Disclaimer: Gabrielle is mine. She is, just ask Johanna!
Well alright, so she's not, and that is just the height of unfairness if you ask me. RenPics and all those other folks, can they honestly say they love her like we fans do? Ah well, one day I WILL find the location of Alti's clone laboratory, and then… Finally there could really be a Gabrielle for everyone! Oh, OK, Xena too if you're of a mind.
Subtext: Nope, it's all maintext and of the homosexual variety. Come on, would _I_ write anything else? I wouldn't know how to.
A thing to mention, though, this is supposed to be the sequel to my story "Shopping with the Conqueror", and you should read that first. Really, you should. Not because of the story, oh no, but because your home will be invaded by little banshee spirits that devour all your chocolate if you don't. Honest.
Like "Shopping with the Conqueror" this is a Conqueror parody thing, nothing serious in here, sorry, but there is a mild share of violence (well, Xena can't even go to the outhouse in the TV-series without a touch of violence, so who's surprised?), and also some mild references to sex. Nothing graphic or shocking I'm sure.
Any feedback is of course greatly welcome, at firstname.lastname@example.org
A tip of the hat, if I had one, to Jo-chan whom I've forced to beta-read my other Conqueror story for me (the pain, the suffering! ^_^), and also to everyone that has been encouraging me to write. Thank you.
Well start reading already, what are you waiting for? Sheesh.
Relationships and the Conqueror
by Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
Greetings all, and welcome to my humble corner of the world. Oh… back again are you? Then I gather you wish to hear more tales of the illustrious woman known as the Conqueror of the Known World?
Ah. Let me think. Oh yes, I think I may have a story for you then…
Xena the Conqueror. She was known by many other names as well, as most are aware of, and besides her rather mysterious conquering of the world - mysterious in that few seems to remember exactly _how_ she came to conquer Greece, much less the world, she just seemed to be there one day, ruling all she surveyed - she did many a grand thing in her life.
She, after all, had many skills.
One skill she was particularly proud of was her skill as an inventor. Indeed, Xena invented many an intriguing thing, so intriguing in fact that they left most people quite ignorant of just what the object in question was intended for. In time an entire wing of the Realm's greatest scholars gathered in Corinth with the sole objective of finding the enigmatic purposes for Lord Xena's great inventions, and it is said that most of them dedicated their entire lives to this enlightening goal.
It is not advisable, however, to mention the fact that she invented the ear- and nosehair trimmer, as unfortunate things accidentally happened to the last man to ask the Conqueror why she would feel the need to invent such a thing. That man was, incidentally, also the first to pose that question to Lord Xena.
Many of Lord Xena's great achievements have not been remembered by her people. Such as her valiant quest to destroy broccoli everywhere she found it. She outlawed the use of broccoli, and especially feeding broccoli to the very young invoked a harsh punishment, since Xena wisely reasoned that broccoli was a cruel instrument that causes deep psychological scarring in a child's psyche, and must therefore be stopped. Her long and diligent battle seemed quite successful for quite some time, despite the occasional devious attack by the wicked broccoli against her beloved puppies, but the Broccoli Resistance Movement then went into hiding, never giving Xena slightest trace by which to hunt down their vile vegetable selves.
Of course, even Xena herself admitted that they were worthy opponents, since no captured broccoli would ever talk, even under the most severe torture involving hot water and melted cheese.
Among the many misconceptions about the Lord Conqueror and her deeds, the one most commonly mentioned is her eradication of the Amazons.
The Conqueror, however, had nothing against the amazons, in fact she very much liked amazons. It was an most unfortunate accident that whenever Xena would enter an amazon village, all the amazons of marital age (and quite a few that were not) would immediately begin challenging each other to duels to the death. In truth the Conqueror much admired the generosity and hospitality of the various amazon tribes, since she was always offered more places to sleep, more mugs of drink, and more delicious foods to eat than she could possibly have needed. She even aspired to join the Nations at one time, but for some reason no amazon Queen would ever appear to hear her suggestions in that matter.
