“Where will we meet?” asked the woman taking Argo’s bridle.
“We’ll wait for you in Trigolis,” replied the man still holding Gina firmly.
“Gina, I’ll come for you no matter what! Duris, if only one single hair falls down from her head because of you or your men, you all will die a durable and painful death!” Xena warned the man and trotted away.
These men weren’t as gentle as Balius and Janus were. Duris ordered to tie up her hands before her and bound the rope to his saddle. Poor girl had to go as fast as she could to keep pace with the horse. She was strong but still a ten year old girl. In the end of the second hour of going too fast Gina stumbled and fell. Of course the rope dragged her immediately after the horse. Bandits just laughed. They have been watching for some time when the horse dragged her along. It was at least entertainment for them in this march back to the village. The chieftain gave his men time to admire the view and only then stopped his horse. Both Gina’s arms and knees were severely scratched by small stones. Little trashes appeared on her dress. The girl gulped a lot of dust while she was dragged like a rug doll. She didn’t shed a tear, though. These men were douchebags and she wouldn’t give them the opportunity to boost their ego.
Little drops of blood emerged on each small scratch the girl had. One of the men helped her stand on feet and untied the rope that connected her to the horse.
“Why? Won’t you cry for mommy?” jeered the man.
“There is nothing to cry about. She won’t blame me for a ruined dress.” Gina said in a calm voice trying not to show how hurt she was.
“Duris, she says it’s not enough!” the man smirked.
“Hexus, stop the bleeding. If someone wants to ease nature, do it here. We won’t have a break for about three more hours,” stated Duris.
Xena rode like a grim death winging Argo to run as speedy as possible. She made ten minute breaks just to water the mare and again went like blazes. In the end of the day the mare became balky. Argo rebelled and even stopped short refusing to obey. Xena wanted to hit the mare because of rage and maybe fear that she wouldn’t be back on time but she didn’t do it when she saw Argo’s pleading eyes.
“I’m sorry, Argo,” she gently patted the mare’s neck, “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just know Duris too well. He killed a lot of people for no reason at all. I shouldn’t be so harsh on you today. I understand that you’re tired. Let’s get the best meadow ever for you.”
Very dearly the warrior princess unsaddled the mare and took her to the nearest glade with high grass. Just now when her stomach started to make gurgling sounds Xena realized that she didn’t eat anything today. She opened the saddle bag, took out a textile bundle with rabbit meat that she grilled yesterday in the evening. The day was hot and meat began to reek slightly. It was the only food she had. So, without any appetite Xena ate the rabbit thinking about days when she was leading the army of outlaws to rob villages in order to march to the east. Duris was one of her commanders. Once he killed half of the women and children in the village because villagers kidnapped and executed his brother. Those days she didn’t pay much attention to it. Her legs, broken by Caesar, hurt badly and she hadn’t met the Borias yet. The princess warrior was wild, furious and merciless. She hated humanity and humanity bit back.
In the evening Gina enjoyed all the delights of civilization as a cell 3x4 meters, a stop-pail and a pallet. The only barred window was too high and too small for her to see anything outside. It was cold because the cell was situated half underground and in her summer dress Gina felt really uncomfortable. Besides, she ate today only a piece of stale bread and water. The girl thanked god, though, she wasn’t in Europe of the Middle Age with plague and different diseases. Europeans didn’t have any sense of personal hygiene. Ancient Greeks also knew half of it but still they washed themselves a little bit more than aristocracy in Europe in the Middle Age period. Gina didn’t know what to do. The wooden door was heavy and locked. The window was too small to get through even if she could jump that high. The walls were made of stones. The men she travelled with weren’t the charming type and they didn’t care if she was a child or not. Tears won’t melt their stone hearts. The girl didn’t know what to do and there wasn’t much to do in this cell where she has been for more than 6 hours as she presumed because they came to this village approximately at midday. If she read well the signs of shadows, that Xena taught her. As she had nothing to do Gina began to sing to feel warmer.
“I’m a princess cut from marble, smoother than a storm.
And the scars that mark my body, they’re silver and gold,
My blood is a flood of rubies, precious stones,
It keeps my veins hot, the fire’s found a home in me.
I move through town, I’m quiet like a fight,
And my necklace is of rope, I tie it and untie”.
“Oh, we’ll see tonight what kind of princess you are,” commented one of the criminals outside who heard the lyrics. He grinned wickedly as if being up to something.
It was dark in the cell. Dim light from the moon scarcely illuminated the prison the girl was in. Gina was deep asleep when she felt hands on her body. Somebody touched her in very private places. In an instant the girl woke up and tried to shake away the hands.
“Come on, don’t be obstinate you’ll like it,” said the man trying to rip away her undergarments.
Gina was so overwhelmed that instinctively she grabbed two of his fingers and moved them backwards elbowing the man by her left arm in the nose. She slipped out of the laying position still grabbing his hand making it go behind his back in a very uncommon way. Next she hammered his head with her knee letting him drop to the ground. With one more jab the man was lying unconscious on the ground. The adrenaline rushed through Gina’s veins. The door was open she hurried to it but another man appeared on her way and grabbed her as she tried to get pass him. He squeezed her shoulders but her feet were free. The girl stomped on his toes, he eased the grip. She writhed herself free kicked the poor guy in groin. The latter bended and was caught by a nice elbow in the back of his neck. The second one dropped to the ground like a sack. Nonetheless, she wasn’t lucky. Two men with swords came at her.
