"You too, Gabrielle." The ruler moved closer to the warrior-bard's horse.

The small warrior leaned over and down and hugged the Conqueror as best as she could.

The darker Xena returned the strong hug before moving closer to the other Xena and shaking arms with her. The Conqueror then walked over to the Queen and held out a hand.

Queen Gabrielle took the much larger hand.

"You will return?"

"Yes," replied the Queen. "Three to five days," she added in.

"Fine." Xena squeezed the hand and let go. "Safe travels, Queen Gabrielle."

"Thank you." Gabrielle grinned a little. "Don't get too bored by yourself."

The Conqueror stepped away when she saw the group starting to move. "I'll entertain myself just fine."

"That! I do believe," teased the Queen with a small giggle.

The ruler just shook her head and crossed her arms over her chest. She watched the group head towards the gates of the castle. She heard both Gabrielles and Xena call, "Goodbye." She simply waved back until she saw gates closed up behind them.

~*~*~*~

Gabrielle kicked her horse into a fast trot and caught up with the Queen and regent's horse. "Queen Gabrielle?"

The Queen glanced at the warrior-bard and smiled. "Not Queen Gabrielle… just Gabrielle."

The warrior-bard chuckled at her own words she would have said in the Queen's position. "I will."

"Good." The small Queen shifted in the saddle a little and asked, "You have a question, it's in your eyes."

The small warrior nodded and replied, "The treaty with the Conqueror is final?"

"Yes." The Amazon Queen released one arm from around her regent and settled that hand on her leg. "Benefits both the Nation and the Realm."

Gabrielle nodded at the younger Gabrielle. "Good, I was worried."

The Amazon Queen grinned and stated, "You should know me better than that, Gabrielle."

The warrior-bard laughed and shook her head. "Yes, I should… you have very good skills when it comes to negotiations."

"I do," agreed the Queen. She turned in the saddle and reached into her satchel, she pulled out a scroll that held a seal. She handed it to Gabrielle. "Here it is."

Xena caught sight of her partner about to read a scroll, she grinned and shook her head. She quickened her horse's pace and caught up. She felt safer staying beside her soul mate's side while she was reading and riding at the sametime.

The warrior-bard unrolled the scroll while holding the reins in her other hands. She noted her lover riding beside her, which made her smile inwardly. Always protecting me, the thought passed through her mind before she started reading the treaty. As she read along, her head was bobbing up and down. When she finished, she peered up and smiled. "It looks perfect." She lowered the reins on her saddle and proceeded to roll up the scroll. "I'm happy the Conqueror agreed to protect your Nation."

"So am I." The Queen took the scroll back and inserted it back into its home.

"You are returning in a few days?" cut in Xena.

The Queen nodded. "Yes we are."

"We?" asked the warrior-bard.

"Eponin and I," answered back the regent.

Queen Gabrielle grinned evilly and teased, "Yes, my ever loyal subjects." She suddenly coughed when she found her regent's elbow in her stomach.

"Ya know, in my opinion you need more 'loyal subjects' staying in that castle with you, Gabrielle," stated the weapons master as she joined the group.

The Amazon Queen raised an eyebrow at Eponin. "Because…? If I do that, Ep then the Conqueror may feel threatened and disrespected. Its best not to bring in so many Amazons."

The weapons master considered it before saying, "True."

Palamon decided to join the group and quickly asked, "How much further to the Nation?"

"About another candlemark," replied Ephiny in a hard tone.

The Captain of the Guards moved his head in understanding. "Then we will be staying…?"

"No more than three days," answered the Queen.

"Sounds fine," concluded the Captain. He slowed his horse down and began riding in front of his men once more.

Gabrielle swayed back in forth in her saddle but she soon broke the silence with: "Gabrielle, what do you think of the Conqueror?"

The Queen's eyebrows instantly shot up into her bangs as she turned her gaze to the older Gabrielle.

~*~*~*~

Solari stepped out of the gates of the Nation with a warm smile spreading across her expression. "Queen Gabrielle." She bowed her head while several other Amazons came out of the village.

"Solari," greeted back the Queen, her own warm smile on her lips. She quickly dismounted with Ephiny's help. She then embraced her second in command in a strong hug.

"Good to see you back," whispered Solari happily.

"Nice to be back for a little while."

The second in command pulled back with a baffled look. "A little while?"

The Queen nodded and replied, "I cannot stay long… I'll explain later."

"As you wish, Gabrielle." Solari shifted her attention to the other people dismounting. "Xena, Gabrielle." Her bright smile returned and she soon found herself engulfed in hugs from the two warriors, Ephiny, and Eponin.

The Amazon Queen turned to her regent. "See that Palamon and his men are taken to the proper area for them to make camp. Also invite them to our dinner tonight… the other Amazons are to be informed of the nature of their staying."

