AN: If you have read some of my other stories, specifically The Commander's Poet and Lady of Shanghai, you should know that I like to include historical events/characters into my work. This story is no different and while I was trying to write a Post-FIN story, I couldn't do it. I like to write conqueror Xena, I like to think I am good at it, or at least I'm good at coming up with new challenging ideas. Perhaps in the future I will revisit the Post FIN story but for now, I will keep it locked away.
So this piece here, has been on my mind for months, but I wanted to complete Commander's Poet first before even writing this. I've rewritten the plot three times and finally have come up with something that I think will work.
We are going back in time before the Roman Empire even existed.
I am rewriting Xena's past once again, but with a very interesting twist. Gabrielle's role is also very different than her original canon character.
Good luck, leave feedback and enjoy!
A Lady's Rogue
In harsh time of politics and ideological differences between the two most powerful city states in Greece, Sparta and Athens warred with each other. Sparta was supposed to be Athens' ally, but nevertheless, Athens wanted to cut ties with their neighbors. Athens political atmosphere was crumbling every day. What is it? oligarchy? Democracy? Populist nation? Athens could not even decide what political ideology they wished to adhere to.
The more indecisive Athens became, the more Sparta hated their northern neighbors. Oligarchic Sparta chose to not only separate from Athens as an ally, but also declared war on them. The Spartans grew tired of being bossed around by Athenian politicians and considering Sparta had more land, Athens was outnumbered.
Sparta's sister city, Corinth, also wanted to cut ties with Athens because the rival city claimed all of the sea commerce that passed through the Gulf of Corinth. Athens had the largest port in Greece, yet they wanted more. Corinth decided that they wanted to take control of the sea commerce and exclude Athens from the treaty they signed over one hundred years ago. Corinth was a sister of Sparta, though, the two were not exactly friends either.
The Peloponnesian cities often teamed up to fight Athens, though, now things were different. Greece was falling apart and the three largest city states had bigger enemies to think about. The Persians. The Easterners, as the Athenians called them, charged through the Gulf of Corinth and Sparta to claim the city states as their own.
Sparta asked for aid from Athens and they kindly assisted, but only to keep the Persians out of the Mediterranean Sea. That war between the Persians cost Sparta thousands of warriors and Athens had lost under one hundred men during those short months. Athens' navy pushed out the large fleet of Persian ships just before they were about to dock at Athens' largest port. Sparta was angered that the Athenians did not care for the lives that were lost during that war and decided at that moment that Sparta was Athens' enemy.
The problem with Athens was that they underestimated the Spartans and their capability to war against them. Athens was attacked not once but twice in ten years by Sparta and Corinth. The two city states teamed up to fight their rival. General Miltiades was appointed by the Athenian Council to lead the attack against the Corinthians in the Gulf. Sparta employed Corinth to fight the enemy since they had ships and Sparta was stuck inland.
Corinth was a small city, though it was once the most powerful city in Greece until Athens took over. That small city became Corinth's worst nightmare. Longing to become the only sea power in Greece, they offered to help Sparta and fight the Athenians. Since Corinth was not like Athens and had no council and was not an oligarchy like Sparta, they were a city made up of nomads and tribal people. Long live Corinth, as the civilians threatened Athens time and time again.
General Miltiades had no idea what he was getting into and he feared his own council sent him on a suicide mission. Athens did indeed have a stronger navy than Corinth, but the leaders of the Gulf of Corinth was his ultimate concern. He begged the council for seventy ships but was only given twenty ships to fight the Corinthians. Knowing that wouldn't be enough ships, he went against his orders and stole seventy Athenian ships from the port to raid Corinth.
Even though Corinth was lead by nomads and traders, the two people in charge of Corinth took no prisoners. Xena and Borias, both not natives to Corinth, took over the entire port by warfare and constantly tried to intercept Athens and their mediocre attacks. General Miltiades feared that even seventy ships would not aid him against the Corinthians.
Xena stood on the ship waiting in the middle of the Gulf. Through the thick morning fog she could see the large Athenian ships coming towards them. Her eyes widened with excitement and her belly filled with butterflies the moment she saw the enemy inching closer and closer. She ran down onto the deck and climbed up the main mast to oversee the amount of the enemies' ships.
