3,000 Years Ago

Chapter 23

While Xena was away performing exploits, Gina was playing with toddlers. She told them fairy tales about kings and queens of a faraway land. Kids really liked her. Suddenly, out of nowhere appeared an old blind woman and approached the girl. She had long, greasy, gray hair, her face resembled a very old prune and her eyes were almost white because of her blindness.

“You,” said the woman. “Your soul doesn’t belong to this body.”

“What?” Gina looked at the old woman standing from the bench she was sitting together with other kids. “How do you know?”

“Oh, I see. Old Greezelda can see beyond the flesh right into your soul. You aren’t Xena’s daughter. You’re a lost soul that entered the body she doesn’t need to be in.” woman continued chanting as if she was an oracle.

“Listen, do you know how to send me back?” The girl took this woman’s hand in hers to make her see that she was a real person in flesh and blood.

“Yes, I can. Are you ready to leave the people you’ve met here forever?” The woman touched girl’s face. The touch was gentle and motherly. Her rough, rigid fingers were soft and tender.

“If you help to place my soul in its own body, what will happen to the girl whose body I possess now?” asked the child.

“Her spirit will come back and she will finally be with her true mother,” promised the woman.

“May I say goodbye to Xena?” Gina pleaded. She didn’t want to go without waving a farewell to the greatest warrior of all the times.

“As you wish, but do you really think that she would let you go? She believes that you are her true child,” Greezelda looked with her blind eyes at Gina. Her stare was cold. The girl couldn’t read anything in these whitish, blank eyes.

Gina made a step back from the old woman.

“Do you want me to go with you without telling anyone? Who are you? Why should I believe some old lady who talks nonsense?” exclaimed the girl.

“You believed me because only I see the truth and you know it. Your spirit is younger than any spirit living in this world. I can feel it. You don’t belong to the place as well as to the time you got stuck in. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to. Let’s see what Xena will say.”

Xena and Cyane came to the town with trophies and captives. Everyone celebrated the victory that night, so, neither the girl nor the shaman wanted to spoil the good mood of all Amazon tribe.

The next day Cyane invited Xena and Gina in her house.

“Xena, you remember Greezelda, our shaman. She has a very delicate matter that requires handling as soon as possible,” spoke Cyane looking directly at Xena and the girl standing next to her.

“Of course, how could I forget the mighty shaman who helped me recover from the childbirth many winters ago,” nodded the princess warrior.

“Xena, the girl that you claim to be your daughter is possessed by the other spirit that shouldn’t be in this world in the first place,” said Greezelda.

“What?! You’re telling that Gina is not my child?! Cyane you told me that she resembles Gina a lot?!” Xena stared at the head of the Amazons.

“I didn’t say that she isn’t your child,” Greezelda corrected herself. “The body you see is your daughter’s body but not her soul. I raised Gina. I know her, I saw her spirit and I’m sure the soul that now is in her body isn’t hers,” stated the woman firmly. “I think you’ve noticed that but your motherly part doesn’t give you the opportunity to see the truth.”

“It’s bullshit! You only scare the child!” Xena hugged Gina with one hand to protect her.

“No, Xena, please, listen to her,” the girl pleaded.

She turned to Xena.

“Why don’t I remember anything that happened to me before I met you? Why I don’t recognize people even if they recognize me?”

“It’s not true. You recognized Cyane immediately as you saw her,” Xena reminded the girl their meeting with the leader of Amazons.

“It’s not because I saw her in childhood but because I watched her…” She wanted to say in the series but started to cough uncontrollably.

“Don’t try to say it, Gina. You’ll cough to death if you don’t stop trying to pronounce the words that don’t belong here,” the old woman said firmly. “It happens every time she wants to tell you the truth, doesn’t it?”

Xena remembered the moments when Gina was coughing like that without any reason. Now she believed. The mighty warrior was taking care of the child that wasn’t hers at all. The realization came as a bucket of cold water thrown at her. Xena shivered and flexed her jaw muscles not to make a sound. Though, she wanted to run away, howl as a wolf on the moon.

Instead she firmly pronounced: “What should I do to bring my child back?”

“Your daughter was initiated as an Amazon three months after her birth. Her spirit could be only in one place – the land of the dead,” said Cyane.

“Is it possible to free the soul of this girl and replace it with my daughter’s?” asked the woman warrior.

“It is very dangerous but there is a small chance,” replied Greezelda.

“Gina, would you like to return back? It is a scary journey for a child. If not, I understand,” Xena turned to the girl and took her small hands in hers.

“I thought, you won’t let me go,” Gina said softly her eyes full with tears.