Instead they would all sign long treaties of their defeat, gather up their surviving children and elders, and travel to the far north in order to live quiet, peaceful and most importantly chaste lives meditating.
Surely the Conqueror could not help that she was so accident prone?
Also a misconception is the rumor that she would have been imbued with godlike powers while conquering the land of Chin. Firstly, Lord Xena had travelled to Chin for her vacation, and was peacefully making drawings of the great wall (inventing cubism in the process) when the Empress of the Lao clan noticed her. The events that followed, the decimating of the Lao and Tsu armies, the destruction of the Lao castle, and various casualties on both Lao and Tsu sides, were merely the unfortunate results as the very shy and terrified Xena fled the attentions of the Lao Empress.
And as for the mystical powers ascribed to the Conqueror during her stay in Chin, it was simply so that Lord Xena had a delicate stomach that did not agree with the diet of Eastern cuisine. The explosive gas eruptions did not cease until Xena was back on her native soil, and by then a formal letter of capitulation from the united clans of Chin was delivered to her hand.
The island nation of Japa followed soon after, since hordes of their young maidens upon hearing of Xena's exploits and seeing her image on scrolls and coins, ran screaming into the night. Screaming "Xena-sama, aishiteru wa!" and then, as their impressionable young selves completely forgot such an irrelevant fact like that Japa is an island nation,
to a woman drowned themselves in their pursuit of the boat Xena was said to travel from Chin in.
Needless to say, the Conqueror was much surprised to find herself the ruler of an island empire that she had never even heard of, much less seen.
Another thing that people usually hear false recollections of is the stories about Xena's travels to the Norse lands. The young Xena did in no way abuse the Rhinemaidens, nor attempt to steal any object from them, much less their prized gold, but rather she was assaulted by the amorous girls while out swimming one day. As she desperately tried to escape the Rhinemaidens and their affections, which mainly consisted of throwing items at Xena (such as underwear, gold trinkets and colorful bass for example) and viciously fighting one another, the Rhinegold found it's way into Xena's pocket without her knowing. It was probably frightened of the ferocious Rhinemaidens itself, and as soon as Xena discovered it in her pocket, she threw it overboard into the Aegean sea. Reliable eye-witnesses have stated that since that day, the Rhinemaidens are known to sit in their pool and sulk, occasionally bapping each other in the head with a trout and bemoaning the one that got away.
Xena's fallout with Odin and the Valkyries is also a matter that is rarely related correctly. As we all know, Lord Xena was ever very fond of puppies, and they of her, and as it now happened, Valhalla had a plethora of lively puppies that Xena used to kick around and play with. Valhalla also had a plethora of young lively Valkyries that all liked to play with the puppies when Xena was around, and during one such evening when Odin was taking a meal, his entire squadron of Valkyries were rolling around on the floor with the puppies, and, of course, Xena. The fun and games got a slight bit out of hand, and during the melee a Valkyrie accidentally slammed into the table in front of Odin, making his dish jump and his hand slam against his head, poking out one of his eyes. A most unfortunate accident that surely Lord Xena could not be held accountable for by any rights, yet Odin blamed Xena, and she left the Norse lands to return to Greece.
Yes indeed, the Lord Conqueror never had an easy time where women were concerned.
In any account of Xena's life, there must surely be mention of the village of Cirra. As most of you surely have heard, Cirra was a farming village of scarce profit and no hostile intent that got burned to the ground in Xena's younger days, thus killing everyone in it but one, tortured young girl. This is the story all the bards tell. It is also wrong.
Xena's visit in Cirra was quite circumstantial, in fact she was going home to see her infamous mother, Cyrene, but needed to stop and buy some gifts to bring. Cyrene would otherwise claim that her wayward daughter did not love her nor appreciate all the effort and hard work it had been giving birth to Xena and then raise her, and, well, not even the Conqueror enjoyed listening to her mother's expert and well practised guilt trips. So Xena was looking for something to buy, when she was cornered by a busty barmaid and her younger and oh-so dirty sister.