Borias was already on the top of the mast, lounging on the railing, until he saw Xena join him. He grinned and grabbed her hand, hoisting her up. She squinted her eyes and saw the massive amount of ships.
"There must be at least sixty ships," he alleged.
"Seventy," she counted and nudged his arm. "You should be more alert, Borias. That's how people get themselves killed."
He chuckled softly and wrapped his arm around her taut waist. "And that's why I have you," he whispered and nuzzled his nose into her thick dark hair. Xena gasped heavily then firmly grabbed his wrist.
"Not now," she hissed and threw his arm off of her and leaned over the rails, watching the Athenians steer towards them through the narrow canal. "We can celebrate later when I drown all the Athenian's ships." She growled.
A half hour later Xena was steering the ship towards the canal slowly. While the Athenians had seventy ships, the main one leading the charge had the general of Athens on it, Xena could see the man's beaming eyes glaring at her even from miles away. She felt the stinging burn he left on her skin and she smiled, turning the wheel several times to the left. She felt like she could win even with the twenty ships she had.
Borias frowned and approached the captain's deck. He looked out into the gulf and saw Xena steering the ship to the left. "What are you doing?" he yelled up to her.
Xena bit her bottom lip and grunted as she held the ship until it finally turned entirely to the left. "Tell the men below to row faster!" she yelled and one of the shipmen ran down below the deck.
Moments later the ship jolted forward and the rowers below, pushed as hard as possible, sweat drenching their backs and faces. The ship creaked and Borias jumped forward, grabbing onto the foremast so he wouldn't topple over. The ship bowed and the other ships behind and beside them, increased their speed as well.
"Xena, what are you doing?" he growled.
Her smile grew as they approached the general's ship faster and faster, gliding head on into the Athenian ship. "I'm going to ram it." she said and looked down at her lover's shocked expression.
"This is not a battle ram ship, Xena!" he yelled and grabbed her arm forcefully.
Xena snorted and pressed her body against his, breathing heavily, the war and excitement, stirring all of her emotions inside of her, tempting to rise to the surface. "Then I guess we better pray to the gods..." she winked and pushed him aside, unsheathing her sword. She ran to the bow of the ship, standing on the edge. The water crashed against the sides of the ship and see now saw the fear in the general's eyes.
Miltiades panicked and ran to the quarterdeck, pushing through his soldiers. "She's going to ram us!" he warned and the captain of the ship desperately tried to steer the ship out of the Corinthian's ship's path. "No!" he screamed. "If we steer away now it will only break our ship apart! Head straight –"
The two ships collided with one another and the bow of the Athenian ship shattered in billions of pieces and many men fell overboard. Xena jumped onto the ship with the shipmen following right behind her. Miltiades collapsed onto the deck and grunted. It's too late now, he thought.
Xena sliced through Athenians left and right as she and her men invaded the general's ship. She smiled and saw the cowardly Miltiades standing on the deck, glaring down at her.
"Why don't you come down here where it's warmer?!" she called out with a bit of a tease in her tone.
Miltiades was a young general, in fact one of the youngest generals in Athens. His partners had seen many wars, while he only fought one. He wasn't going to let a woman or these tribal people ruin his chances of becoming one of the greatest generals in Greek history.
"I can almost taste you!" she licked her lips and Miltiades growled and jumped off the deck, unsheathing his sword in midair. Her mouth gaped and their swords clashed together and slowly began circling each other. "Did you pray to the gods, Miltiades?" she smiled.
He growled and put all his weight onto the blade, pushing her down to her knees. Xena clenched her jaw and tried to fight him as long as she could. His strength was incredible, she noticed. He snickered at her subtle defeat. "No, but you probably should," he threatened.
Xena cried out and kicked the general's kneecaps and stood. He moaned and she then grabbed him by his short hair and head butted his forehead. He stumbled backward into a few barrels lining the deck's walls. She held the sword to his throat and he looked into her wild eyes.
"How does it feel to be defeated by a woman, Miltiades? Will you go tell your Athenian buddies about this day?" she chuckled and raised the blade into the air.
