Part 31 & 32 / Part 33 & 34 / Part 35 & 36
Lord Drake found himself suspended from a cage over an open pit of flames.
He couldn't feel the heat, but he could sense that the fire was magical.
Where he was, or how long he had been there, the Earl did not know. Nor
had he seen the witch again. Hard to believe that she was Robin's Aunt.
Then again, maybe not so surprising. Lord Drake sat in one corner, knees
drawn up to his chest, waiting. He knew that Robin would come for him,
but a part of him wished that it weren't so. Robin had suffered enough.
Using his newfound powers, Robin was able to tap into his Aunt's location. She had taken up residence in the Ruin's of Loch McDougal. It was an Ancient Keep said to have been forged by magic. Robin wondered just how true the legends were, and whether or not that would be in his favor.
He was still feeling weak, but fought off the occasional wave of dizziness that washed over him. There was no time to rest. Robin knew how deep Alice's hatred for him went. She would not hesitate to kill Lord Drake if she thought it would make him suffer, and Robin had no intention of letting that happen. So it was with a determined glint in his dark eyes, that Robin rode into the ruins. He dismounted, and locked his knees when his legs threatened to buckle. Taking only his sword and dagger with him, Robin entered the Keep.
Alice was watching for him, using a magic bowl of water to follow Robin's image. She was ready for him. "Come in, Nephew," Alice drawled. "Come and play with me." Throwing back her head, the witch bellowed with laughter.
Hearing the echo of maniacal mirth, Robin shook his head. "Well hello, Aunt," he whispered. Knowing that she would have booby-trapped the place, Robin was ready for anything. Or so he hoped. His spirit and his heart were strong, but his body kept reminding him that it was weak. Still, Robin was determined not to give in to that weakness. "Mind over matter," he muttered to himself.
"Just like you taught me, Olwyn." With that thought in mind, Robin moved forward,
He passed through a crumbling archway to find himself in the dining chamber. It had once housed a hundred Lords, Knights and ladies in one sitting, but now it was decayed rubble. Robin peered about him. To his left were three doors. "What's behind door number one," Robin said out loud, even as he crossed the floor. He remembered the Abbey where his Aunt was once the Abbess, and the doors there had led to strange places. On one or two occasions, Robin had barely survived. But he didn't hesitate when he reached the door. He pushed it open and stepped inside.
It was entering a dream. A silvery fog drifted about him and Robin waved his hands in front of him to disperse it. Once his eyes were able to focus, he saw that he was in a forest. Not Sherwood, but someplace mystical. The trees and lush grass seemed to shimmer, and the sky was too perfect a sapphire blue to be real. "Now what?" Robin mused, as he moved forward. But even as he asked, riders on horseback appeared. All of them big men, carrying big weapons. Robin grimaced. "Be careful what you ask for," he chided himself, even as he drew his sword from his back.
The five goliath's dismounted, then circled Robin. Then, without warning, they all attacked at once. Robin knew his sword would be useless, so he tossed it into the air. Then he did a back flip, taking him out of the circle. Robin then caught his sword and cleared his throat. "Gentlemen," he drawled. Then laughed as they all turned as one to face him. But Robin was no fool. He knew that he wasn't strong enough to defeat them, even had he not been exhausted. So he used his alternative weapon. His powers. Tapping into the
Life force deep inside him, Robin summoned a magic ball and threw it at the giant's. It landed at their feet then shattered, engulfing them all in a wave of white magic. They screamed in agony as they dissolve.
Robin was tired of games. He threw back his head and shouted. "Is that the best you can do, Aunt?"
"Nephew.." Alice drawled, as she appeared before him. She had been working on her powers since last they had met, but was not prepared to learn that Robin had powers as well. He was very strong.
"Where's my Father?" Robin demanded, his eyes flashing gold sparks. He wasn't in the mood to waste time.
Alice didn't reply. Instead she walked a slow circle around Robin, noting his longer hair and that he had added a few muscles. The boy had truly become a man. "You look scrumptious, nephew..." Alice drawled. "Forest dwelling certainly becomes you."
Robin sighed. "Look. Let's cut to the chase, Aunt. Shall we? You're mad at me for destroying your wicked sisters and taking all your wealth. So....you've kidnapped Lord Drake to get revenge on me." Robin paused to quirk an eyebrow at her, his head tilting to one side and lock of sable hair falling across his cheek. "How am I doing so far?" he queried, sarcasm coloring his soft tone.
"Quite good," Alice allowed, a smirk curving her own lips. "I do want revenge, nephew. At least, I did. But....now that I see you have come into some powers of your own, I was thinking maybe we could....join forces?"