The child in question, carrying an equally dirty little doll, was unnerving Xena as she kept staring at Xena's legs the whole time her elder sister tried to cajole the Conqueror into sharing a room with her for the night. Xena politely declined, and spent the night in the barn with her trusty horse - who only kicked her in the head once that night, and only barely nipped her legs a few times, hardly even breaking the skin - fully intent on merely getting some rest before leaving next morning. The child, however, followed Xena into the barn and stole her flint, spending most of the night trying to make a fire in the loft. Once she finally succeeded she ran outside gleefully giggling, stopping only to ogle Xena some more and bite her horse before sneaking back into her own room.
The barn burned to the ground, but Xena and the horse got out unharmed, and no-one else were in danger from the fire. The little girl, however, let out a devastated howl as she realised that she had forgotten her beloved doll in the flames, and swore on the little dolly grave she made in the ashes of the barn that she would take her revenge on Xena one day. For years following that event, whenever Xena turned around it would seem that the girl, Callisto, was there. In fact, Xena grew very fond of her young friend, and considered Callisto as close to a buddy as the Conqueror could have, going so far as to offer Callisto the place as her second-in-command in Corinth. She especially loved the way Callisto would surprise her at all hours to test her reflexes and spar for a while, as Callisto pretended to be an assassin or something similar, it was all great fun. She also liked the little impromptu training sessions that Callisto arranged, pretend ambushes and attacks, to help Xena keep on her toes. Sure, she knew her young friend wasn't completely sane, but what is a bit of talking to oneself or a few insane ideas or maniacal laughter between friends?
Well, the Conqueror had, without at all meaning to, managed to acquire an attractive and very active body slave in the marketplace, although all she had been searching for was a scribe, and suddenly found herself floundering in her very first physical and emotional relationship to another woman. Or just another, period.
So she looked up her trusty old friend for a bit of advice.
"Calli!" Xena was relieved just to see the bleached blonde as she kicked a puppy in passing.
"I really need to talk to you. Have you got a moment?"
The blonde glared at her and viciously backhanded the man she had been speaking to, crushing his nose and sending him unconscious to the ground. "Die."
"Well, I've met this girl…" Xena began embarrassed, neither of them noticing the man bleeding badly on the ground behind them.
"Murder" Callisto replied, cocking her head slightly to the side.
"I didn't mean to, but then she was just there and wouldn't let go or anything and…" Xena scuffed her boot on the ground, looking abashed.
"Mayhem?" Callisto inquired, absently tossing a rock at a small singing bird not far from them.
"Oh, I guess you've heard about her, huh?" Xena shyly ducked her head, causing the dagger Callisto threw to fly right over her head and embed itself into a tree. Callisto frowned and muttered under her breath.
"She's so…" Xena spoke with amazement, "…and so…" she said with adoration, "…and SO!…" she finished, doing a slight eyebrow-twitch thing and a deep blush.
"Death? Incarceration, hanging, beheading?" Callisto asked while leaning over to stare down the front of Xena's battledress.
"Umm, yeah, we did…" Xena was blushing badly now and digging little holes in the dirt with her boots.
"Strangulation!" Callisto gasped in shock, staggering for a moment and lifting her gaze to look Xena in the eye.
"Yeah…" Shy Xena admitted slowly while drawing little figures in the piles of dirt she'd dug up.
"I really like her Calli."
"…" Callisto looked stricken. "Dismemberment. Decapacitation. Flogging." She managed weakly after a moment.
"You really think it could work?" Xena said, looking hopeful.
"…drowning." Callisto croaked, hands twitching.
"Oh Calli, you're the best!" Xena cried happily, deftly avoiding the second dagger that Callisto stabbed at her heart with, and pulled the blonde to her in a swift bearhug. "I knew I could talk to you!"
Behind them the man gurgled slightly and then moaned.
"Oh!" Xena drew back and looked at Callisto. "Do you think I should talk to Alti?"