"Of course." Ephiny turned to Palamon. "Palamon, you and your men are to follow me, please."

The Captain nodded and followed the regent after waving on his men.

The rest of the group, however, treaded into the village during the early sunset. The Queen gave both Xena and Gabrielle a hut to stay in while she headed to her own hut.

 

Gabrielle sat down on the bed in the middle of the hut and smiled at her warrior. "Its been a nice break," she admitted.

"It has." Xena neared her partner, she held her hands down. "Feel better that the Conqueror is unchanged?"

The warrior-bard took her lover's hands. "Yes, a lot better."

The warrior laced her fingers through her soul mate's and pulled her up to her feet. "Anybody you touch, Gabrielle is forever changed," she whispered, "And for the better."

Gabrielle lowered their arms by their side, and she pressed her body into Xena's. "I hope so, Xen." She lowered her head onto Xena's chest.

"You touch everybody's heart, love," uttered the warrior, she lowered her head onto her partner's. She then brought her arms around Gabrielle's waist with Gabrielle's arms behind her back now.

The warrior-bard sighed while closing her eyes, she squeezed her soul mate's hands.

"Tired?" asked the warrior quietly. She started swaying their bodies back and forth together.

"Yes," replied the smaller woman quietly.

"Still have a bit of a night ahead of us." Xena kissed her lover's temple. "Think you can last?" she teased.

"Mmmm, think so," whispered back Gabrielle, she rubbed her cheek against her lover's chest. She chuckled and said, "I feel like a bit of a baby here."

A grin creased the warrior's lips. "No… just cute."

"Not cute," grumbled the warrior-bard. "I'm a warrior… warriors aren't cute."

"Hmmm." The Warrior Princess laughed quietly but her body shook from the laughter. "Oh but you are cute… a cute warrior."

Gabrielle huffed and whispered, "Just… don’t tell anybody."

"I won't," promised Xena quietly. She took a deep breath. "I think there's time for a nap."

"Oooh, that's the best idea I've heard all day."

The warrior laughed and released her lover's hands. She quickly picked up her partner and settled her down on the bed.

The warrior-bard chuckled amusingly, pushed up onto the bed, and lifted her feet up onto the foot of the bed. She laid back on her elbows and watched her lover unlace her boots.

Xena dropped the boots onto the floor and ordered, "Get in bed."

"What about your armor?"

"I have it covered," stated the warrior. "Go on."

Gabrielle smiled then crawled up into the bed and snuggled down under the covers. Within a few minutes, she felt a warmer, larger body join her and pull her in safely. She sighed contently in the strong arms while settling down on her soul mate's body. It did not take her long to fall asleep nor did it take Xena that long.

~*~*~*~

Queen Gabrielle nodded a few times. "That's what I thought."

Gabrielle shifted her weight to her other foot. "Well… Xena and I are needed back in our world."

The Queen grasped her friend's arm and smiled. "I know, Gabrielle." She gave brief squeeze.

The warrior-bard mirrored back the smile before taking a drink of her wine.

The Amazon Queen let go of Gabrielle's arm and turned her focus to the fire.

"You've changed already, Gabrielle," whispered the small warrior.

The Queen was silent as she brought in a deep breath. She nodded and flashed a brief smile to the older Gabrielle. "And that is all your doing." She gazed back at the fire that her Amazons danced around in the early evening. "You've made me believe, Gabrielle."

The short warrior shook her head and replied, "No, you've always had hope in you." She paused before adding, "I just showed you the door again."

"And thank you." Queen Gabrielle sighed while staring into the fire. "I have not felt this good about the future since you've came to change everything."

The warrior-bard crossed her arms and tilted her head to one side. "But what is important now, Gabrielle is for you to keep the future bright."

The Queen's head moved up and down several times. "Very true."

The older Gabrielle chewed on the inside of her lower lip but posed the question: "And how do you feel about the Conqueror?"

Queen Gabrielle peered up at her older mirror image and asked, "In what way?"

"Love," stated Gabrielle.

The younger Gabrielle licked her lips while turning her attention back to the fire. "I'm not sure, honestly." She shrugged. "Can love tame the Conqueror?" She shook her head. "I have to wonder about that question."

"Why wonder?" whispered the warrior-bard. "She already has been tamed by love."

"True," agreed the Amazon Queen. "I know you and Xena are meant to be together but…" She lifted her sad green eyes to the warrior-bard. "Does that mean the same for the Conqueror and the Amazon Queen?"

The short warrior tried to come up with the best response, her jaw faintly slack. She pressed her lips together in thought before whispering, "I honestly… don't know…"

The Amazon Queen nodded, and she stared into the fire once more. "Neither do I. I may look and think like you as does the Conqueror and Xena but that does not mean the destinies are the same."

