Idylls of the Conqueror

Chapter 6

Hercules woke up in the morning with his back itching ferociously; it meant that it was beginning to heal with his usual rapidity, but it wasn't comfortable.  Before eating a quick meal and heading out to his work, he went to the infirmary in search of some kind of salve that would keep the cuts from drying out even more and cracking open again.  He ran into Gabrielle on the way, and she offered to help.  Hercules felt acutely self-conscious, remembering the night before, but Gabrielle's serene demeanor was unchanged.  She applied salve to his back gently and efficiently, then returned to her other duties.

Hercules spent the morning chopping and stacking firewood for the castle.  The chain dangling between his wrists made the job extremely awkward, and he could feel various muscles getting sore from the effort of trying to swing the ax without hitting himself with the chain.  And he was troubled by his experiences the night before--by Xena's treatment of her slaves and by his own undeniable reactions to that treatment.

Suddenly he stopped in mid-swing, feeling the unmistakable mental twitch of sensing one of his divine family members nearby.  He turned around to see Ares watching, his arms folded across his chest, and a wide grin leering from his face.  "It's good to see you settling into your new lifestyle, brother," he mocked.

"This isn't over yet, Ares!" snapped Hercules, his voice hard.

"In your dreams," laughed the god.  "You're just a body to her, a piece of particularly well-prepared meat.  And she's content in this time in a way she never was before--no conflict, no internal struggles.  I don't know why I never thought of this before.  If you really think she's going to listen to your stories about another time, you're deluding yourself."

Hercules glanced around.  Xena and Callisto had ridden out that morning, and no one else was around.  With a primal roar he flung the ax at the god, striking him in the chest.  Ares looked vaguely surprised at the ax blade buried in his chest, then pulled it out and threw it back with a roar of his own.  Prepared for this move, Hercules sidestepped and caught the ax by the handle, tossing it aside.

Ares charged him, but Hercules clasped his hands together and swung out, catching the god in the stomach.  Ares staggered backward, but charged again, grabbing the chain and yanking Hercules forward, then giving him a solid knee to the groin.  Hercules took in his breath sharply and gasped, "you must be worried that Xena will listen to me, or you wouldn't be here trying to convince me otherwise."  He punched Ares in the jaw with a sharp jab, causing the god to let go of the chain.

Ares kicked Hercules in the stomach, sending him flying backward.  The hard landing on his back opened several of the gashes, and as he jumped to his feet, he could feel the shock of air, and grass, and sweat stinging the wounds.  "Wrong again, brother," taunted Ares.  "I just hate to see you wasting your time and energy in a lost cause."

"Your concern is touching," muttered the demigod, biting off his words sharply.

"You should work on some acceptance issues," said Ares with mock sincerity.  "You could do worse than to be the Conqueror's favorite pet."

"What's the matter?" asked Hercules calmly.  "Jealous?"

Ares' face twisted in a brief spasm of rage, and the fight resumed, with Hercules silently cursing the chain that limited his movements.  He managed to grab the front of Ares' leather vest, however, and haul him forward, kicking his feet out from under him.  He straddled the god, bringing his wrists together, and swung the chain in a vigorous swipe across Ares' face.  "Gotcha, didn't I?" said Hercules with a lethal smile.

Ares roared and shoved the demigod off him, rolling up to his feet and taking Hercules down with a jab to the solar plexus.  "What you haven't figured out, brother," sneered the god, "is that I win either way.  If I lose Xena to the original timeline, you lose her too, and I know that however much you want your golden boy back, you're gonna miss what you have here."  Ares' eyes were bright with triumph, and a predatory grin slashed his face.  "And you'll spend the rest of your life knowing how much of a slave you are and . . . " Ares vanished, with his voice trailing off, "knowing that I know it too."

Hercules sagged momentarily, staggered by the truth of Ares' jeering words.  But he took a deep breath and forced himself to return to his work, all the while shaking inside.  There was nothing he could do about what he was discovering in himself, and there was nothing to do about Ares' knowledge of it.  It would just be another weapon against him in the god's arsenal, but Hercules wasn't without his own collection of Ares' weaknesses.  The never-ending contest would just have another layer of bitterness added to it.  His only consolation was that if he did succeed in restoring the original timeline, Ares would probably be too humiliated by his defeat to blurt out embarrassing facts about Hercules to Iolaus and Xena.

