A week has passed since Gina left the orphanage. It was a miracle that nothing has happened to them yet. In this world everything went so fast with so many events occurring at the same time that it seemed for the girl unreal. Gina realized that it was the end of summer and she has already spent nearly three months with the woman warrior who claimed to be her mother which wasn’t true for the girl but felt so real for Xena. The girl admitted she was lucky. She could have ended up with some boring farmers or rude tavern owners. As a child even with the adult wisdom she couldn’t have had such freedom as she had with Xena. She started to feel somehow connected to the woman. She has taken care of her for all this period of time and Gina wanted to be thankful for that, especially, after all the experience she gained during their travelling together.
“Come on, dreamer. We need to buy food and some warm clothes. We are going north and the weather is already changing,” said Xena helping Gina to dismount the horse.
It was very interesting to go shopping with Xena. She always chose the best things they needed and without bargaining with peddlers gave them the sum they asked for. Gina has never interfered in this process. She was far too shy to begin talking to strangers. Sometimes Xena gave her money to buy anything she wanted and the girl used it to buy candies, a new hairpin, pastry or flowers. Gina was a real girly girl not as warrior like as Xena. She liked pretty things, though, was reasonable not spending money for things they couldn’t take in their journey. She cared for Argo too much to make the horse carry heavy or unnecessary things. Today Xena and Gina have bought two winter coats with hoods, changed their light blankets to some woolen ones, some extra clothes made of wool and cotton and food that they would need for a two week trip to the Northern Amazons.
“Yeah,” said the woman from under the blanket.
They were already supposed to be asleep in their beds at the local tavern before the tomorrow’s final part of the journey.
“What if nobody lives there anymore? Or the Amazons will say that I’m not your daughter?” asked the girl.
“Ginnie, we have to come to the place to see what’s there. When we see it, we’ll understand how to proceed,” Xena’s voice repeated wearily. She was tired and wanted to sleep.
“If I’m really not the child you think I am, what would you do?” Gina insisted.
“I’ll burry you under the tree,” she made a joke.
“No, I’m serious!” Gina pouted in the darkness.
“I’ll leave you with Amazons. They know how to bring up a naughty child,” she answered.
“So, you’ll get rid of me. I see,” she whispered more disappointed than sad to hear the truth.
“Gina, go to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow and even longer week to find out the truth.”
The silence fell in the room.
A long, tiresome week was spent going through a vast, inhospitable steppe. Gina has already forgotten when the last time her clothes were dry because it constantly drizzled with gusts of strong wind blowing into their faces. Each time in the evening they made a fire to eat some warm game Xena managed to find even in this partially deserted place. No villages or people appeared on their way. The steppe was extensive and unfriendly. Only Xena could survive in such hostile conditions but Gina didn’t complain. She didn’t want the woman warrior think that she was just a little child. She needed to be strong, to show Xena that she’s worth travelling with.
In the end of the second week Argo entered a sparse wood. Riding for several hours Gina noticed that Xena prepared to attack whatever might jump at them from the bushes.
“Is something wrong?” the girl asked the woman.
She tried hard to see something through the branches of the trees but was unsuccessful.
“Yes, we’ve been followed,” Xena told in a low voice.
“By whom?” Gina whispered trying to be as silent as she could.
Xena stopped Argo, took off her sword and dropped it on the ground.
“We came with peace,” she heralded.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, from nearby trees and bushes came an amount of women with bows, swords and knives in their hands.
“Why should I trust Xena: warrior princess,” greeted the woman with long sandy hair.
“Cyane?!” Gina pronounced looking at the woman who stood on the ground.
The girl recognized this woman from the movie. According to the series she had to be dead but here she stood in all her proud glory of a forest warrior.
“And who are you?”
“Gina, my daughter,” said Xena.
“I can only thank Gods that you have found her. You both are welcome in our village,” Cyane nodded.
Gina cursed herself for words that escaped her lips. Still the woman didn’t completely recognize her maybe the world would stop playing tricks on her and finally she would know for sure what of the two worlds was her real home? Living for a long time in this particular universe she started to doubt her memories about the twenty first century.
Cyane welcomed them with open arms which was definitely amazing because the story that Gina remembered was far from being a wonderful fairy tale for children. Though, here she was in flesh and blood, with mostly old and some middle age women by her side. There were a bunch of children in the village, not as many as the girl expected to see.
Xena was invited in Cyanne’s hut while Gina had to spend lunch time in a company of some old women, three girls and seven boys who were from 2 to 4 years old. It wasn’t the company she wanted to be in. Nevertheless, the girl knew well enough the subordination between Amazons and didn’t want to argue. She was tired. The only idea that came to her mind was to dry the clothes and eat something warm even if it weren’t very tasty.
