Part 7 & 8 / Part 9 & 10 / Part 11& 12
Prince John was in a rage. He paced back and forth outside the door of Mortiana's chambers. She was inside, with Robin Hood. When Prince John's men had returned with Lord Drake and his daughter, and Robin...the Outlaw of Sherwood was barely clinging to life. When asked who had beaten him, Prince John had nearly choked to learn that it had been Girard. He had made his orders very clear that Robin Hood was to be taken alive. Prince John did not want a martyr on his hands. He wanted a symbol of betrayal. He wanted Robin alive so that he could torture him on a daily basis. Wanted Robin to suffer such pain that the outlaw would beg for death, only Prince John would be deaf to his pleas.
The Royal physicians swore there was nothing they could do to save Robin Hood. He was broken and bleeding inside, and it was just a matter of time. As Prince John had wailed in frustration, Mortiana had appeared. She had studied Robin, then waved her arms and the two of them had disappeared. Prince John had made his way to her chambers, gasping for breath, only to find the chambers sealed. Mortiana had ordered him to be patient. So here he was now, pacing and waiting, but hardly patient. The Prince was about to pound on the door again when it swung open.
"About time!" he muttered beneath his breath as he stalked into the room. He stopped and stared as he saw Robin Hood. The outlaw was lying on his back, arms crossed over his stomach, but he was not supported by a bed. Rather, he was floating in the air about two feet above the mattress and was engulfed in a shimmer of golden light. "What the..." Prince John began.
Mortiana glided over to him. "I've put Robin into a healing trance," she replied. "He is alive and will be consciousness by nightfall tomorrow."
"He'll be healed?" Prince John prompted.
"Yes. But weak," Mortiana replied. She turned back to face Robin. "You will have your prisoner, My Lord."
Prince John clapped his hands together. "Excellent. Well done, Mortiana. I owe you one."
She grimaced. "You owe me many, Prince John. But for now you must go." Mortiana made a shooing motion with one hand. "And do not return until I send for you. Robin needs peace and tranquility for the trance to work."
"Why is it you didn't do this for me when I was stabbed three years ago?" Prince John challenged, even as he headed for the door. "You didn't heal me then," he whined.
"I'm not the one who is healing Robin," Mortiana replied, her eyes growing cold. "He is healing himself. Robin Hood has the power within him. A power that you should beware, Mi Lord."
Prince John huffed. "I'm not afraid of Robin Hood," he scoffed. "I'm a Prince and he's just.....just a man."
Mortiana laughed, and the sound echoed in the chamber. "A very special man, Prince John," she reminded him. "His blood is as royal as your own...you would be wise not to forget that. And he has the gift as well."
"What gift?" Prince John queried, as he found himself nudged out the door.
"Magic..." Mortiana whispered, the she closed the door in Prince John's face. She heard him stomp off and shook her head, before gliding back to stand before Robin Hood. "You are more special than you realize, young man," she whispered. "Olwyn will have his hands full." That thought amused Mortiana to no end, for she knew something that Olwyn did not, and she had every intention of taunting him with that fact the next time they met up. Until then, however, she had work to do. Leaving Robin to his healing, Mortiana misted away to another section of her chambers.
Lord Drake and Johanna were locked up in the same cell. Johanna now lay sleeping, her head pillowed in her father's lap. She had cried herself to sleep, and the Earl could still feel the pain and agony in each heartbreaking sob. They both feared that Robin was dead.
"Robin....Robin Hood." Lord Drake whispered the name out loud. He still found it hard to conceive that the man he considered to be his son was the infamous outlaw of Sherwood Forest. That fact did not upset the Earl, however. Truth be told, he was proud. He had been a long time admirer of Robin Hood, but hadn't expected him to be such a young man. Even though he knew the tales of Robert of Locksley, the Earl had expected Robin to be older and more weary. But the young man was wise beyond his years, yet still filled with the hope and courage of youth.
A guard strolled by and Lord Drake called out to him. "Tell me, please. Is Robin Hood still alive?" He needed to know for his sake, and Johanna's.
"He's alive!" the guard snarled, then he continued on his way.
"Thank the Lord," Lord Drake whispered, as he blinked back tears of joy. Then there was still hope, for in his heart he knew that Robin Hood would find a way to rescue them all.