He spent the rest of the day in a haze of self-pity, doing his work automatically, while cursing the fact that he would never be let alone, never be able simply to live his life without worrying about his loved ones or himself being targeted.  Then he thought of Iolaus moaning under his hands and mouth, his blue eyes brilliant with desire.  Hercules fell to his knees, his face in his hands, awash in memories of his life with the blond hunter.  There were plenty of rough edges where they rubbed against each other, sometimes irritatingly, sometimes painfully, but where they did fit, they fit so well.  Waking up next to Iolaus gave Hercules a peace that he hadn't felt since he lost his family, but at the same time, Iolaus inspired in him a consuming lust linked with a desire to possess that he had never felt with anyone else.  And Iolaus gave himself--freely, willingly, completely, with a fierceness and strength that let Hercules know that Iolaus was going after what he wanted just as ruthlessly as Hercules was.  And that knowledge freed the demigod to love Iolaus with a driving passion, claiming the hunter ever more surely as his.

He got up with a sigh, preparing a load of firewood to bring into the castle, unaware that he had been watched by two women on horseback, one dark and one blonde.  "There's more to him than meets the eye," mused Xena to Callisto, "although what meets the eye is certainly enticing.  I can't help wondering what it is that he left behind."

* * *

While Hercules was distributing firewood inside the castle, Gabrielle came running up to him.  "She wants you tonight after dinner; she's having a dinner meeting with Callisto and some of the others.  You're to wait like last night."

Hercules nodded.  "Thank you, Gabrielle.  I'll be there."

When he was done with his chores and had eaten supper, he cleaned himself up, not happy about the twinges and stinging across his back.  He would have felt a lot better if he hadn't been fighting with Ares, and he gritted his teeth in a momentary spasm of fury.  He reflected that this was probably not the best mood in which to greet his Mistress, remembering his sister's pithy advice to "lose the 'tude, dude."  But he was both depressed and angry and didn't know if he could hide it.

His body strung tight with tension, he took himself to his appointed place outside the Conqueror's chambers.  After about ten minutes, he saw her approaching down the corridor.  Just watching her walk, he felt the aura of the magnetism she emanated, and his earlier mood thawed into an irresistible drive to please and serve.  "Slave boy," she said matter-of-factly, then simply jerked her head toward her door, indicating that he was to follow her.

There was a bath filled with steaming water waiting in the main room.  Xena turned to look at Hercules and asked, "So how are you at washing a woman's hair?"

"Pretty good, I think," he answered with a shrug and slightly raised eyebrows, thinking of the time when he'd been called to wash a shattered and bruised Xena's hair after her ordeal with Callisto.  And Deianera had loved for him to wash her hair.

"Good," she said.  "Help me remove my armor."

"As you wish," he said quietly and unbuckled her armor, removing it, and sliding the bracers off her arms as she held them out to him.  She sat down, indicating her boots, and he knelt in front of her, pulling them off.

She stood up and took off the rest of her clothes and said, "Go get that tray."  The tray held soap, a sponge, and some vials of fragrant oil.  He brought it over to the tub and shook a few drops from one of the vials into the water.  "Very good," she said as she stepped into the tub.  "On your knees, slave boy.  I'll let you know when I need your help."  Hercules kneeled by the side of the tub watching the Conqueror as she languorously soaped herself, drawing the sponge along the length of first one, then another bronzed, muscled leg, then along her arms.  As the sponge in her hand swept in circles around her breasts, he felt his neglected cock beginning to stir.  His eyes were riveted by her glistening skin, the taut curve of her neck, the slope of her breasts, and the alert nipples responding to the touch of the sponge and the difference in temperature between the water and the air.

Xena suddenly tossed the sponge back over her shoulder, saying, "Think fast, slave boy!"  Hercules reached out and caught it, reacting even before the words were spoken.  "Wash my back," she ordered, leaning forward to give him access.

"Yes, my lady," he answered, wrapping a loop of the chain around one arm so it wouldn't swing against her and complying quite willingly, sliding the sponge across the hard planes of her back.  His fingers just ached to reach around and cup a slippery breast, and he figured she knew it, but he obeyed her scrupulously, not venturing with even a finger outside the selected territory.

She sighed in relaxation, then said, "Now my hair."

Hercules rubbed the soap between his hands, working up a lather, then began rubbing the soap into Xena's hair.  His fingers massaged her scalp with exquisitely controlled pressure, and she exhaled slowly, saying lightly, "When Callisto brought you in, I knew you were special, but I didn't imagine you'd be useful in so many ways.  I can't wait to find out what else you're good at."