Xena also noticed drastic changes in the community. There were a few new houses. Old ones were repaired but it was vivid that the tribe of Northern Amazons was reduced in half. The food that they offered was simple and not too nutritious. Women servants put on the table mostly vegetables, a tiny rabbit for the queen and her guest. Bread was made of grass and roots rather than from flour.
“Cyane, how come that I’ve found Gina in Rome?” Xena couldn’t help but ask this painful question.
“Six winters ago Romans came here. My people fought well. Many of them died in the battle. Caesar thought I fell in the battle. I had really been between life and death for four long months after the raid,” she showed the warrior woman a purple scar that began at her left breast and went down to the right hip. “They took beautiful women and all children to sell them at the slave market. Our village was burnt to ashes except for the two houses that you saw. They killed those who resisted. I was wounded. I couldn’t have done much for my people. Yiara had been taken care of me for that agonizing time when I wanted to be dead rather than live. After some time when I could clearly think, Caesar and his army marched away. There wasn’t much of a chance for me to find the women and bring them back. I decided to keep what was left of the mighty Amazons of the North. I still mourn over the sisters who were taken from us that day.”
“Yes, I see. Revenge didn’t do anyone any good. I understand you made a right choice.” Xena agreed. She knew what Caesar was up to, that’s why she couldn’t blame the Amazon for not taking proper care of her child. The warrior princess understood too intimately how it was to face Caesar’s wrath. She wasn’t afraid of him, though.
“How did you find her?”
“By chance, I suppose. I was travelling through the Roman Empire when in one small town I found a girl who was beaten by a bunch of kids too heads taller than she was. She is with me since then.” Xena smiled as memories of Gina’s black and blue face came to her mind.
“Yeah, she also was a fierce girl even at the age of three. Always wanted to play with older kids and sometimes became too annoying for them not to notice her.”
“Did you recognize her?” Xena still doubted that Cyane was able to recognize the child after six years.
“Of course, the same piercing stare, dimples on her cheeks and her mother’s charming smile. I think the same stubbornness and misbehavior,” Cyane chuckled.
“Yeah, sometimes she can be quite unruly,” the woman agreed. “I see you have problems with food supply. Why?”
“Roman mercenaries ravage nearest villages. Now they’ve shot all game in our forest. We don’t let them come close to our village but I don’t think that would be for long. There are too many of them. They already took all the harvest we wanted to gather in autumn. We still have berries and roots gathered in the wilderness. This won’t be enough to feed people in winter,” she confessed.
“Are you going to do anything about that?” asked Xena.
“I want to apply their tactics on them. As you see population of Amazons has been cut in half. Despite this, one of my women is worth ten of their soldiers. We try to divide them and then penetrate their camp to kill as many bastards as we can. Those who will be captured will serve us as slaves. You know what we do to men.” Cyane winked and explained Xena her plan more thoroughly.
The next day Xena together with Amazons prepared everything for the grand plan. Gina spent time with toddlers and elderly instead of being in the thick of things. The girl tried hard to remember at least anything from her previous life here with Amazons but her mind was blank. No ideas, or pictures, or slightest memories, only about Alti slaughtering this tribe together with Xena and nothing else left. It was like being an Alice in Wonderland. Everything was out of place, absurd and annoying. The girl started to get used travelling with Xena. So, she accepted her fate, a fate of a person with a complete amnesia, who by some kind of miracle had the memories of another person. That was unusually stupid but true.
Gina was so hurt and lost that she didn’t opposed Xena when the next day she told the girl to hide with toddlers and elders in the forest while her mother would be fighting cruel Romans. Gina didn’t mind.
Cyane led the Amazons into battle. She separated them in three groups. One came right into the enemy’s camp. This group was headed by Xena. Women put on their most frivolous dresses to play on male’s most common instincts. They brought food and drinks with them to make Romans think that one of the villages would like to surrender to the aggressors. They were invited into commander’s tent.
While Xena played her role of a courtesan Cyane and Rikka attacked the camp from two different directions. The Romans didn’t expected an attack during the day when third of them were demolishing the nearest village, others were having rest or preparing for another raid. Without hesitation Amazons cut men’s throats, killed them with arrows and killed soldiers with daggers and swords but not for long. They made the men follow them into the woods. At the same time Xena was methodically slaughtering the whole overhead personnel with commander himself. After that she went out followed by other women waiting for this revenge.
In three hours one Roman battalion was eliminated from the face of the Earth. A hundred died in the forest, a hundred sank in a swamp where they followed a dozen of Amazon women. Xena killed everyone in the camp and set the nearest village free. Two dozens were captured. The plan worked well. Caesar’s army was cut from its supply point again. Justice was finally served.