Chapter Seven
The Ultimate Sacrifice

Part 37 & 38 / Part 39 & 40 / Part 41 & 42

Part 37
By Shelly Quinn

Robin slept deeply, and without dreaming. When he awoke it was midday. He pulled on a fresh tunic, tied back his hair, stamped his feet into his boots then went in search of his friends. They were near the cook tent for it was time for lunch. All the way across the compound Robin was greeted with hugs and kisses and handshakes. A dimpled smile lit up his face. He was so happy to be home.

The moment Marion spotted Robin, she ran to him and took his hand. Normally she wouldn't show such and open display of affection, but she had come too close to losing Robin this time, and as he would be leaving them again soon, she didn't want to tempt fate. Marion would take what she could get.

Friar Tuck put a full plate in front of Robin and shook a finger at the outlaw when Robin pushed it away. "You need to eat," Tuck said sternly. "You're too thin."

"You always say that," Robin countered, with a good natured laugh.

"That's because it's true," Tuck replied. He settled the plate back in front of Robin, put a spoon in the strong fingers then scowled. "Now eat...or I'll have Little John hold you down while I feed you."

Robin sighed, knowing that it was not an idle threat. A few years back Tuck had done just that when Robin had gone through a depressed period and had refused to eat. He scooped up some stew put it in his mouth. After chewing and swallowing, Robin grinned at Tuck. "Better?"

Tuck smiled back, feeling relieved. "Much better," he replied. He knew that Robin appeared in perfect health, but he also knew that it was not by mortal means. And that fact worried him. But he kept those worries to himself. He didn't want to upset the others, prematurely.

"What are your plans for today, Robin?" Little John queried, as he shoveled down his second helping of stew.

"I thought that we could all go on a picnic," Robin announced. He saw the surprised look on his friends faces and laughed. "I know...You were expecting me to say let's go rob some Norman Lord." Robin shook his head when the others nodded. "I want to spend some quality time with you all," Robin confessed. "I don't know how long I'll be gone, working on my powers with Olwyn. So I want to spend one day with you that will make for a perfect memory."

Marion understood and she thought it was a wonderful idea.

"We can go to the lake," she suggested.

Tuck nodded in agreement. "I can pack us a feast and we can make a fire, and spend the night."

"Perfect," Robin replied, smiling at his friends. "Meanwhile, I'm going to go for a walk. I need to clear my head." He said this as an explanation when Marion gave him a concerned look. "I'm fine," he told her, his eyes warm. "I just need to walk and think and feel free again."

"Of course," Marion replied, knowing that Robin had suffered more pain and tragedy than most men did in a thousand lifetimes. And most of it had occurred in the past few months. "Just don't go far," she warned.

Robin stood up and bowed to her, gallantly. "Never too far," he whispered. "Not from you." Robin laughed softly as Marion blushed, then he waved to the others and headed out.

After crossing the bridge, Robin took the long path through the forest, one that was silent yet beautiful. The trees were not so close together as to block out the warmth of the sun, and Robin reveled in the feel of it's heat against his skin.

Robin wanted this time alone so he could attempt to remember what had happened to him. When he had awakened earlier, it was with the vague sensation of being watched, and he still felt that way. Which made him shiver. Also, he sensed a presence, a familiar one. But one that was not mortal. Of that he was certain. So he thought about the woman in white that he had mentioned to Marion. Robin couldn't rid himself of the thought that she was an angel. And it made sense that an angel had saved him from death. Had healed his mortal wounds.

"But what does it mean?" Robin questioned out loud, as he continued walking. Unfortunately, there was no one to give him an answer. Or so he believed. A voice suddenly whispered on the wind...

"....you are meant for bigger things, Robin Hood. You are meant for me..."

Robin stopped walking and glanced about him, eyes wild.

"Who's there?" he beseeched, reaching for his sword. He was glad that he had remembered to take it with him. But even as he drew the blade the whispers faded and Robin knew that he was alone. Still, he held on to his sword as he did an about face and headed back home.

The picnic was a wonderful idea. As darkness fell the group of friends gathered around the fire. Tuck had brought a lute and he began to play. Kemal had joined them as well and he made a makeshift drum. The beat was sensual and Marion jumped to her feet, pulling Robin up with her. She remembered how they had danced together in the past, and she wanted to be one with him again. Their hearts beating in time with each other, his strong arms around her.

Robin didn't resist for he wanted to be with Marion. Wanted to feel her softness against him and inhale her heady scent. She was beautiful in the firelight and Robin followed her in a dance that was as old as time itself.