Hercules flushed, but continued working his fingers through her long hair, feeling it slide like wet silk between his fingers.  There was a pitcher near the tub, and he filled it, carefully rinsing Xena's hair, entranced by its sleek fall away from her forehead as she tilted her head back.  "Towel," she said as she stood up gracefully, rivulets of water glittering as they flowed down her body.  He wrapped a large towel around her, then used another to soak up water from her hair.  She sat down on a chair, still wrapped in her towel and told him where to find a comb.  Hercules combed Xena's hair dexterously, then brought her her robe as ordered and helped her into it.  She turned to him, tracing the shape of his lips with one finger.

Xena draped herself in a large armchair, letting her robe fall open.  "You have a lovely mouth, slave boy," she remarked; "come here and show me if you're as skilled at giving pleasure as you look."

Hercules raised his eyebrows slightly and moved to kneel before her chair, his mouth quirking in a half-smile.  Feeling reckless, he asked, "Would my lady like it quick, or should I draw it out?"

Xena grabbed a handful of long honey-colored hair, yanking hard, but the slight twitch of her mouth showed her amusement.  "Draw it out, slave boy.  In fact, I don't want to come until I tell you I'm ready.  And keep your hands to yourself."

"As you wish," answered Hercules quietly.  This was something he was both good at and loved to do, and he had no doubt about his abilities to read her signals and hold her off until she was ready.  And he had an advantage she didn't know about--experience, however brief, of pleasuring Xena's body before.  Remembering how Gabrielle had started, he kissed her lightly at the very point of the upside-down triangle of her dark curls.  He then parted the already-moist lips with his tongue, tracing a path along her center with a featherlight stroke.  His strenuous tongue danced over her contours and along her folds, probing, licking, stroking, teasing, and swirling.  Sometimes he toyed with the entrance to her body with the tip of his tongue or used it to tightly circle her clit.  He would steadily increase the pressure of his strokes, as Xena's breathing grew more rapid, and her grip tightened in his hair.  Then he would back off, exploring her with the lightest of touches as her breathing reluctantly slowed.

He pushed inside her with his tongue, fucking her with voluptuous deliberation, probing the slick passage, using his strength and skill to keep raising the level of her arousal without taking her over the top.  Then he drew long ovals with his tongue up from her entrance and around her clit and back down, while her breathing grew increasingly ragged.   Hercules wondered if he could push the Conqueror to demand to come, and he closed his lips around her swollen clit, flicking it with his tongue.  "Now, slave boy!  Now!" she growled roughly, and Hercules smiled to himself, lapping at her clit with vigorous broad strokes that brought her shuddering to her peak and over it into waves of convulsive climax.

She released her grip on his hair as her breathing slowed, and he sat back on his heels, tossed his hair back, and looked steadily into her eyes.  "I'm impressed," she said coolly, and he marvelled at how quickly she mastered herself.  "You're looking pretty pleased with yourself," she continued, "and don't think I don't know what you were doing there, boy.  I wouldn't want you to forget your status, and that's why I will go to bed satisfied tonight, and you will not.  Understand?"

"Understood, my lady," he answered, his eyes shining with the knowledge of having pleased her.  His cock was demanding attention, but his own satisfaction really didn't seem that important at the moment.

Xena pulled him toward her by his hair, thrusting her tongue roughly into his mouth to taste herself there and kissing him roughly.  Then she released him and said "You're dismissed, slave boy.  Perhaps I'll have more use for you tomorrow."

He bent over to kiss her hand and murmured, "Thank you for letting me serve you, my lady," then got up and walked out of the room, about as uncomfortably as he had the night before.

* * *

This time Xena summoned Hercules herself, after a day spent conferring with Callisto and efficiently and briskly directing groups of men who were moving weapons and supplies.  She watched him work for a while, her lips involuntarily quirking into a smile as she admired the play of muscles under his sweat-sheened skin.  She observed the way he compensated for the annoying presence of the chain between his wrists, the way his biceps bulged as he lifted the heavy boulders he was using to repair her fortifications, and the way he tossed his long honey-colored hair off of his face.

Finally she approached him, saying peremptorily, "Slave boy!  I have use for you tonight.  Get yourself cleaned up and come to my chambers."

"As you wish," he answered, with a slight bow of his head.

