Part 25 & 26 / Part 27 & 28 / Part 29 & 30
By Shelly Quinn
"Concentrate.." Mortiana whispered. She stood to one side of the room, watching Robin, as he formed an energy ball in his hand. It worried her that he did it so easily, for he was clearly distracted, yet the magic formed at his bidding. It had taken her a three years to perfect magic balls, Robin did it naturally. That meant that his powers were even greater than she had believed.
"Who is Marcus?" Robin asked, his eyes flickering over to Mortiana. He had wanted to ask the question sooner, but had fallen asleep after the creatures disappearance, only to be awakened by Mortiana. She had pulled him to his feet to begin his lessons.
Mortiana's eyes glimmered with fear at the name. "He is the purest evil!" she hissed. "That is all you need to know for now, Robin Hood. Concentrate on your lesson, or we stand no chance of defeating him."
Robin sighed, then looked down at the energy in his hands. It felt warm and prickly. "What now?" he asked.
"Put as much power into it as you can," Mortiana directed.
Then she turned to point down the long corridor that was behind them.
It was shielded by magic, so Robin could practice his skills without doing any damage. The magic aura pulsed about them, it was so strong. Mortiana waved one hand and made a two foot thick wall of stone appear about fifty feet away. "Destroy it," she instructed.
"As you wish," Robin replied. He drew back his arm then hurled the energy ball at the wall. It struck the stone and shattered it into dust, but that was not all it did. All of the sudden the glowing, pulsing, magic shield faded.
Mortiana was stunned. "Oh my!" she gasped. "Do you see what you have done?"
Robin stared at her in confusion. "What?" he asked.
"Two days.." Mortiana muttered beneath her breath. "It's not enough time."
"It will be enough!" Olwyn's voice thundered in the air, echoing about just before he appeared in a shimmer of silver sparks. He looked down at the corridor, then he glared at Mortiana. "Robin's powers are stronger than we could have guessed, but he will need this strength."
Moving to confront his mentor, Robin decided it was time for answers. "All right, Olwyn. Enough!" he declared. "Who is Marcus, and what does he want with me? And....why didn't you tell me that I had...powers?" That was a question that had been haunting him. A part of Robin felt betrayed.
Olwyn sighed, on hand reaching out to grasp Robin's shoulder. "I did not tell you of your powers because it was not time yet. Or so I believed. Fate has intervened, Robin. Perhaps it is for the best. Marcus would have come for you anyway, only now you stand a chance to defeat him."
"What does he want?" Robin countered, his eyes locked on Olwyn's face and seeing fear shimmering in the other man's gaze. A fear that Robin could almost feel.
"Now you must concentrate on learning to control your powers," Olwyn replied. "I will tell you of Marcus soon enough." Olwyn's fingers tightened on Robin's shoulder. "Listen to me carefully, young man. I taught you to listen to your heart, and temper it with your instincts. That is wisdom. Do not forget that, yet let it go for now. You must learn to use your powers without emotion. For emotion can destroy you. Do you understand?"
Robin shook his head. "No...I don't," he confessed. "Olywn...I don't understand any of this. How I can have these powers...how to control them. I don't want them." Robin knew he was sounding petulant and whiny, like a small child. But he had been through so much in the past few weeks, and his mind and body were exhausted. Yet he was being told that he had two days to learn to control powers that were greater than Olwyn's and Mortiana's combined, and that some creature was coming for him in two days. Yet he didn't know why. And, at this point, Robin really didn't care. He was about to add a few more complaints, when his body stiffened and he collapsed to the floor.
"Robin!" Olwyn shouted, dropping to kneel beside his student.
"No!" Robin hissed, waving one hand at Olwyn to keep his mentor away. He knew that if the magician touched him now, he would die. Pure energy was rippling through Robin, he could feel it burning in his blood like white-fire, and his skin tingled. But that was not all he felt. Deep within him was a presence. It wasn't like when Zusa had invaded his body, it was more a merging of his soul to another's. "Marcus.." Robin breathed. And in that moment he heard the creature's voice in his head.
"Come to me, Robin.." Marcus invited. "I will explain all to you...and I will teach you to use your powers as they were intended to be used. Come to me, and we will be invincible."
Robin moaned as pain washed over him. He struggled to his knees, then concentrated on answering back. "Who are you?" Robin demanded.
Marcus laughed, deep inside Robin's head. "I am all that is good and evil combined. I am your destiny, Robin Hood. Come to me."
"No..." Robin repeated, then he focused all of his concentration on expelling Marcus' presence. He felt a flash of pain that made him cry out in agony, and then there was a blinding white light which filled the chamber. A moment later it faded, and Marcus went with it.
"Robin..." Olwyn whispered, reaching out to grab the broad shoulders when the young man would have toppled over. He brushed sable hair out of Robin's face, then touched the sweat-dampened skin. Robin was burning up. "Get some water!" Olwyn shouted to Mortiana.
She knew what he meant. Not mere spring water, but the water of Desderada. Magic water. The only thing that would soothe Robin's fever, for it was magic induced. His own powers were burning him up inside. With a wave of one hand, Mortiana disappeared.
Olwyn lifted Robin into his arms and carried him back into the main chamber. He could have used his magic to bring them there, but that would have only caused more damage. Even holding Robin, Olwyn could feel the tingling of power that emanated from his pupil.
"Forgive me," Olwyn whispered, as he lay Robin down on a fur covered pallet.
"I'm sorry…" Robin said softly, as he felt Olwyn's hand smooth back his hair.