"I am almost positive you will find out, Gabrielle," stated the warrior-bard, "The destinies are different but the fates are the same."

"Time will tell, time will tell," whispered the Amazon Queen.

The older Gabrielle nodded and was about to reply when her partner came up beside her. "Hey, Xena." She brushed her fingertips over her lover's arm.

Xena leaned over and kissed her soul mate lightly and briefly. She then smiled at the Queen. "Evening, Queen Gabrielle."

The Queen laughed and shook her head with a smile. "Just Gabrielle please, Xena."

The warrior smiled back and replied, "Of course." She made a mental note to make sure when she talked to either Gabrielle to have her full attention on them. So then whichever Gabrielle knew whom she was talking to. "Gabrielle, do you know what your plans are from here out with the Conqueror?"

The Queen shook her head after taking a small sip of her wine. "I'm not sure honestly, Xena."

The Warrior Princess nodded and folded her arms. "May I recommend?"

Queen Gabrielle chuckled and nodded. "Your advice, of course."

Xena focused her attention onto the Queen. "I can tell you, that the Conqueror will be tricky to figure out at first."

The Amazon Queen moved her head in agreement.

"If your life ever seems threatened I wouldn't worry about protection too much." The Warrior Princess grinned faintly. "My guess is the Conqueror will stake anything to keep you."

"Oh?" Queen Gabrielle gave a teasing grin. "Must be all these Amazons."

"Exactly," teased back the warrior.

The Queen chuckled however went a bit serious. "I will be careful though."

"Do that," replied the Warrior Princess. "There are changes happening in this world. Your life is in a lot of danger since you're allying with the Conqueror."

"That is a risk I'll gladly take," stated the Queen with a nod. "If it means my life for a new world then I'll do it."

"Let's not plan on it though," cut in the warrior-bard, she grasped her friend's arm.

Queen Gabrielle smiled at the older Gabrielle. "Not on my list to do."

The short warrior smiled brightly back.

~*Part 4*~

Xena turned around in a complete circle where she stood then nodded at her partner. "This is the spot."

Queen Gabrielle crossed her arms. "Yes this is." She smiled at her friends. "Travel safely."

"Its just a little pain," teased the warrior-bard as she stood in the center of the Amazon Forest, prepared to go home.

"I know." The Queen moved in for a strong hug with her older version.

The warrior-bard hugged back tightly and whispered, "Good luck."

"Thank you." Queen Gabrielle released her friend. She peered up at Xena. "Xena?"

The warrior slipped a grin into place before saying, "Take care of yourself." She stepped closer and hugged the small woman.

The Amazon Queen kept a hold of the warrior for a long moment.

"Ephiny?"

The regent smiled at the short warrior. "Be safe, Gabrielle."

"I will, Eph." Gabrielle gave a hug to the regent, a lump in her throat again at realizing she had to go back to her world where there was no Ephiny. She pulled back with wet eyes. "Sometimes I'm tempted to steal you away and take you to my Nation," she whispered, a sad grin forming on her lips.

Ephiny laughed softly and nodded several times. "I know, Gabrielle." She paused, her lower lip quivering in upset. "I'm sorry you lost your Ephiny… but I'm still here."

"Yes you are," agreed the small warrior, she hugged Ephiny once more then released her. She stepped back to stand beside her soul mate.

"Ready, partner?" asked the Warrior Princess.

"I think so." Gabrielle smiled up at her lover and then looked to the two Amazons. "We'll be back soon."

"We know," replied the Amazon Queen, she walked backwards with Ephiny and got out of the way. "Be safe, Xena and Gabrielle."

"You too, Queen Gabrielle," called back Gabrielle before she faced her soul mate.

The warrior smiled down at her warrior-bard. She brushed a blond bang back and lowered her head.

Gabrielle held onto her lover's sides as her licks locked on Xena's.

Queen Gabrielle and Ephiny looked away as the lightening bolts struck in the air and a bright light flashed. The Queen looked back and saw the soul mates gone.

Ephiny took a step closer to her Queen and grasped her shoulder.

Gabrielle took a long, deep breath then turned her head to her regent. "Are we ready to go back?"

"Yes, Gabrielle." The Amazon studied her friend's sad eyes. "Are you ready to go back, my Queen?"

"Yes," whispered Gabrielle, something turned in her stomach. "Its time for me to sooth the savage beast."

Ephiny nodded but uttered, "I hope you can before the beast bites back."

"I'll die trying." The Queen turned and started walking towards the village.

The regent took one last second to study the spot where the heroes disappeared from before she followed after her Queen.