“I don’t want to. Though, I won’t stay with you, I’m sorry,” replied the princess warrior

“I understand,” a tear dropped on the floor, “I also can’t be here anymore or I’ll go crazy.” She hugged the woman and tears streamed down her cheeks.

The ritual was long, savage and tiring. For the first time Gina drank blood with herbs and some kind of powder. It was disgusting and she nearly vomited it back but within seconds her body became numb and she lay on the floor of the hut unconsciousness. The journey to the other world began.

They reappeared in a vast, cold valley covered with shriveled grass and chilling wind.

“If this is the underworld, than I’m not fond of it,” said Gina.

“Holy spirits, look at you!” Greezelda stared at Gina in surprise.

Right in front of her was standing an 18 year old girl with dark brown hair and sparkling, brown eyes. She was a real beauty. Xena also was about 18 or 19. Greezelda wasn’t an old woman either. She was a lady in her twenties with long, chestnut, wavy hair, light green eyes and a pretty smile.

“Wow, why do we look differently?” asked Gina.

“Our spirits don’t have the same appearance as our bodies. Sometimes children’s souls can look as old men,” Greezelda grinned.

“But it is still not my world,” said the young woman.

“We need to find the gates to yours, it means we need to find the spirit of that little girl whose body you occupied,” explained the shaman.

“Let’s walk. We don’t have much time or neither of us will return back,” Xena concluded.

They came to a deep cave in the mountain. The entrance was covered with branches and roots of the trees.

Shaman and Xena touched it with no effect at all. Xena took out her sword to cut the wood from their path but when Gina approached the entrance the branches and roots gave way and three women entered the cave. They saw a valley lit with sunlight. Birds were singing in the trees, Xena heard children’s laugh and went forward to find out who were laughing there. It was the Amazon’s village as they have just come from. The same houses but other women greeted them.

“Greezelda, what are you doing here? Did your time come?” one of the Amazons hugged the shaman.

“No, not yet. We are looking for Xean’s daughter. Is she here?”

The Amazon looked Xena up and down obviously she was against the woman warrior.

“Why did you bring her here?” she asked nearly spitting at Xena’s form. “She left her child and didn’t give a damn about her for all these years until she died in slavery!”

“Listen, Agava. She didn’t know anything about her child for ten years but it doesn’t mean she didn’t think about her. Where’s Gina?” Greezelda stepped closer to the Amazon to look into her blue eyes. Nobody could stare in shaman’s eyes for long.

“Gina, come here. You need to see someone,” the woman called the girl.

A child of eight or nine years old ran to the women. She was wearing an Amazon’s dress and covered in dust because they were playing some kind of a war game. She was the copy of the body they left in the real world only smaller a little.

“Yes, Agava. What do you want?”

Xena smiled at this little girl. She was cute and naughty, and charming at the same time.

“Do you recognize this woman?” Agava asked the girl.

“No, she isn’t an Amazon, is she?” the child gazed at Xena.

“No, I’m not. I’m your mother,” told the warrior princess.

She squatted in front of the girl and stretched her arm to stroke child’s hair but the girl made a step back.

“Go away!” the spirit hissed. “I don’t wanna know you!”

“Gina, please, listen to me!”

“You abandoned me, you left me to die in the octagon. Where were you when they made me fight those teens, who were older than me? Where were you when they captured me and sold me to slavery?” The girl shouted.

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t have left you but you didn’t die, your body was possessed by another soul that shouldn’t be there. Look, Gina, if you come back with me, I promise I will never let you go. I will be with you every second of your life, please, little one, give me a chance to prove that I worth you.” Xena stretched her arms towards her daughter, tears ran down her cheeks. The girl was right. She was the only one guilty in everything that happened to her. “Please, give me another chance.”

“No, I’m happy here. I don’t want such a mother!” she shouted and wanted to run away but at this very moment Gina touched the girl’s shoulder trying to catch her. There was an explosion and everything went blank.

Very slowly Gina opened her eyes. She was lying in the hospital bed with tubes running from her arms and nose. She felt the warm touch of her father’s hand. The old man was sitting on the chair near her bed grieving over his daughter.

“Daddy,” she whispered.

“Gina?!” the man sprung to his feet and embraced her. “Gina, my little girl, I’m so glad to hear you. I thought I’ve lost you.”

“Dad, what happened?”

“Chris Cyborg knocked you out. You’ve been in coma for three days.”

“Three days? I thought it was longer. I’m so glad to be back.” She smiled at her father.

Xena opened her eyes. The body of Greezelda suffered from convulsion. Cyane tried to stop these uncontrollable movements. In three minutes Greezelda calmed down forever. The girl’s body was lying on the floor without sign of life. She was dead.

The next day Xena sang her long, mournful song. She set the fire to the lifeless little body and left the Amazon village.

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