Newly bathed, he took himself to the doors of her apartments.  The guards outside let him in with a knowing wink.  She was at a table, looking at some parchment documents, and wearing the black silk robe she'd worn before.  "Down," she said, pointing to the floor.  He knelt near her feet, silently, and waited, his head bowed and his hair falling forward around his face.  She licked her lips and went back to her work, until there was a knock at the door.  "That'll be my dinner," she said.  "Go get it and bring it inside.  Set it up here."  She cleared the documents off the table, while he went to the door.

Hercules accepted a tray with covered dishes and a carafe of wine.  He carefully set the table for her, moving as smoothly as possible to prevent the chain from clanking against things.  "Very nice," she said.  "Now, down."

"Yes, my lady," he answered and knelt again near her feet.  She began eating, then offered him a piece of food.  He flushed for a moment in anger, but opened his mouth and took it.

She laughed.  "I knew some indignity would get to you, slave boy.  Well, too bad.  I like feeding you, and I like seeing you on your knees."

"As you wish, my lady," he answered, not very effectively concealing the edge to his voice.

She laughed again and offered him a sip of wine from her cup, and the meal continued, with the Conqueror feeding Hercules from her hand, treating him as nothing so much as a prized pet.  His jaw and the cords of his neck tightened in anger and humiliation, but he had resolved to earn her trust, and if she wanted to feed him like a pet, then he would submit to it.  When she finished her dinner, she said, "Take the tray outside.  Someone will clear it up.  Leave the wine."  He carefully replaced the used dishes on the tray and took it to the guards outside.

"Now come here," she ordered, "and bring the wine."  He carried the carafe and the goblet to the bedroom where she beckoned him.

"Now strip."

"As you wish."  Hercules nodded questioningly toward a low stool, and she gave him an answering nod in permission with a brief flick of her hand.  He sat down and began to take off his boots.  She poured herself a glass of wine and sat down on the bed to watch.  He stood up and let his belt fall to the floor.  She raised her eyebrows slightly and nodded at him to continue.  Her scrutiny made him uncomfortable, but he found it enticing as well.  He knew others admired his body, but he had never given it much thought.  Now, being treated as a desired object, he was pleased at the impression he made. He unfastened his leather pants and pulled everything off, standing before her naked.

She looked him up and down appraisingly, as a smile began to spread across her mouth.

She pushed herself back on the bed,  so that she was leaning on a pillow that rested against the iron bars at the head of the bedframe and patted the bed in front of her.  "Come here.  Sit facing away from me.  And lean forward a little."  He obeyed, and she began lightly tracing the cuts in his back with her fingertips and lightly stroking the muscles which stood out.  "What a magnificent plaything you are," she remarked.  "If the gods designed you as a pleasure toy, they couldn't have done a better job."

Her voice was like dark honey laced with spice, and it insinuated itself around all his nerves, while her fingers played across his back.  "I want you to answer my questions," she said in a harder voice.

"As you wish, my lady," the demigod answered.

"Why did you take that whipping for the girl?  I hope you realize that what I was punishing you for was your presumption in intervening.  I knew right away that the accident wasn't your fault."

"I figured that, but I wanted to spare her punishment, my lady.  I thought  I was more capable of enduring a whipping than she was."

"I see.  And if you figured I saw through your ruse, what made you think I would go along with it?"

"I hoped the prospect of seeing me whipped would prove entertaining enough that you would spare her," answered Hercules very quietly.

"And so it was," the warlord remarked, drawing her finger with slightly harder pressure along each cut.  "Was it so for you?"

"If you're asking if that kind of pain excites me, my lady, no it doesn't.  But I will admit to wanting to make an impression on you, to please you."

"And so you did.  How about this?  Would this excite you?"  He heard her reach for a knife, pull it out of its sheath, and then he felt her drawing it lightly over his back.  She didn't break the skin, but merely skimmed the surface with the blade pressing just enough for him to feel it.  The knife would leave faint lines, but not draw blood at that rate.  "Does this excite you?" she demanded.

"It would be obvious to you that I was lying if I said it didn't, my lady," said Hercules, ruefully regarding his stirring cock.

She laughed.  "And what if I decided to hurt you with this?"  She pressed the point slightly into his shoulder blade.  "What if I wanted to watch your blood oozing out of your skin?  Would you try to stop me?"

"No, my lady."

"Why not?"

"I want to please you."  His voice trembled slightly.