An Athenian soldier saw his general about to be killed by the malicious Corinthian and he ran over and swiped his sword, nicking Xena's side. She hissed in agony and snapped her head around to see the young soldier, fearful of her. She growled and circled around herself, swinging her sword, she stomped her sandal on a random sword on the deck and kicked it up into her grasp.
She let out a loud war cry and decapitated the soldier with a swift swing of both swords. She cringed and saw blood seeping out of her side. She turned around, nearly forgetting about the general. Miltiades had jumped onto another one of his ships and she ran to the rail, watching him escape. Her blood boiled and she cursed herself for getting so easily distracted.
On the port in between Athens and Corinth, Xanthippus, one of the head politicians in Athens' Council, watched the sea battle from afar. He was miles away, but he saw that the Corinthians were now ramming all of their ships into Miltiades' front fleet. Xanthippus, a retired general who fought many wars with the Corinthians and Spartans, would have approached this battle differently.
The elderly politician was irritated that for one, Miltiades stole Athenian ships, but he also underestimated the Corinthians. Those dogs were vicious and they also had Sparta backing them up and sent their best warriors to fight in the battle. He thought it was ridiculous that Miltiades took seventy ships and couldn't even get past the measly twenty Corinthian ships in the canal.
"What a foolish man," he grumbled.
His regent approached him and looked out the balcony, witnessing the horror before her eyes. Her hand came to her mouth as she saw many of the Athenian ships being not only rammed but also blown into smithereens. She thought for sure that Athens would have no problem defeating Corinth, but her assumption couldn't have been more wrong.
Xanthippus' eyes traveled downward at the young regent. He let out a heavy sigh and knew that Athens was going to be mocked for this. It would go down in history that the Corinthians defeated Athens.
"It is an embarrassment isn't it, Gabrielle?" he said.
The young blonde gave a curt nod. "I thought Miltiades would have had a better strategy..." she lamented.
"We are going to be defeated by a bunch of savage commerce traders." He said and another one of their ships were set aflame by catapults launched from inland of Corinth. He buried his face in his hands, embarrassed to look at this any longer, he decided to leave the balcony to save his dignity.
Gabrielle couldn't take her eyes off the battle at sea, no matter how terrible or embarrassing it was. It was like the apocalypse struck down on the Athenians. The gods were punishing us, she thought. Athens will be ruined after this. She soon realized Xanthippus, her mentor left her side and left the balcony.
"Xanthippus!" she ran up to walk beside him. "What will happen to Athens after this battle?"
He smiled weakly and pat the girl's shoulder. "Time will tell, my child. For now, we will wait for Miltiades to return and hope to Zeus that he brings victory upon our people."
She grabbed his arm and he halted, staring into her frightened emerald eyes. "And if he doesn't?"
He kissed her forehead and pat her cheek. "Then we will simply war with Corinth until there are no Corinthians left. Athens must be at the top!" he said with great pride although Gabrielle was less than convinced. "I know you have your heart set on marrying Miltiades, Gabrielle, but he will not see the light of day if he returns as a failure..." he frowned deeply and walked off.
Gabrielle's jaw dropped as soon as she heard that. She didn't want Miltiades to die just because Athens could possibly lose. She couldn't let that happen. Her family sent her to Athens to have a better life and she was able to get into the inner circles of Athens over the last couple of years. This year marked her eighteenth birthday and Xanthippus, her mentor, set up the marriage between her and Miltiades last year. The following year on her nineteenth birthday she was to marry the young handsome general, but she couldn't do that if he lost this battle.
She didn't travel all the way to Athens for nothing. She wanted to become a politician in this great city, but how could she now? Her marriage could be ruined because of these Corinthians and she could possibly be sent back to Potidaea for good and be a farmer's daughter again. No, she told herself, not today, not ever.
She ran back to the balcony and looked at the destruction on the waters miles away. Three Athenian ships were sunk by the malicious Corinthians. She growled and banged her fist on the railing, anger rising inside her. She couldn't do anything from this balcony, but it wasn't like she could go and save Miltiades and the entire army either. She had to watch these people die and fail.
Miltiades saw the Corinthians about to ram another ship into the one he escaped on. He growled and yelled at his shipmen. "Retreat!" he yelled and the men stared at him incredulously. "Fall back!"