“Damn it! You don’t bring a knife to a gun-fight,” Gina thought to herself. She lost this game.
“What is going on here?” a voice thrilled through the hall.
“The girl, she got out!” Two men answered at the same time.
“Oh, how would she have done it if you had the key?” asked the bearded man pushing the guards away.
“She knocked Eugenius out!” reported the man.
“Who ripped you dress, girl?” asked the bearded man.
Only now Gina realized that she had a long trash on the dress that went up her thigh.
“The man came in and began pawing me,” her voice was trembling of fear and anger.
The knocked out criminal in the hall started to move but the one in the cell who Gina took care of didn’t move, thought, was breathing slightly.
“Take him away! If Kleon ever comes here again to molest a child, I would release him from his manhood. Did everyone get it?!” barked the old man.
“Yes, captain,” both men responded in unison.
“Nobody will hurt you, child, until you’re under my responsibility.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The blood reappeared again at the scratches on her arms and knee.
“I’ll bring you some water to bathe those scratches.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Gina couldn’t close her eyes that night. At every rustle the girl stood in alert listening attentively if somebody was heading down the hall towards the cell. She was hungry, cold and scared. She thought about multiple cases of children molested in real life who don’t know how to fight back, who are vulnerable and frightened all the time the door opens and their executioner comes in. Gina wasn’t shy. She slept with man before in reality where she was a 32 year old lady but it was hard to imagine having sex when you were just a ten year-old kid.
Next morning Xena entered Alepotrypa cave. It was silent when she slowly went step by step along the corridor. Suddenly the way ended abruptly into a wide river of lava. To cross to the other side Xena needed to walk on a narrow natural bridge over lava. The ceiling was covered with ugly pointed rocks ready to fall on her head. Coming off the bridge the woman stepped on a stone that brought into action a strange mechanism of spins coming from the floor. She made a summersault only to get into a snare. The rope hanged her from the 16 feet high ceiling.
“How nice!” She grumbled.
She cut the rope with chakram making turning leap and landing on her feet. The princess warrior approached a narrow corridor, entered it and made several passes when suddenly the walls started moving towards each other. She did back handsprings and tucks to get to the end of this tunnel as quick as possible. The woman stopped abruptly at the edge because there was a deep abyss in front of her. The only possible way to the other side was by the roots of trees that were hanging from the ceiling.
“The further the better,” muttered Xena, “No wonder, nobody could get the damn shield!”
Swinging on the roots of trees and thinking of falling every time she reached the other root. At last she came to the other side and entered the room where the shield was together with other worthy things as jewelry and golden coins. Xena’s attention attracted other precious thing which she took with her.
The way out wasn’t easy either. She had to cut the way from a narrow cave covered by the roots of trees. Xena moved some stones because the entrance to another corridor was blocked. She was nearly pierced by arrows when she lamely stumbled on the rock but finally the warrior left the cave in one piece with Ajax shield but it was already dark outside.
The next day the door to Gina’s cell opened and the man asked her to come with him.
“Yesterday you beat my man. He just recovered with a tremendous headache. Explain yourself,” barked Duris looking curiously at the child.
“He was pawing me. I defended. That’s all.” She said firmly.
“That’s all?” The commander chuckled. “Look at her! That’s all!” The men nearby began to laugh. “You’re how old nine or ten, little pimple?”
“About ten, I think.” Gina shrugged her shoulders.
“Kleon is 30. How could you possible knock him out and not only him! Eugenius also suffered from your attack.”
“What do you exactly want to know?” inquired Gina.
“How can a ten year old beat an adult man?” spoke Duris.
“It was unexpected for them. It’s the only way I could win.” She explained.
“Show me!” The man insisted.
“It would be a suicide. Now they are aware what I’m capable of. I can’t withstand an adult man. It’s impossible.”
“Hexus, catch her!” ordered Duris.
The man did it easily because the child stood still looking at everyone as if they were insane.
“What now?” asked the man because he didn’t expect it to be so easy.
“Resist him!” barked Duris.
“I can’t, he’s too strong!”
“Resist him or I order my men to play with you whole day long and they won’t play childish games, believe me.” The man spitted.
“I won’t do that!” the girl hissed stomping at man’s ankle with all her might.
The moment he eased the grip his groin exploded from a strait elbow into it. The girl swirled away jumping on his neck and taking it into scissors grip by her legs trying to dislocate his arm from the shoulder by spreading it. When she realized that he is setting free, the girl kicked him hard in the face and rolled backwards on her feet in one long jump poking him in the nose. The man didn’t have enough time to stand up properly as she kicked him in the chin making a back flip Xena taught her. Man theatrically fell on his back with cranky knees.
“Now can I eat?” she asked innocently.
Duris applauded as all the men did.
“Give her a meal. She deserves it.”
Two men took Gina away.
“This girl is a real treasure. She used all the weak points a male body has. I think I sell her for a fortune to a Roman ludus.” Duris told his assistant.