"That's hard for you, isn't it?" Xena purred, continuing to play with him, now drawing circles and spirals with the very point of the knife.

"Yes and no," he answered.  "Obeying anyone does not come easy for me, but I can't help wanting to serve you, to . . . submit to you."

"I've noticed.  It's one of the things I like about you, slave boy.  You do it even though it's hard for you.  It's been a long time since I've bothered summoning a man to my bed.  Frankly, I prefer that little slave girl you protected so nobly.  But there's something very tempting about you."  She tossed the knife aside carelessly, got up and ordered, "Lie down with your hands above your head."

He complied, and she wrapped the chain around his wrists, pulling them together, then reached for a lock on the table next to the bed and locked the chain to the lowest of the iron bars of the frame.  His arms were stretched above his head, and his erection was impossible to conceal.  "Oh, that's lovely, that really is," she murmured.  "Chains become you, slave boy.  What is it about you?"  She raked her nails down the the underside of his arm, from his elbows to his armpits, leaving faint red lines.  "I just look at you, and I want to abuse you," she continued.  "And you're splendid, undeniably, but it's not just your looks that draw me."

"You flatter me, my lady," he remarked, smiling up at her, while thinking to himself, Perhaps you sense that I love you, love you even though you tried to murder me and you betrayed my best friend, love you despite your crimes and your dark soul.  I ache with love for you--did I fall when I held a sword to your throat, and you offered it to me, expecting me to kill you?  Or did I fall later when you changed?  Ah, it's not you anyway, or is it?

She smiled.  "May-be," she drawled, tracing a finger down the line of his jaw, "it's because those blue eyes of yours seem to beg for it whenever you look at me."

Admit it, Herc, he thought to himself, it's this one you want to be with right now.  It's this Xena who makes you want to submit and serve.  He gazed up at her, eyes glowing with desire, and said, "Is it so obvious that I need you to use me?"

"It's so obvious, slave boy, and use you I will--for my pleasure.  Whether you will be allowed satisfaction will depend on how well you please me."

"As you wish.  But I have a name, my lady."

"No doubt.  And what is it?"

"Hercules.  Would you please indulge me by letting me hear you say it?"

"It can't hurt," said the warlord casually, as she drew her hands along his upper arms, revelling in the feel of the slightly straining muscles.  Then in a much gentler tone than he'd heard her use yet, she said, "Hercules.  Hercules. My Hercules."

He closed his eyes, and an identical voice from his memory came to his inner ear, saying, "Is this what it feels like to be you, Hercules?"

"So, Hercules?" she asked.  "Why haven't you broken that chain?  I know you can."  Her hands still molded his upper arms, sometimes travelling to his chest.

"Yes, I can," he said simply.  "I've chosen to obey you, my lady."

"I'm flattered," she said with a wry smile.  "But why should I trust you not to change your mind and decide to escape . . . or worse?"

"You have my word," he insisted.  "I will obey you and serve you to the best of my ability.  And, frankly, there's not much you could do about it if I did decide to leave."

"That will have to do," she said abruptly.  "You're just too delicious to resist right now."  Her hands wandered over his chest, running her fingers through the hairs, and lightly raking him with her nails.  She stood up suddenly, untied her sash, and let the silk robe fall off.

"You're beautiful, my lady," he said reverently.

She smiled, and walked across the room to retrieve her knife, well aware that he was watching her as she moved.  When she returned, she suddenly mounted him, and he gasped as his cock was enclosed by her moist heat.  She didn't move, but took the knife and began drawing patterns with its point on his chest.  "Don't move until I tell you," she ordered, while she drew lines along his abdominal muscles with the knife, then moved it back up to his chest, tracing a spiral that radiated outward from first one nipple then the other.  His nerves danced as the point of the knife travelled over his chest and abdomen.  She drew a circle with it within the hollow of his throat and then a straight line down to his navel, and then etched icy-hot lines along the tender flesh on the undersides of his arms, one after the other.  She was fascinated by the swell of his pectoral muscles, and traced them with the knife, sometimes pausing to press it harder into his flesh, but without drawing blood.  He moaned softly; it was agonizingly delicious to be inside her, and it was maddening not to be able to do anything about it.  "I know what you want, Hercules," she added, "but whether you get it or not will depend on your perfect obedience.  And on my whims.  A slave shouldn't count on having his desires satisfied."

"As you wish," he whispered.