The captain of the ship waved his hand to the other captains on each ship and began steering the ship backwards away from the Corinthians. Miltiades kicked one Corinthian as the dog tried to climb aboard. The enemy fell into the cold Gulf and he wiped the sweat off his brow.
Xena laughed once she saw Miltiades and his entire fleet retreating into the Gulf to sail back to Athens. "That's right, run home to your master, you bastard!" she yelled and all the Corinthians on the neighboring ships cheered victoriously. She winced and doubled over, forgetting about her wound she received from that inexperienced soldier earlier.
Borias frowned and grabbed hold of her body. "Xena!" he lifted her up and she dropped her sword, her head lolling backwards. He drug her off the deck and saw felt warm liquid on his hand. He glanced down at his palm and saw blood. "She is wounded!" he called for help.
Two men ran to their side and grabbed Xena by her legs and arms, carrying her off the ship and inland to be treated for her severe wound.
The following day, the Corinthians docked their ships back at the port and everyone was inland now, in their homes either recovering or being treated for minor injuries. Borias stayed awake most of the night in their two story home off the coast. Xena's chest rose and fell slowly as she lay in bed with a few bandages wrapped around her torso.
The longer he stared at her as she lay in bed, looking the most peaceful he had ever seen her, the more he wished that she wouldn't get herself into so much trouble. But he couldn't prevent that. He couldn't control what Xena did, nobody could.
Xena's eyes fluttered open and she writhed in agony as she tried to sit up in bed. The blanket fell off her body and Borias quickly ran to her side, gently pushing her down onto the pillows. She lifted the blanket and saw her entire torso bandaged up, though bleed still seeped through the cloths.
"You shouldn't have rammed that ship, Xena," he said and she groaned, trying to get comfortable in the bed. He smiled down at her and brushed the backside of his hand along her cheek.
"We won didn't we?" she griped and he rolled his eyes.
"You got yourself injured because of your stupidity." Borias looked into her dangerous eyes and she pursed her lips, glaring at him. He grinned softly and kissed her hand.
She growled and tried to sit up, this time a bit slower. He tried to urge her to lay down but she swatted his arm away. "I didn't..." her lungs constricted as soon as she turned her body to the side. Hissing softly, she pressed her hand against her wound. "I didn't...see you try and stop me," she teased.
"Even if I did...you would do it anyway," he alleged and she gave him a knowing look. She stretched out her arms, wrapping them around his neck. She toyed with his long braided hair and straddled one leg behind him and the other, intertwined with his leg.
"See...now.." she bit her lip and inched closer to his body. "Things work out better if they're done...my way," she hissed. "Those Athenian bastards will have to tell their council that they lost. What a sad day it will be for them," she chuckled and kissed his neck sensually.
A sneaky smile appeared on his lips and he brought Xena closer to him, kissing her jaw softly. He was careful not to let his hands roam along her wound, though it seemed she had forgotten about her injury in a split second. She was obviously excited that the Corinthians won against the arrogant Athenians.
Pricilla, the healer barged into the room to check on Xena and her eyes widened. She shied away and Xena saw the woman standing in the doorway and gently pushed Borias off her body. "What do you want?" she spat.
The healer turned to the wall and Borias peered behind to see a very bashful woman and smirked. "I...need to check your bandages.." she admitted quietly.
Borias turned to Xena and whispered, "we can do this later," he kissed her nose and then left the bed, walking by Pricilla and chuckled under his breath, exiting the room.
The woman hurried over to the bed and began checking Xena's bandages. The Corinthian warrior grabbed the healer's wrist firmly and Pricilla held her breath. "If you ever come in here unannounced again I will make sure those hands of yours will no longer have healing capabilities. Do I make myself clear?"
She nodded, "yes ma'am..." she muttered and began unwrapping the bandages around Xena's waist. She poked at the wound and Xena crinkled her nose. "Sorry," the woman fearfully apologized and then took some herbs, crushing them in the bowl with her fingers.
Xena sat with her breasts barely covered by the bandages, waiting for the woman to finish mixing the poultice for the open wound. Pricilla pushed back the blanket around Xena's taut stomach and gently dabbed the herb mixture inside the wound. Xena balled up her fists and looked away, trying to ignore the sharp pain.