"When donkeys fly," Robin shot back, genuine mirth bubbling out of him. "I'm good, you’re evil. It's like oil and water. We just don't mix." Robin took a step towards his aunt. "So...now that we've done the amenities thing and determined that we shall forever remain...enemies...let's part friends. Give me Lord Drake and I'll let you live." Robin grinned at his aunt, and a devilish light twinkled in his eyes.. "See...I'm willing to play nice."
Alice was not so willing to play fair. Certainly not by Robin's self-righteous rules. "You will join with me, Nephew!" she hissed. "Or your...father...Lord Drake...will burn for all eternity. You've got till the count of three to decide. One....two...."
End of part 31
"Wait...wait..."Robin said hurrying forward, "I am sure we can work out something
"I see you can appreciate the gravity of the situation" Alice said looking up from under thick eyelashes. She walked forward standing behind Robin, wrapping her arms around him slipping one hand into his tunic.
"And your powers. Perhaps we can work out an amiable settlement" Robin said returning her evil smile, "That is if my father can leave this place here and now. We have no need of him"
He finished walking towards the cage suspended over the flames. As he approached Lord Drake he looked into the older mans eyes and smiled and gave a wink so quick as only for him to see. He sat back relieved to be included in his sons plans. The closer Robin got to the flames the more he began to feel his blood boil again as it had earlier. He shook off these reoccurring feelings and continued towards Lord Drake extending an index finger towards the lock on the cage door. Rapidly a lightening bolt shot from the end of his finger striking the lock disintegrating it on contact. Slowly the door swung open and Lord Drake walked to the door. Robin continued closer ready to assist his father down when dizziness again washed over him.
Immediately he noticed the tie in the flames had on his stability.
Holding on to a stone pillar, he steadied himself much to Alice's delight.
"So, nephew, you DO have a weakness" she said with an evil cackel. Lord Drake slowly lowered himself from the cage into Robins awaiting arms. His strong son gently set him down on the ground leaning against him mumbling for him to quietly hold him up as his knees were folding under him. "No, Auntie, you will find no weakness here" Robin replied to her intense gaze. Lord Drake inconspicuously assisted his son away from the pit and into the shadows.
"Robin, are you alright"
"I will be in a moment" Robin replied, "Do not let her know of my difficulties" he said wiping his damp forehead on his sleeve.
The two stepped out of the shadows side by side, Robin with a smile firmly planted. "Now, will you release him or do I have to show you some more of my powers" Robin realized that in his weakened condition there would be very few powers he could exhibit.
"Very well Robin, I will allow what you have requested. It would be more than worth it to have you by my side" Alice said again releasing an evil laugh. She opened a door by waving her hand and, making a swooping gesture, motioned for Lord Drake to leave.
"Son, you are not strong enough to take on this witch" Lord Drake whispered.
"Father, I am not alone. I always have Olwyn to turn to...now go" Robin said now turning to face Lord Drake, "I will join you soon".
"I love you son" Lord Drake said as he turned and ran for the door.
"I love you too father" Robin said more to himself as he walked forward into the light of the room, "Now, what are your intentions Alice" he said crossing his arms across his chest.
"Please be aware nephew, my intention are not all evil. I wish only for England to be in capable hands"
"You mean that of Prince Johns" Now all was becoming clear to the Sherwood Outlaw. "What pact do you and John have"?
"I will help him retain his throne and he will allow me full reign in practicing and using my powers"
"You mean HE will use your powers" Robin said stepping a few steps closer to his Aunt.
"Do you think me so foolish"? Alice boomed at Robin. She extended her hands in anger releasing lightening bolts striking Robin full force in the chest hurling him to the dirt floor.
Robin struggled to his feet shaking his head. Normally he would have been able to sustain that shot of electricity but in his current state...
After regaining his senses he stood again walking face to face with the beautiful witch and looking her in the eyes said strongly and firmly with an acid tone "Do not ever do that again".
Alice was surprised by the tone in his voice and even caught off guard replied with a hiss "And if I do"?
"I will destroy you" Robin whispered with a smile.
Alice, shocked, stepped back a couple of steps and looked into Robins eyes.
"You have changed Robert" she quietly said looking away from his harsh gaze.
"I have come into my own Auntie, and I think we both know which of us will come out on top should there be a confrontation'
"Not only have you changed but you have become quite arrogant for one so young" Alice laughed a nervous laugh.
"There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. That is one thing you sorely lack. And that, my dear Aunt, will be your downfall"
With this Robin spun on his heels and headed for the door.
As he walked away as soon as he was far enough away he closed his eyes in exhaustion. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep up this act but was aware it was all that was keeping him alive.
"Robert" Alice screamed behind him, "Stop or I will kill you"
Robin continued to walk in silence listening to her shriek behind him as she began to hurl energy balls exploding at his feet. "I will kill you nephew" again she screamed and as Robin reached for the door handle he felt a wave of searing heat and everything went black.
End of Part 32
Part 31 & 32 / Part 33 & 34 / Part 35 & 36
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