"Crucifixion. Arson." Callisto said, clearly still shaken, and no longer holding her dagger since Xena absentmindedly had taken it from her. "Water torture?"
"You're right. Thanks Callisto!" Somewhere a horse screamed. "I'll see you later, then. Bye!"
And Xena raced off.
"…poisoning." Callisto said weakly to Xena's back. The man on the ground moaned again. Callisto kicked him and muttered something under her breath, then she went in search of some more weapons, and someone to bite.
For all her good intentions, the Conqueror was waylaid when entering the palace again after her conversation with Callisto. Her young slave scolded her for going off on her own, then dragged her supposed owner and the ruler of the world with her back to the bedchamber, and showed no signs of intending to let Xena go anytime soon. It would take another handful of days before Xena managed to hobble her way to the dank cave built on the castle back yard for the mysterious woman known as Alti.
Alti had a style uniquely her own. She had gone to great lengths to get an artificial cave erected on the well-trimmed lawn, and spent many hours constructing it so that it would be perpetually dark, dank and cold, even in the midst of a hot summer. Then there was the question of Alti's clothing. The woman, although in truth rather tall and not so old, walked hunched over with her face scrunched up, painted with ash and blood in such a fashion one might suspect that the carnival jesters had something to do with Alti's makeup, and she wore only animal skins. Animal skins that had not been prepared in any way, just hung over one another until she was suitably covered and then left to rot, which explained the rather severe stench that accompanied the woman everywhere.
When all that was finished, Alti put up a big sign in front of her cave that said "Alti's Fashion Design and Interior Decorating Haven - knock on the skull to the left before entering. Open at all hours."
Xena knocked politely before entering, Gabrielle firmly attached to her side, and was surprised to see that the only person known to frequent Alti's as a customer was already there.
"Callisto?" A horse screamed outside. "Are you bleaching your hair again? Aren't you afraid it will all fall out?"
Callisto growled and tore off the metallic wrapping around her hair, chucking it into the corner in an attempt at being discreet. "Massacre." She corrected her leather bustier and levelled a good hard stare at Xena.
"Ah, Xena! Come in child, come in." Alti's gravely voice would have been perfectly in place coming from an ancient mummy, and would make people idly speculate if maybe a crow had flown down her throat and died there to cause that sound. "Have a seat, I'm almost done here."
One seat was all that was needed, as Gabrielle was still stuck to Xena's side so tightly she almost melded with the leather outfit Xena wore. Xena on the other hand wished Gabrielle had not decided that the pretty and proper dress that Xena got for her to wear today was too concealing, which led to Gabrielle decimating the dress into two brief pieces of cloth that showed far too much of everything, especially that bouncing bosom that had a surprising tendency to always be wriggling about in front of Xena's face. Embarrassed, Xena just compensated for the extra weight along one side, and turned to make smalltalk with Callisto.
Callisto glared at Gabrielle. Gabrielle glared at Callisto.
"Mutilation!" Callisto exclaimed and bared her teeth. Gabrielle loosened her grip on Xena's side with a small sucking noise as air was allowed to enter the vacuum between their bodies.
"Xena! Who is that woman?!" Gabrielle demanded angrily while giving Xena the look of Death, or at least the look of you're-in-the-doghouse-now, and giving her bosom an indignant bounce in front of Xena's face.
"Disembowelment." Callisto sneered, and then growled.
"Oh yeah? We'll just see about that!" Gabrielle hissed, and threw herself at Callisto. Within moments the two were fighting viciously, pulling hair (Callisto's did come off in big handfulls), biting, and general catfighting and clawing at each other's eyes.
Xena smiled happily and turned to Alti. "See, I knew they'd like one another… They're making friends already!"
Alti remained uninterested, and merely stirred the ingredients in her big black cauldron. "Hmmm… some eye of newt, a jar of blood from a Yak, a pinch of mandrake, a spleen from a white toad… I wonder if that was it?" She muttered to herself and leafed through a dusty old tome on one of the cluttered benches near the fireplace.