"Sorry..." Olwyn repeated, a frown marring his face. "For what, Robin?"
Closing his eyes to hold back tears, Robin replied, "I have failed you, Olwyn." He felt certain that he would not be able to control his powers and defeat whatever evil Marcus represented. He just didn't have the strength of either his body or his will.
Olwyn blinked back tears of his own as he pressed his palm to Robin's face. "You have never failed me," he said firmly. "You couldn't...even if you tried. Rest, Robin," Olwyn beseeched. "We'll begin again in a few hours." But even as he watched Robin's labored breathing ease as slumber claimed him, Olwyn knew that time was precious to them. And he began to have doubts. This time, Robin might not be able to save anyone...not even himself.
End of Part 25
Robin slept but not a restful sleep. The fear he felt deep inside reflected in his dreams. He had faced many adversaries in his young life and had won out over them, but this was different. This was not of this world and Robin was very uncertain what world it was from. In his dream he could see the fire blazing in Marcus' eyes, the voice echoing through his head..
"Robin....Robin Hood. Your destiny is with me. You WILL be mine"
"No! I will die before I allow you to claim me" Robin shouted back but this brought Olwyn and Mortiana to his bedside.
"Wake up Robin" Olwyn shook his young friend fearing that Robin was crossing the fine line between dreams and reality.
"No"! Robin again shouted feeling the heat return inside him and woke sitting upright covered in a sheen of sweat.
"He was here again" Robin said looking at Olwyn.
"I know. He is trying to wear you down Robin. He is not allowing you the sleep you need to maintain your health and when you are worn down, he will take you" Olwyn said softly.
"What can we do"? Robin pleaded bowing his head.
"Just what you are doing, continue to fight him every chance you get. He cannot think you are an easy mark lad" Olwyn returned clenching his fist.
"And NEVER allow him to touch you Robin" Mortiana finished.
Olwyn swung around to look her in the eyes. "He has the right to know Olwyn" she said softly.
"What else are you keeping from me"? Robin said in a strained voice. Perhaps it was because he was so exhausted, perhaps it was because he was beginning to feel defeated before he even waged battle-but Robin was not taking any more excuses and when Olwyn looked into his eyes, it was obvious.
"Robin, I feared telling you all the details as it can be a bit...overwhelming"
Olwyn started slowly.
"If I have a day before I confront this beast, I will need to know every possible detail about the one I am to confront" Robin sighed sensing their hesitancy still.
"Robin, he is not just a beast" Mortiana whispered turning away from Robins intense gaze.
"What is he"! Robin said nearly shouting.
"He is the Prince of Darkness" Olwyn said firmly.
"What exactly do you mean"...Robin said looking up slowly into Olwyn’s eyes.
"He is Satan himself" Olwyn whispered. There. It was said. Olwyn stood waiting for Robin’s reaction.
Robin stood looking at Olwyn and Mortiana yet not looking at them but past them. Finally he took a couple of steps backwards and sat down on the pallet burying his face in his hands.
"Now I am to battle Satan" Robin said more as if it exhausted him to even speak the words, "Olwyn-no matter how great you think my powers to be how can I go up against the Prince of Darkness"?
"If this is your destiny, and you are the chosen one, you will be able to succeed" Olwyn said trying to smile but failing.
Robin laid back on the pallet putting his hands behind his head. "And if he touches me"?
"You will burn instantly" Mortiana finished.
"And if I choose not to fight him"?
"He will rule the world" replied Olwyn matter-of-factly.
"And if I fight him and win"?
"Things will go back to the way they were before. There will still be dark days, but Marcus will not be the supreme ruler" Olwyn walked over and sat on the edge of the pallet seeing tears filling Robins eyes yet he would not allow himself to cry.
"I know you can handle this Robin, you ARE the chosen one" Olwyn was trying to comfort his student yet it upset Robin all the more knowing there was no way around this battle. It wasn’t the fear of loss of life that bothered Robin, more the fear of loosing and Satan having total rule over the world. "One days time" Robin mumbled closing his eyes, "I go to war with the devil himself in one days time" and with this he began to drift off to sleep.
"And you will be ready, if it kills me...and it might" whispered Olwyn covering Robin with a fur blanket.
Marion, Tuck and Little John spent the day sitting around the compound silently staring at each other.
"We can’t just sit here," Marion said throwing a piece of bread harshly onto the plate.
"There must be something we can do," chimed in Little John.
"Olwyn said he needs time alone to train" Tuck said rationally.
"Train for what"? Little John asked not really sure he wanted the answer.
Just then the ground began to shake and in the distance smoke poured up from the ground. The three friends jumped to their feet backing away from the lava that now oozed from the earth pouring towards them. A column of fire appeared above the lava and seemed to hover momentarily before beginning to move towards them.
"Tuck! What is it"? screamed Marion above the noise.
"I don’t know, but it is nothing we can battle...RUN"! Shouted Tuck.
The three ran in different directions around fleeing compound residents. Marion stumbled over a root and as she went to jump back up she saw that the column had taken form. The form of a large man with a goats head. She cried out in horror but it was too late, the creature was headed towards her and she could not get to her feet in time.
"You are Marion" she heard, but in her head.
"Yes, why" she spoke in return.
"Then you come with me" hissed the creature and with that, the two vanished. Tuck and Little John stood in a clearing watching back at what had transpired in total horror.
"What was that" whispered Tuck, knowing no answer would be forthcoming.
End of Part 26
Part 25 & 26 / Part 27 & 28 / Part 29 & 30
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