Pricilla leaned over and kept filling the open gash with the herbs and eyed Xena's pained face. "Ma'am..." she whispered and Xena frowned. "You are lucky that the gash was not elsewhere..."
Xena scoffed, "oh right, I should be so lucky," she rolled her eyes. "You are taking too long," she grumbled and waved her hand at the healer. Pricilla did her best to hurry the process along and wiped her hands on her apron.
Once her wound was dressed Xena was able to breathe normally again and leaned back against the pillows, wincing slightly. She kicked the blankets off her legs, feeling suddenly so hot, especially since the sun was beaming into her bedroom.
"Close the curtains," she instructed and Pricilla ran to the window, pushing the curtains together, doing as told. Xena sighed and closed her eyes, trying to ignore the stabbing pain. "I suppose you don't have any valerian root with you," she muttered. She desperately needed something to ease the pain.
The healer lowered her eyes, "no and...I would not give it to you anyway," she said and Xena's eyes grew in shock.
"Is that so?" Xena smiled at the fearful woman. "And why is that?"
Pricilla took in a deep breath and dare not look into the warrior's eyes. "It would harm you."
Xena scoffed. "Since when do I ask for your advice?" she shook her head and wrapped her arm around her midsection, breathing out heavily. "Go get the valerian root!"
"I told you, I won't give it to you..." the healer said and Xena laughed and grabbed a short knife lying on the bedside table.
"I said...go get the valerian root, unless you want to lose those precious hands of yours." Xena smirked and Pricilla sighed heavily, finally lifting her eyes to stare at the wounded warrior.
"You can take my hands if you want, but I will not allow you to take the root and hurt an innocent life," the woman frowned and Xena raised a suspicious brow. She saw the look of confusion written all over Xena's face and fidgeted with her hands behind her back. "The innocent life inside you..."
Xena's eyes widened and she lowered the knife, staring into the honest woman's eyes. She cackled and Pricilla frowned at her madness. "I am not pregnant. Go get the root!"
"Yes you are!" Pricilla said and furrowed her eyebrows. "Please," she begged and Xena saw that the woman was now groveling and it was pathetic. She threw the knife at the wall behind the woman and she yelped, ducking her head in fear.
Xena swung her legs off the edge of the bed and carefully walked towards the cabinet across the way. She held her side and bit her bottom lip, embracing the pain. Pricilla lifted her head and saw Xena rummaging through the cabinet, tipping over bottles and small vials.
She pulled out a vial from the back of the cabinet with a smile on her face. Hopeful that it was what she was looking for. She cringed and leaned on the wall. Looking at the vial it was empty and she groaned, turning around, she wagged the empty vial at the healer.
"You will...find this herb for me," she threatened as her breathing labored the more she steps she took. Pricilla knew what was inside the vial and she shook her head vehemently.
"No, no..." the healer covered her mouth. "I won't do it."
"Oh, but you will," Xena's smile widened and she grabbed the woman by her throat and began choking her. "Find it!" she growled and threw the petite woman aside. "Your life depends on it," Xena gruffly added and made her way back to the bed, cautiously.
Pricilla quickly ran out of the room and Xena laid down in bed, staring at the wall in front of her. She folded her arms and sighed heavily. That woman is crazy, she began telling herself. I don't have time for a child, not right now. It will ruin everything, all of my plans, everything that I have worked so hard for, will disappear.
The longer she laid in bed, the more her thoughts began to haunt her. She angrily growled and tipped over the table beside the bed and the wine glasses shattered. Her eyes wild and then she saw Borias enter the room and her heart raced even faster than it already has.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
Am I alright? She smiled tightly at him and couldn't think of anything else except the supposed child growing inside her. The wound on her side was the least of her worries right now. "Yes..." she lied and he frowned, knowing she was lying straight to his face. "That woman is annoying." She felt sweat dripping down her brow and she wiped her forehead, now suddenly feeling anxious.
"You think everyone is annoying, Xena," he said and she couldn't even look at him anymore. He came and sat on the edge of the bed. He reached for her hand and she pulled away, resting her back against the pillows. "I told you I would come back later..." he teased and inched closer, kissing her bare shoulder.
