Xena noticed the men first.
“Gina, who are these men? I’m scared,” said the woman stepping behind Gina’s back as if trying to hide from them.
“Don’t worry,” the girl tried to make Xena believe that she was safe, “they’ll just water the horses and go away.”
Though, Gina wasn’t so sure in her words. The guys definitely saw them and were heading right straight in their direction. When they approached the girl realized that Xena’s chakram was too far to reach. Gina put it in the backpack for Xena not to cut herself again and the backpacks were under the tree a hundred feet away.
“Well, well, whom do we have here? A mother with a child on a picnic,” told the guy who seemed to be the leader of the rascals.
“Good evening, gentlemen. I think we stayed a little longer, didn’t we, mom? It’s time to go. It was nice to meet you,” Gina nearly curtsied in front of this bunch of outlaws, took Xena’s hand and wanted to withdraw from the site but it was easier said than done.
The bearded man with dark hair and a big sword began laughing. Others followed him immediately.
“I see you taught your girl good manners,” marked the man addressing to Xena.
“Yes, my mother taught me well,” Gina shouted and ran dragging Xena to the tree.
They reached the tree, the men surrounded them too quickly, though. The warrior princess started nearly shaking when she saw all the swords pointed at them. Gina didn’t have the time to take out the chakram.
“Gina, what do they want from us? I’m scared!” said the woman making attempts to fight the sobs that came to her throat.
“Listen, it won’t reflect credit on you if you attack a mentally handicapped woman and a child,” the girl stood before Xena as if to protect her from these men.
“Who are talking about credit? I’m talking about fun. How about you, lads?” asked the man his cronies, who started giggling.
The girl understood, she couldn’t persuade these guys to let them be and Xena would become their victim. Maybe she herself would become their prey. Gina would rather die than afford this to happen. Ignoring swords the girl tumbled for the backpack and in a second the chakram was in her hand. She had no idea how to use it against so many men, nevertheless, she was determined to fight till death.
“Run or I kill you all!” she warned them.
“With a disk?” asked the guy snorting.
Suddenly out of nowhere two voices were raised.
“It’s not fair! You were cheating from the very beginning!” shouted the boy.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” pronounced the blonde woman nonchalantly.
“Yes, you know! First, you took away all the food they had. Then you persuaded forest nymphs to make Xena follow them into the abyss. Now you brought these bastards here,” the boy enumerated all the accusation he noticed during these three days.
“They were heading west. I just helped them to cover this distance faster that’s all,” stated the woman as if it was self-evident.
“It is already the evening of the third day. I must give my proper respect to this girl, she made everything possible to make her mother survive. Previously, I was skeptical about her because, you know, she’s just a mortal human girl. She proved me wrong. Now do you want these criminals to kill them only to win a bet?” Phobos looked into his mother’s eyes to find the answer there.
Aphrodite shifted glance not to collide with her son’s strict glare full of hatred and regret. In one slow motion of her hand the men hastily took their horses and melted away. Only at this very moment Gina breathed out and put away the chakram.
“Turn her to normal,” demanded Phobos coming closer to Xena.
“It’s impossible. The spell will be removed tomorrow in the morning,” stated the goddess.
Xena looked at the two with her mouth open in delight.
“Thank you for not giving up,” Phobos extended his hand for Gina.
The girl nodded. She also extended her hand but was sure that it would go through the boy’s arm. It still seemed unreal for people to appear in midair even if they were gods. Phobos put his hand on her arm his fingers inches from her elbow as Greek did when they showed approval of something or said good bye to their friends. Gina looked at her arm in disbelief.
“Not at all,” she uttered and both gods immediately disappeared.
In the morning Gina woke up because somebody was shaking her by the shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m waking. There’s no need to shake the life out of me,” said the girl opening her eyes.
“Gina, what are we doing at Dakruon? We were heading north-east and now we are leagues to the south. How did it happen?” Xena sounded really stunned.
“What? Why?.. Do you remember anything that happened in these three days?” Now Gina seemed fully awake.
“Three days?! You mean three days have passed and I don’t have a hint about anything? But how?” Xena’s eyes became large as two plates.
“Ask your friend Aphrodite. It was her idea,” with these words Gina retold everything that took place in these three days.
“This is impossible,” the warrior princess couldn’t believe girl’s arguments.
“At least you understand now how I feel when I tell that I don’t remember anything that happened to me in the last ten years. I’m not even sure if there were ten years.” Gina stood up.
Girl’s words and realization that three days were wiped away from her memory made Xena look at the situation clearly and broadly, so to speak. Until this time she thought that Gina was trying to play with her, to invent things because the girl was afraid of something. Now she had the same feeling of confusion. Whole day long woman made idle attempts to cast mind back, to go over any details everything was in vain. Her mind represented a blank sheet of paper.