Little John came running with the news. He had been out and about, searching for Robin although he'd had no idea where to look. But he had come across a crier with news that would rock all of England. Running up to Marion who was sitting with Friar Tuck, Little John shouted, "Prince John has captured Robin!"
"What?" Marion cried, jumping to her feet. Her heart was pounding in her chest, but her ears had certainly deceived her. "Robin is in Prince John's castle?"
"That's right," Little John confirmed. His eyes were shining. "We've got to go rescue him, right?"
Tuck grabbed his arm. "We do, Little John," he replied. "But we can't just go rushing in. Prince John will have extra guards and they'll be alerted to any rescue attempts."
Marion was as impatient as Little John, but she nodded. "Tuck is right. Prince John will expect us to rescue Robin. We need to come up with a plan."
"Well hurry up!" Little John beseeched. "I want Robin home." His words were echoed in the heart's of his companions, and the trio bent their heads as they worked on a way to free their friend.
Robin felt as if he were floating. It was a strange, but pleasant, sensation. It lulled him back into the darkness of slumber, but he fought against it. His mind was alert to what had happened. Prince John's soldiers storming Lord Drake's castle, and the one soldier hurting Johanna. But other images flashed as well. Marion and Little John, and no forgetting Friar Tuck. A smile curved Robin's lips even as his eyes fluttered open. He remembered everything. But that did not prepare him to discover that he was truly floating on air and with a cry he found himself falling. Thankfully he thumped down onto a soft mattress and lay still. But only long enough to determine that he was okay. A bit sore, but in one piece.
"Ohhhhh.." Robin groaned and bit his lip as he sat up. Ribs were still very sore, but workable. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and pushed himself to his feet. Only to sit back down as dizziness washed over him. After several deep breaths, Robin tried again. This time his knees buckled, but he locked his legs and remained standing. A little weak, but that would pass. "Where am I?" Robin questioned, out loud, as he gazed about the chamber.
"Welcome to my home, Robin Hood," said an amused voice.
He whirled to find Mortiana smiling at him. "What am I doing here?" Robin demanded. Last thing he remembered was being beaten by Girard. So Robin had expected Prince John's soldiers to have dragged him off and dumped him in the dungeon. Actually, a part of Robin had expected to be dumped in a grave. He knew he had taken a severe beating. Had felt the bones snap and his insides fill with blood.
Mortiana glided over to Robin, one hand lifting to pass before his face as she tested his aura. His life force was still humming. Robin didn't know it, but he was still healing himself. "I brought you here because you were dying," she said, in answer to his question.
"So...you saved my life," Robin countered, uncertain as to how he felt about that fact.
"I assisted you," Mortiana allowed. "You healed yourself."
Robin frowned at her. "I did?" he replied, feeling more confused than ever. "And how...exactly...did I do that?"
Mortiana laughed. "It's not for me to explain," she countered, turning away to sit in her favorite chair. "Ask Olwyn about it next time you see him."
"You sound certain that I will see him," Robin whispered. He gestured about him. "I would assume that I'm Prince John's prisoner?"
"You are," Mortiana confirmed. "But when has that ever stopped you?"
Robin laughed and offered a courtly bow. "Good point. So...I take it you won't try and stop me from escaping?" He asked this as he made his way towards the door.
Mortiana was reading one of her spell books. "You won't try and escape, Robin," she countered. "You have to rescue your friends first. And that won't be easy."
"When is it ever?" Robin replied, but a smile curved his lips. He winked then disappeared.
"Good luck, Robin Hood," Mortiana whispered. Then she misted out of the room. Time to awaken Prince John.
Prince John sat on the throne looking out over the hall waiting. That’s all he seemed to be doing these days was wait. He stood and paced a bit more then returned to his seat and waited again.
"Where are those guards" he barked as he jumped back to his feet. Finally the large oak doors swung open and in walked Girard followed by two guards. Girard wore a smile, sure that Prince John had called him in so he could bestow his reward upon him.
"He will be grateful for the speed at which I delivered Robin Hood into his hands" he thought with glee.
"You have betrayed me" Prince John bellowed at Girard as he entered the room.