~*~*~*~

"File into order!" called Palamon, "Let's go, let's go."

Gabrielle readjusted in her saddle, this time riding a horse by herself. She glanced over at her regent, who nodded that she was ready. She glanced at Eponin, who nodded back too. The Queen held the reins in both hands now and turned to Palamon. "Are we ready, Captain?"

"Yes we are, Queen Gabrielle." The Captain of the Guards shifted in his saddle before focusing on the Queen. "Are you ready?"

"Yes," replied the Queen, "let's move out."

Palamon nodded and ordered, "Fall out, time to move." He kicked his horse and started at a quick walk through the woods.

Queen Gabrielle kicked her horse and road beside the Captain. She gave a wave to Solari at the gates of the Village.

The second in command waved back and smiled but sadly. "Good luck, my Queen," she whispered.

The regent rode along side the Queen while the weapons master rode on her other side.

Palamon was silent but asked, "How long are you staying in the castle for?"

Gabrielle peered up and replied, "I am not sure, Captain."

Palamon grinned and stated, "Palamon please, Queen Gabrielle."

The young Queen released a small chuckle. "Then you can call me just Gabrielle."

"Of course, Gabrielle." Palamon went a bit quite but whispered, "I am glad you've come."

"How is that?"

Palamon smiled softly at the Amazon Queen. "I am not a fan of fighting but… its good to see the Conqueror softening up."

"Oooh, is that what you think is happening to the Conqueror?"

"Yes it is." The Captain shrugged and then added, "But do not mention to her I said that."

Gabrielle shook her head while a grin played on her lips. "I won't, Palamon."

Palamon chewed on his lower lip for a moment. "If you take careful enough steps, I think the world will be saved."

The Queen nodded but whispered, "Its not so much the world I am worried about." She grinned evilly at the Captain.

Palamon's eyebrows shot up. "Oh… I see, Gabrielle." He laughed deeply and nodded. "Then I wish you good luck. Not just anybody can be the Conqueror of the Conqueror. People have tried and tried only to fail."

"I know." Gabrielle swayed back and forth in her saddle. "But I have a secret weapon that nobody else has."

"Oh?" Palamon gave a curious look.

"Just a little love, Palamon… that's all it takes," stated the Queen simply.

"I hope you are right, Gabrielle." The Captain sighed and shook his head. "Anybody that's ever fought with her with flowers as died trying on her thorns."

"I know, I know," whispered the Queen sadly.

After that, the group fell relatively silent and just trekked south to the capital. Within two candlemarks, the group was far, far out of the Amazon Forest and traveling in a thick forest area.

Ephiny whipped her head to the right, her eyes narrowed. "What was that?" she whispered lowly to the weapons master.

Eponin was tense in her saddle and scanning for surrounding forest. "I don't know… but I don't like it."

"What is it?" asked the Queen to her Amazons.

"We're not sure," uttered the regent, her heart pounding now. "Something is about to happen."

Palamon felt the tension in the area. He suddenly stopped his horse and so did everybody else. He drew his sword quietly and all his men followed along.

"I smell a fight," whispered Eponin. She extracted her sword and gritted her teeth.

"Gabrielle, get your staff out," ordered the regent quietly.

The Queen nodded and turned back in her saddle. She unstrapped her staff and kept looking ever which way. She started hearing sounds of leaves crunching and twigs snapping. "They're coming from that way." She pointed due north.

Palamon looked at his men, he waved them forward to line up in front of the group. The men all block the way the noise was coming from, prepared for battle.

"Who you think it is?" asked the Queen to her Amazons.

"Nothing but trouble," stated Eponin.

"Protect the Queen at all costs," commanded the Captain to the guards.

Suddenly there was a ring of swords being drawn in the forest ahead. "Attack!" yelled a man and suddenly numerous warriors flooded through the forest, heading straight for the fifteen or so guards.

Ephiny's eyes widened. "On no…" she uttered in her horror at seeing all the men.

Eponin gritted her teeth and yelled, "Protect the Queen."

"Protect the Queen!" called out Palamon again.

The guards all raced ahead and crashed into all the warriors, fighting them.

The Amazons kept close to their Queen and killed any of the enemies that broke through the lines.

Palamon himself too stayed beside the Queen, protecting her and knowing it was his life if she died.

The Queen for her part watched in horror as the Conqueror's guards were slaughter one after another.

"Attack!" ordered the same voice but from behind the line of guards.

The Amazons turned in their saddles in time to see another wave of warriors come crashing into them from behind.

"No!" screamed out Ephiny, and she became frantic to protect Gabrielle.

The Amazon Queen was too shock to respond. It was a mass massacre before her eyes and no hopes of survival.

~*To Be Continued in Section Two*~

back to mini-series 1