"Exactly," she answered with a smile, and he dared to grin back.  They both knew they had an unspoken understanding, as if they were reading each others' minds.  But she didn't want him to be too complacent, and she pressed the point of the knife into one nipple with perfect control.  He wouldn't get hurt, but the sensation was like a bolt of lightning straight to his groin.  He groaned aloud, exerting all his willpower to prevent his hips from thrusting upward.  While keeping pressure on one nipple with the knife, she reached for the other with her free hand, and began to pull on it and roll it between her fingers.  Hercules had a double motivation not to move.  He was genuinely afraid of displeasing her--and not because he feared punishment, but because he wanted her to be pleased--and he didn't want to jolt the knife point pressing into his nipple.  The other nipple burned with her rough handling.  He was consumed with desire, and the desire to surrender himself to her pleasure burned even hotter than the desire for his own release.

"Please, Xena," he begged her hoarsely.  "Please let me use my hands."

She raised her eyebrows at his free use of her name, but decided to let it go because she liked the sound of her name in his pleading voice.  "What for?" she asked coolly.

"To give you pleasure, Xena, my lady, please."

She put the knife aside and laid her hands flat along his chest.  "Go ahead," she said.  "Free yourself.  Impress me."

This was a harder task than it would have been before, as he now had to cope with the chains wrapped around his wrists and the lock on the bed, but it would simply take more effort.  He began to pull his wrists apart, straining against the metal.  He clenched his teeth with the exertion, and Xena felt his entire body tense beneath her.  He also had to concentrate on controlling himself--he hadn't been given permission to come yet.  As he separated his hands, the chain began to creak and ever so slowly some of the links began to pull apart.  "That's amazing," she said, despite herself.  He pulled harder, his body flexing, and the muscles swelling in his chest and arms.  The chain suddenly snapped, and the heavy iron lock that had attached it to the bar flew off.  He reached up and snatched it out of the air and was left with the manacles on his wrists, and a length of broken chain dangling from each one.

"I am impressed," she said, grinning, her eyes sparkling.  "Can you break off those chains so they don't get in the way?  Leave the manacles--they look good on you."

"As you wish," he said, smiling back, his face alight with pleasure.  He snapped the chain off each manacle, and again she enjoyed the flexing of his muscles beneath her.

"Now what did you want to do with those hands now that you've freed them?" she asked.

"Make you feel good," he said softly, "although apparently I already am doing so" he added with a slight raise of his eyebrows.  Her juices flowed down around his stiff cock and down her thighs and lubricated his belly and hips.

"Yes, you can tell I liked that," she purred in a sultry tone.  "Now, go ahead, make me feel even better."

He slid his large hands up along her rib cage until he cupped her breasts, then grasped them firmly and began to brush his thumbs over her erect nipples.  "Yesss," she hissed, then added, "don't think you have to be gentle."

"As you wish," he said, with a wide smile.  He began molding her breasts more roughly in his hands, then rolling the nipples between his fingers.

"Harder," she said through clenched teeth.  "Use some of that strength of yours in a good cause."

"As you wish," he repeated, pressing harder, while pulling on her nipples sharply.  With a rough squeeze, he brought her to her climax.  She gasped and let out a sharp cry, and she pulsed around his aching cock.  He held his body utterly rigid, willing himself not to come, and when the danger had passed, he looked up at his mistress, noting the sudden softness in her face and the gesture with which she pushed her dark hair off her forehead.

She gazed at him, her blue eyes piercing his own.  Her lips twitched slightly in a knowing smile, which he returned.  But what she said, in a devastatingly soft voice, was "Get your hands back over your head."

He obeyed, and she leaned forward, bracing herself on his arms, knowing he had the strength to support her weight.  "Stay still," she admonished, and began to slide herself up and down on his cock.  He gritted his teeth as the friction made his arousal all the more unbearable, and her fingers dug into the flesh of his arms.  With perfect control, she raised herself almost all the way off him, then lowered herself back down, with a maddeningly slow pace.  This continued for several minutes, and he tossed his head, growling softly with his teeth bared, unable to keep his body entirely still or his voice silent.

Suddenly, with one hand, she grasped a handful of his long hair, and wrapped it tightly around her hand, her fist now bracing itself on his arm.  "You've been very very good.  You can move now, slave boy," she whispered, "and you have permission to come, but you'd better give me a good ride."   His hips rocked upward at her words, and he began thrusting into her slowly.  She matched her motions to his, and he gradually moved his pelvis faster.  "Go ahead, slave boy, show me how strong you are," she urged.  "I like it hard and fast."