After a good, thorough dinner Gina unrolled her rag to sleep. She closed her eyes and didn’t move for several minutes until she opened the eyes again. Since morning the girl couldn’t get rid of the feeling that somebody is constantly staring at her. When she opened her eyes she met Xena’s gaze.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” asked the girl feeling like a fish out of water.
“Like what?” the woman deflected, though, she grasped what the girl was talking about.
“You’re looking at me like maybe I’m an angel underneath,” the girl spitted out.
“Like an angel? Interesting, where did you hear about them? They don’t belong to Greek beliefs,” told the woman.
“Oh, God,” Gina thought to herself. “What should I tell now?”
“Will you get angry if I tell you I don’t remember where I heard it?” said Gina apologizing for something.
“Why should I do that?” asked the warrior princess.
“You usually get angry if I can’t give you any reasonable response. What’s changed?” mumbled the girl.
“I’m sorry if I did that, sweetheart. Now everything has changed. I don’t remember any second of three previous days.”
“It’s not a surprise. You had a brain of a 4 year-old child. Do you remember much of your real life when you were a 4 year-old girl?” Gina chuckled.
“Of course, I remember when my father put me on his lap and we played patty-cake. I remember playing near the lake in the silt.” Xena travelled down memory line.
“Do you really remember those things or your mother told you about them?”
The woman thought to herself for a moment. Yes, her mother told a lot about those years she didn’t remember while being too little.
“Now when you asked I’m not sure anymore.” She confessed.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m glad that you’re back again. It is strange when adult is as vulnerable as a toddler. I think it refers to old people. They can behave like children sometimes,” stated Gina.
“You’re right. Thank you for taking care of me even if I can’t recall a thing. My mother said that I was a hellion in my childhood.” Xena smiled.
“Yeah, you can raise hell it’s obvious.” Gina smiled back. “Good night, Xena.”
“Good night, little one.”
Gina closed her eyes and once and for all slept peacefully not jumping in alert at any weird sound the night can utter.
“Xena, can you teach me how to get geographical bearings because as it turned out I’m geographically stupid,” said the girl. “Most of modern people will never find the north or the south without a GPS,” she thought to herself.
“Yes, sure. Travelling on your own made you want to learn some things, huh?”
“Definitely, if I’m lost in the woods I want to know where the north is in order to find my way out and not to go in circles.” Gina said seriously.
“I thought battle skills were more important,” teased Xena.
“Travelling with you survival is important as a whole and I mean it!” the girl pouted.
While riding and walking during the day Xena taught a lot of simple things but they were knew for Gina. In the modern world people don’t need to know how to survive in wilderness, only how to make money and be successful. With the warrior princess survival was the most important. Gina was thankful that at least she studied different styles of fighting and she understood very well when Xena showed one time how to do summer-saults, uppercuts, jabs and so on. In the world of fighting they understood each other without words. If Xena showed some movements with a stick Gina copied them at once.
“Remind me to buy a big parchment when we come to another city. I don’t remember a half of what you taught me today,” the girl said disappointed.
“Don’t worry, we’ll revise it tomorrow,” Xena assured her. “Now bring some brushwood for the fire. Today we’ll camp here.”
In the morning Gina woke up to the strange noise of kicks and hits. Xena was fighting with a group of soldiers or criminals. The girl wasn’t fully awake when somebody pulled her up by the hair and put a knife to her throat.
“Stop it or she’ll be dead!” the man, who grabbed Gina’s throat, commanded.
The girl couldn’t move. He pulled her hair back and the blade nearly scratched the neck.
“Xena, I’m not joking!” He threatened.
Gina gave a squeak because he pulled too hard.
The warrior princess stopped beating the men to a pulp.
“Earlier you destroyed villages now threaten children. It’s a progress, Duris,” said the woman sarcastically.
“Not long ago you destroyed villages as well. Ask common people they would remember Xena, the princess warrior merciful and deadly forever. You burned the houses to embers and killed all the men. I think they are grateful for everything you did.” He spitted out on the ground holding Gina tight.
“You’re right but I’ve changed. What do you need, Duris?” she asked him not making any attempts to snatch some kind of weapon. It was useless while the hunting knife’s blade was caressing Gina’s throat.
“You have three days to get me the shield of Ajax that is buried in the Alepotrypa cave,” ordered he.
“Are you crazy? The Alepotrypa cave is a day’s journey from here,” fumed Xena.
“That’s why I give you three days not one. At the dawn of the fourth day I’ll kill the girl,” he stated merciless.
“A lot of people wanted to get Ajax’s shield and no one came back. Why do you think I’m luckier?”
“Because you have a greater reason to come in one piece if, of course, the rumors are true and she is your daughter.” The man barked. “You better go right now. Time is pouring like sand. Don’t let her count the precious moments of her short and silly life.” The man pressed the blade harder to Gina’s skin and Xena noticed a drop of blood on it.