She smiled softly and turned over, cupping his cheeks. "That, you did..." she breathlessly says and then kissed his lips gently, forgetting about her worries for awhile. Now, if she could trust Pricilla to get what she needed, her worries would be no more.
Miltiades stood in front of the Athenian Council and saw a lot of disappointed faces in the room. He couldn't help feel responsible for the Corinthian's victory over Athens. It was a dumb decision to fight with those tribal people. Athens was supposed to be the best city state in Greece, yet it was failing and dying. Once, Athens used to be an oligarchy like Sparta, but now the city was divided between multiple parties. Nobody could decide on anything.
Xanthippus spoke with Aristides, he trusted and loyal friend. The two were the only aristocrats in the room that supported Athens becoming an aristocracy, though many other people believed in other ideologies, especially Themistocles. Xanthippus made sure to keep an eye on that one.
The elderly man stood from his seat and the room quieted down. He stared into the fearful eyes of the young Miltiades. "You have brought shame to Athens, general."
Miltiades sighed and lowered his head. It was bad enough that he failed his army, now he had to be told he failed the entire city. He was going to go down in history as the worst general in Athens' history. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Gabrielle staring at him in the doorway. He knew she wasn't supposed to be in this room, but now this was even more embarrassing for him. The person he was going to marry had to witness this shameful defeat.
Aristides stood and spoke to the young general. "You not only stole ships from our port, but you deliberately went into the Gulf of Corinth. You underestimated those savages and now they will make a mockery of us all!" he banged his fist on the table and the other men whispered amongst each other.
Themistocles chuckled and Aristides eyed the cocky young politician. "Something to say, Themistocles?"
The youngest politician stood and brushed down his cloths, smiling at all his elders. "Miltiades is a good man, Aristides. He has made a mistake, don't we all make mistakes?" he eyed everyone in the room and Xanthippus sent him a terrifying glare.
"It is more than a mistake!" Xanthippus spat. "He humiliated our entire nation! Now the Spartans will think that we are weak minded and can be easily overthrown! Corinth has Sparta as its backup and will do anything to protect the Peloponnesian culture!"
Aristides nodded. "Yes, I agree. Sparta will now attack us because Corinth is her ally. It is all because of General Miltiades mistake that we will suffer and perish!"
Themistocles rolled his eyes and plopped back down in his chair. "We were suffering and perishing long before Miltiades came along." He mumbled.
Periscus stood beside Aristides and pointed at Miltiades. "He should be sentenced to death for treason and for Athens' humiliating demise!"
All the other men at the table stood, suddenly agreeing with Periscus and Miltiades' jaw dropped. Death penalty? I don't want to die, he thought. He could live with being shamed and humiliated for the rest of his life for this defeat, but to die and be humiliated after death was far worse.
Xanthippus quieted everyone in the room and looked dead into Miltiades' eyes. "We will debate over your proper charge. In the meantime you are free to go." He shooed him away with a simple wave of his hand.
Miltiades joined Gabrielle outside of the council room and she cusped his cheeks with her small delicate hands. He couldn't even look into her eyes, he felt so awful about what he had done.
"Maybe I can convince Xanthippus to lighten your sentence," she offered.
He smiled softly and kissed her palm. "Thank you Gabrielle, you are too kind for words, but I must let the council decide my fate."
Her eyes swelled with tears and they walked together through the large corridor. "Themistocles believes it was a mistake! He has many people on his side! Maybe people will listen to him?"
Miltiades sighed. "You mustn't go against your mentor, Gabrielle. He would be even more embarrassed if his star pupil went against his teachings."
She stepped in front of him and grabbed his forearms. "But I don't want you to die!" she pleaded.
Grinning, the general cupped her cheeks and brushed his fingers through her long golden hair. "They still need to discuss the charges. Besides if Xena wasn't there, I probably would have won." He was still bitter about that woman. If she wasn't so headstrong and arrogant, he surely would have won that battle.
Her face contorted and frowned in confusion. "Who is this woman? The Corinthians have a woman leading the army?" she couldn't believe it. Women don't lead armies, she thought, at least not in Athens.
"A dangerous viper," he growled. "I hope she chokes on her own blood and dies a slow and painful death."