"As you wish," he gasped.  It was actually an infinite relief not to have to be gentle and hold back as the world's strongest man had to with other female lovers.  Given permission to go all out, he thrust into her with all his strength, and she clamped herself against him with all of hers.

Hercules' groans grew louder as his cock drove into her depths, and her breathing got faster and faster, until she came with a shrieked "YAH!" while yanking hard on her handful of his hair.   His orgasm followed hers immediately, and it was as if weeks of tension released themselves in an overpowering flood.  His hips high rose off the bed, lifting her with them, as he came, and he roared, engulfed with ecstasy.  She collapsed against his chest, and he ventured to put his arms around her, and they lay together while the spasms of their bodies gradually slowed.

Tears were welling dangerously in his eyes, however, and he turned his head away, letting his hair fall over his face.  Between the long-delayed physical release and his conflicting feelings about Xena and about his own submission, Hercules was overwhelmed.  He felt as head-over-heels, foolishly in love as a teenager, beset with a desperate puppy love that thrilled at the least acknowledgment by the beloved.  He felt deliriously happy to have pleased his Mistress and humiliated at his willing surrender at the same time.

As Xena carefully levered herself off his body, he quickly placed his hands back over his head.  "You have good instincts, and I like that," she said softly, "but you can drop the formalities for now."  He lowered his arms, and she brushed the hair out of his face, forcing him to reveal to her his tear-filled eyes.  "You don't know how much I cherish those tears," she murmured.  "My other slaves are so inured to their status that they don't really feel what it is to give of themselves.  You give yourself willingly, and it's so very hard for you," she mused.  She lightly stroked his arm as she talked, tracing the curve of a bicep, then she bent to kiss him.  She parted her lips, and he accepted the invitation, letting her capture his tongue in her mouth and claim it as her own as she sucked on it forcefully, while her tongue twined around it in an urgent and compelling dance.

When she broke the kiss, she reached across him to the table next to her bed, rummaging in the drawer.  She pulled out a key and unlocked the manacles on his wrists, saying gently, but with an ironic smile, "I don't think you'll be needing those any more, slave boy.  Somehow I don't think you'll be trying to run away."  Xena reached for the knife abstractedly, the way another person might toy with a toothpick and began tracing lines along the swell of his biceps.

He swallowed, his eyes still leaking tears, "That I won't, my lady."

"You came to me for a reason, didn't you?" she asked.  "The minute I saw you I knew those chains couldn't hold you, and you must have let yourself be captured."

"You're very observant, my lady."

Xena smacked Hercules sharply on a nipple with the flat of the knife, saying, "I didn't get where I am now by being unobservant, slave boy."

His cock immediately sprang to attention, and he heard a throaty chuckle beside him.  "One of these days, you're going to have to tell me where you're from and why you're here," she paused, "Hercules, but I haven't much time, and right now I want to amuse myself . . .  with this."  She touched the very tip of his cock with a finger, then drew it down its length, then shifted to sit between his legs.  He felt the point of the knife press into his balls and gulped suddenly.  Xena laughed and remarked, "I suggest you hold very still, slave boy."

"Yes, my lady," he breathed.  With the flat of the knife, she weighed his balls, lifting first one, then the other.  Then she delicately scraped the blade over them with a touch so light he felt no pressure, just a wisp of breeze as the knife hummed over his flesh.

"You trust me," she said wonderingly.  "Any other man I know would have gone completely limp by now in fear."

"I have reasons to trust you," he said softly.

"Hmm.  That's an intriguing thought, but I'll hold it for later."  Xena tapped his cock with the flat of the knife.  When Hercules moaned, his arousal rising in him again as if it hadn't been quenched, she tapped him harder, then slapped his cock on one side with the knife and then on the other as it swayed and quivered.  Hercules' knuckles were white where he was gripping the bed frame above his head, as Xena proceeded to drag the point of the knife along the underside of his cock, and then, with an exquisitely delicate touch, she collected a drop of the fluid that was seeping out of the tip onto the knife and licked it off with a feral grin.