Marion's eyes never left Robin's face as they circled each other. She thought he was more beautiful than any man had a right to be and her body ached with desire even as her blood was fired with passion. Her heart beat with love and longing, but Marion knew that their time would come. For now it was enough simply to love Robin, even from afar.

"What's that?" Little John shouted, interrupting the dance. He had heard a stirring in the woods.

"The wind?" Tuck offered, as his hands stilled and silence enveloped them. They all strained to listen.

Robin shook his head as he heard the thud of hooves. "Riders!" he hissed, reaching for his sword. But it was too late, for the intruders were upon them, crashing out of the trees to surround the small group.

The leader came to rest in front of Robin. "You are the outlaw of Sherwood," he declared, his sword point coming to rest beneath Robin's chin. When dark eyes glared at him the leader laughed. "Just a pretty boy!" he scoffed.

"He's Robin Hood!" Little John shouted, feeling the need to defend Robin's honor. But when he took a step forward there was a whizzing sound and Little John cried out as an arrow imbedded itself in his shoulder.

"JOHN!" Robin cried out, and in that moment his fury knew know bounds. He closed his eyes as he tapped into his powers. When he opened his eyes, they glowed like liquid gold. Robin sighted out the shooter and a moment later white-fire shot out of his palm striking the man from his horse.

The leader was stunned and dropped his sword. "What are you!" he hissed, pulling back on his reins to back his horse away.

But Robin waggled his fingers and the horse reared, toppling the man to the ground. He moved to stand over him. "Who are you?" he challenged. "Why have you come here?"

"Sir Guy of Gisborne hired us," the leader replied. He was terrified but trying hard not to show it. "Actually, it was the Sheriff of Nottingham's idea. They're working together."

"Really?" Robin drawled. "So the Sheriff of Nottingham has returned. "Where can I find him?"

The man on the ground swallowed convulsively. His throat was parched with fear and it was difficult to speak. He was stunned by the aura that glowed around Robin Hood. "You...you..can find him at Sir Guy's...Keep," he replied.

Robin smiled. "Thank you," he said, politely. "You can go now. Take a message to Sir Guy and the Sheriff. Tell them I received their invitation and I'll be coming to visit. Soon." Robin waved his fingers in front of the leader's face and sparks crackled. "Got that?' he queried.

"Got...got it," the leader replied, as he scrambled to his feet. He ran to his horse, mounted, then rode off. His men followed.

"Robin...you aren't serious!" Marion protested, as she ran to him.

He closed his eyes, taking a moment to let the aura fade. When he faced Marion, Robin's eyes were back to normal. He swayed a bit and felt her grab his arm. "I'm okay," Robin assured her, then he nodded. "I'm very serious, Marion. Having Sir Guy back is bad enough. But if he's hooked up with the Sheriff of Nottingham, that means trouble for the Saxons. I have to meet with them and see what they're up to."

Marion held tight to Robin's arm and shook him. "It's a trap!" she hissed.

"I know," Robin replied, offering a smile. "But I'm ready for it. And I think they'll be surprised by the tricks I've learned.

"Don't you think that mercenary is going to tell them that you know magic?" Marion protested, desperate to make Robin see reason.

He grinned, revealing a dimple. "I hope so," Robin replied. "But...do you think they're going to believe him?" Without waiting for an answer, Robin freed himself from Marion's grasp and went to Little John. Friar Tuck was tending to him. "How is he?" Robin asked Tuck.

The Friar heaved a sigh. "He'll be fine, it's not too deep, but I need to get him back to the compound."

"Kemal, Marion...Help Tuck with Little John," Robin ordered. He patted the giant's good shoulder. "I'm glad you're all right, my friend," he said softly.

"I'll be fine," Little John assured him. He could guess what Robin was going to do and knew he wouldn't be able to stop him. "Be careful, Robin," Little John beseeched.

Robin nodded. "I will. And do me a favor, let Olwyn know where I've gone and that I'll see him soon." This he requested of them in general.

Marion sighed, but nodded. "God speed, Robin," she whispered, although her belief in God was questionable.

"I'll be back soon," Robin promised. He bent his head and brushed a kiss to her cheek, then he ran to his stallion, mounted, and rode off into the shadows of the night.

End of part 37

Part 38
By Ginnie

The night seemed endless, the road stretched on forever. As Robin rode he thought back to the last time he stood face to face with Sir Guy of Gisborn.

Sir Guy had made it very clear that he was hopelessly in love with Marion and would take any steps necessary to eliminate Robin from the picture, including hiring an assassin to blow up a building Robin was in. He realized he had put

Marion through quite an ordeal that time thinking he was dead after the explosion and now, recent events had taken her through that same nightmare again.