"See Alti, I'm kind of…" Xena began shyly, but raised her voice when the din from the brawling women threatened to drown any attempt at conversation. "…it's like I…" She sighed and adopted a curiously yearning look. "…I never felt…"
"Salamander eggs! Of course! How could I forget those?" Alti exclaimed, and stirred some more ingredients into her cauldron.
"So… should I? Maybe?" Xena chewed on a fingernail. "…what if she…" She sighed deeply.
"There, all done! Grab those plates, will you?" Alti gestured with the smoking spoon at Xena. Then she eyed the combatants with a disapproving expression.
"Alright, I want both of you girls sitting at the table on the double, don't make me break my spoon on your backsides now, hear?" Considering that her spoon was made from reinforced steel to survive her concoctions this was no idle threat, and so Callisto and Gabrielle both dived for their seats, glaring murderously at one another.
Alti sniffed at a bowl she picked up from where Callisto had been sitting. "Hmm… leftovers from the bleach." She appeared to be thinking for a moment. "Ah well." She poured the contents of the bowl into the cauldron as well. She stirred for a moment before grabbing the plates and ladling some of her brew into them and putting them in front of her guests.
"Now eat up, children! Or there'll be no dessert for you!"
"Xena!" Gabrielle was glued to Xena's side again, this time pushing the Conqueror's face firmly into her bountiful cleavage. "You simply cannot get enough of me! Are you planning on taking me right here, in front of these people?"
"MmmmMMmffft!" Xena said.
"What was that, Xena? Oh, you're asking me to marry you! Why yes, of course my darling!" Gabrielle squealed theatrically and bounced some for good measure.
"HmmMFft? MMMFFHTTT! FFFMMMTT!!" Xena exclaimed, her arms flaying about in desperation.
"Oh yes darling, yes, yes!" Gabrielle deftly caught Xena's arms and disposed them where she preferred them at the moment, then kicked them both off from the table until they crashed on the floor.
Alti considered her cauldron again, as Callisto stared at the couple on the floor in horror.
A ripping sound could be heard, and then a faint "…oh my…" from Xena.
Then the furniture in the cave started rocking slightly.
Alti looked at Xena and Gabrielle, shrugged, and picked up one of the plates and sniffed the contents. She adopted a thoughtful look. Callisto looked like she was going to faint.
The rocking increased, as did the noise, until the entire construction was shaking and objects from the ceiling and shelves came tumbling down. Callisto finally snapped, and ran screaming at the top of her lungs out the door, scaring a few horses in the castle so badly they were later found hiding in the chicken coup.
Alti tasted her concoction. "Hmm. Needs a bit of salt."
"What do you think, Borias?" The polished white skull hanging on the wall next to the stove merely grinned in silent communication. "Yes, that's what I thought." Alti said, and stirred the contents of her cauldron some more.
What was that you said? The wedding? Oh that is a whole other story, of course, which I cannot go into tonight. Now now, no complaining, these are the rules of storytelling, you know?
…although, I could of course hint at the fact that Gabrielle's penchant for nudity threatened to drive the seamstresses of Corinth insane, as their suggestions for wedding dresses all got shredded to little more than brief, gauzy strips of cloth.
Or how Xena, Conqueror and Ruler of the Known world was so nervous that she fainted not once but thrice during the wedding ceremony. Or how the guests all came down with a bad case of food poisoning due to the fact that Alti had helped with the catering.
And of course then there's the fact that Callisto ran off and in her deep depression is said to have joined the Broccoli Resistance Movement.
…I could of course mention that some time after the eventful marriage took place, the night came when Lord Xena was finally feeling that married life was not so bad and not nearly as scary as she had thought. It was, naturally, that very same moment that Gabrielle chose to roll over, look Xena in the eye and say those dreaded, fateful words…
"Xena, I want a baby."
Then there's always the time when… but no, I'm afraid my time is up.
Thank you for listening, and remember to feed the starving bards on your way out.