"Gods.  What you do to me, slave-boy."  She put the knife aside and moved up to the head of the bed.  "I want you to pleasure me with that magnificent tongue of yours," she ordered, straddling his head.  Hercules readily complied, placing his hands on her buttocks to help support her weight and probing her depths with his tongue, while her juices and his own seed spread along his cheeks and chin.  Then he sucked her clit between his lips and closed his teeth on it, all the while sucking hard.  Xena climaxed with a triumphant whoop, and Hercules felt the paroxysms of the muscles under his fingers.  She shifted so she was sitting next to him and descended upon his mouth for a brutal kiss that left his lower lip bleeding from the ravages of her teeth.

"You're mine," she growled roughly.  "Mine, slave boy."

"Yours, my lady," he murmured, awed by the intensity of her passion.

"You may not wear my manacles any more, but I want you to bear my mark, Hercules," she said fiercely.  "And I want to see you bleed for me, up close."

"Wh-whatever you wish, my lady," he agreed, caught up in this moment where nothing else existed but Xena and his need to please her.

"On your knees," she said in a slightly calmer voice.  He scrambled off the bed and knelt, gazing up into her blazing blue eyes from his own clear blue depths.  She had the knife in her hand, and he noted how much the knife was an extension of her body, of her power and control.  "Brace yourself," she said dryly, then with a few swift strokes, she carved her initial into his upper arm, slightly below the shoulder.  "That will last for a while," she said with satisfaction as the blood began to well up, "and the beauty of it, is that I can always have the pleasure of doing it again."

She straddled him, impaling herself on his erection, then leaned forward to lick the blood from the mark she had carved.  Then she kissed him, forcing her tongue into his mouth.  Her voice low, she said, "Yes, taste yourself.  Taste your essence, taste yourself opening up to me, giving me everything that you are, Hercules."

Not everything, he thought to himself as a wave of love for Iolaus washed over him, Iolaus who gave himself so willingly to him.

But then she whispered, "Fuck me, slave boy.  Use your strength to lift your Mistress," and he was swept away again by his own desire to be possessed.  He slipped his hands under her muscular buttocks, and she grasped onto his hair with both hands like reins.  His head fell back, and the cords of his neck stood out while he raised and lowered her on his throbbing shaft, forcing himself to keep to a deliberate pace, until she ordered, "faster now."

Within a few moments she yelled, "Oh yes!  Good boy!" and she convulsed around him, triggering his own obliterating, shattering climax.

Spent and exhausted, he nonetheless managed to sweep her up in his arms and deposit her on the bed.  She patted the bed next to her, and he lay down gratefully, lifting her hand to his mouth and pressing kisses on it.  Xena ran her fingers through his sweat-soaked hair, pushing it away from his forehead, then ran her fingertips along his cheekbone and jawline.  "I have to tell you something," she said after a while.   "Caesar's preparing a force to sail toward the coast.  He sends out these feelers now and then," she said disgustedly, "always hoping I'm somehow no longer in power or weakened.  Or maybe he hopes these periodic skirmishes will wear me down.  I have to defeat them convincingly--then he'll stay away for a while.  We leave for the coast tomorrow."

"I saw the preparations," answered Hercules quietly.  "Let me go with you."

"Why?" she challenged, her hand flat on his chest.

"You've seen that I can fight, my lady," he offered.  "I can help."

"You're sooo transparent I can see right through you," she purred silkily.  "You want to be there to try to defend me, don't you?"

He nodded.  "I don't need protecting," she said harshly, but then her tone softened, "but I'll take you with me on one condition."

"Yes, my lady."

"You obey my every order without question--as a warrior, not as a favorite, not as a devoted slave.  That means you go where I tell you, whether it leaves you in a position to defend me or not.  Understand?"

"Yes, my lady," he answered, bowing his head.  "I will obey."

"All right then," she smiled.

"If I may make a request," he began.


"My shirt and my gauntlets.  I'll feel pretty silly going into battle without them."

"Of course," she laughed.  "You'll have them in the morning when we ride.  When we get back here, though, you give them up again.  You're a slave, my slave first and foremost."

"I understand, my lady."

"Good," Xena said decisively.  "Now go get some sleep.  We'll be up early."  She pulled Hercules to her for a prolonged kiss, then smacked him on the buttocks.  "Now go, slave boy."

He dropped to one knee, kissed her hand, and whispered, "Thank you, my lady.  F-for everything.  I . . . "

"You don't need to say anything," she said gently.  "I know."

He got up, pulled on the minimum number of clothes to make a decent exit, and headed for his own quarters.

to Chapter 7

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