He began to think as he rode, the same thoughts that had occurred to him many times in the past...that Marion was better off without him. She would be physically safe as well as safe from the heartache he was constantly putting her through. But when he thought of men like Sir Guy getting near her, his heart broke and realizing how much he loved her, he could never let her go. They were banded together for life with invisible chains of devotion that could never be broken by any outside force. Now he would have to confront Sir Guy again by his design but what he didn’t realize was that things were not as they used to be. The one thing Robin deeply feared was using his powers while his temper was out of control.

"I promised Olwyn I would keep my temper in check" Robin mumbled as he began to see tinges of light cutting through the night sky. He felt the early morning mists rise up from the forest floor against his face and could smell the damp evergreen drifting on the gentle breeze. He felt his stomach knot up as he neared Sir Guys castle.

"Oh how I dread this meeting" Robin whispered, reaching back and checking that his sword was sheathed behind him.

"Then come with me and leave all this behind" beckoned the same whispering voice echoing in Robins ears.

"Who is this" Robin demanded swinging around in the saddle, eyes darting from side to side.

"You know who this is, and I will return for you Robin Hood," the whisper faded into the mist and Robin realized he again, was alone.

He sat totally still in the saddle in the predawn hours trying to determine exactly what was happening. "Am I loosing my mind"? he questioned himself as he ran his fingers through the long dark strands of hair that had fallen forward as he sat. Hair and skin were damp and he shivered. He was unsure that this shiver came from the cool mist or nerves for what lie ahead. "What do you have in store for me Sir Guy" Robin asked with a lilt in his voice as he dug his heels into his grey stallions side starting towards the castle gates at a brisk pace.

As he approached the castle walls several things were very apparent to the outlaw. No matter where on the Castle walls he looked he could not locate one guard or soldier. The morning sky had become bright enough to clearly distinguish the barren walls and gate. Also, the gate was pulled totally open as if to usher Robin into this ominous grey stone structure.

"Come to me now Robin" he heard the soft voice whisper as if breathing into his ear, "This is not where you should be".

"Leave me now" he returned in a firm voice, "Be gone"!

"Your enemy surrounds you-your life is in grave danger" the whisper was soft and sweet yet spoke words of horror and distaste.

"I have to do King Richards bidding and confront my enemy for England...be gone"!!

Again Robin ran his fingers through his damp long hair and coaxed his grey animal forward through the gate entrance. The horse began to pull back hesitating against Robins encouragement.

"Easy boy" Robin leaned forward stroking his neck then repeated tapping his flank.

Upon reaching the center court yard, the stallions hooves echoing on the stone,

Robin pulled in on the reigns and slid from the saddle trying to watch all around him. He knew he wasn’t along, but what he had a hard time discerning was whether Guys soldiers were observing him or his "little voice" was remaining with him. The silence was deafening. There were so many things to consider that Robins concentration was not as keen as it usually was.

"So glad you accepted my invitation Fitzsooth" The voice echoed off every wall and the din was too much to handle. Robin reached up covering his ears against any further assault.

"I am to understand that you have something I want" Robin spoke softly knowing

Guy could hear every word he said.

"Ah...Fitzsooth. Now it is I who have something you want" Guy spoke deliberately loud seeing the discomfort it was causing Robin, "Perhaps...perhaps we can make a deal".

"I am not in a very good mood Sir Guy" Robin retaliated.

"Well Fitzsooth, or do you better respond to Robin Hood?" Guy laughed heartily,

"You certainly don’t believe you can just stroll into my keep and help yourself to my possessions without some kind of compensation do you"? Now Guy walked out of a stone archway directly across from Robin , crossbow notched and aimed at his heart.

"I will do what I must Sir Guy" Robin calmly replied with a slight smile, dimples revealing themselves.

"And I will do what I must to insure Prince John retains the throne" Sir Guy retaliated again laughing that same evil laugh.

Robin reached back and unsheathed his sword as Sir Guy released the crossbow, arrow sailing across the courtyard heading directly at Robin.

With a large crash of thunder and with lightening striking the stone floor, the arrow disintegrated mid-flight and a blinding light appeared in between the two men with a loud voice echoing through out the courtyard.

"You will not harm this man" it bellowed causing all standing around to cover their ears- vibrating everything from its original position.

The voice was so loud and so intense that covering your ears could not protect you from this energy source and the intensity caused all to loose consciousness.

The energy form took mortal shape and walked over to where Robin lay, and bent scooping up his sleeping form and walked away from the site of danger, cradling him in her arms protecting him with every step she took.

End of Part 38

Part 37 & 38 / Part 39 & 40 / Part 41 & 42

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