"Betrayed you"? Girard echoed in shock, "Mi Lord, I have delivered the infamous outlaw into your hands"
"Almost dead"! Prince John was to the point of screaming, "I specified I did not need a dead martyr on my hands and what do you do? Beat him to the point of being a heartbeat from deaths door".
"Mi Lord, I just wanted to insure he did not escape as he was attempting to do" Girard replied shifting his eyes from Prince Johns gaze as he spun his web of deceit.
"How could he escape as he was being held while you beat him? If he hadn’t you would be the one at deaths door right now" Prince John returned laughing. Girard felt his face flush bright red.
"But, Mi Lord, my only concern was for you" ...but before he could finish his sentence a mist could be clearly seen to Prince Johns left and out stepped Mortiana.
"He lives" Prince John said turning to Mortiana.
"He lives and walks your halls planning his escape" Mortiana said with a laugh.
"You allowed him to walk free"! Prince John shouted, "Can no one obey my commands"!
"Fair is Fair John...." she laughed as the mist reappeared and she vanished.
"Take him to the dungeons" Prince John motioned to the guards to grab Girard/
"Mi Lord...but…but..." too late, the guards had him by the arms and dragged him from the room struggling all the way.
Robin slipped down the narrow stairs from Mortiana's chambers quickly taking the first hall he saw. As he turned fast he reached for his aching side subconsciously not allowing his mind to register the pain he was still feeling.
"Great...now which way?"...he said with a sigh looking at an intersection.
"Trust your instincts" he heard Olwyn as clear as if he were standing next to him.
Robin closed his eyes and it was as if he knew exactly which hall to take. He hurried forward constantly headed downwards. It seemed as if he had been running forever and found himself getting quite winded. He paused and leaned against the corner contemplating why in all of these corridors he hadn’t seen a single one of Prince Johns men?
He lips curved up into a smile realizing that this was more of Mortiana’s strange sense of humor. Even though she obviously worked her spells for Prince John, she also loved to torment him every chance she got. And what better way then to use Robin Hood to get to him. No matter what the reasoning, Robin Hood was thankful for the chance to get as close to Lord Drake and Johanna as possible without making any confrontations. He still wasn’t sure of his physical abilities...he wasn’t sure of anything since he still didn’t know what really happened back there.
After catching his breath he went to hurry on when Lord Drakes gentle face and Johanna’s soft eyes entered his mind. "My family" he sighed realizing now that they were only family in his mind, "That is the closest I've come in years to having a family" then continued on. As he reached the dungeons he began to peer into each of the cells down the line. He saw many dirty faced beggars pleading for him to release them as Robin assured them he would as soon as he could.
Finally in desperation he quietly called their names, "Father...Johanna.." he called quietly. Instantly at the end of the hall he could see Lord Drakes face looking back through the grate in the door ... "Robert! Is that you??" He cried with happiness.
"Yes, father" he said racing down the hall, "I will have you out in a minute" Robin said quickly looking around for something to use to work the lock.
"Son, your alive" his father said reaching out the door touching Robins face.
"Are you alright"?
For the first time Robin looked down at his blood stained cloths yet realized there were no cuts or abrasions anywhere on his body.
"Yes, Father, I am fine" he said looking into Lord Drakes loving eyes," And you and Johanna....are you alright"? He asked with concern.
"We are fine, Johanna sleeps from simple exhaustion" Lord Drake replied quickly seeing the fear in Robins eyes at seeing Johanna lying on the straw.
Suddenly he heard a coarse voice from the other side of the hall... "So you not only live, but you escape. Are you a cat with nine lives Robin Hood"?
Swinging around he saw Girards face pressed against the bars with an evil grin. "Well…well..." Robin said now also smiling, "They finally have you where you belong Sir Girard, with the rest of the beggars".
As much as Girard wanted to escape his confines, he wanted Robin dead all the more and began to shout "Guards, Guards....they are escaping"
This was all it took...even Mortiana’s magic was powerless now. Guards began to poor in through the only exit from the dungeons. Robin picked up a rake at the back of the hall and braced himself for battle with his father crying for him to stop but the guards charged in with swords drawn...Robins fate was sealed.
"Do you really think this plan will work"? Asked Marion as they cleared the rise, the castle just coming into view.
"Of course it will work" Friar Tuck reassured her as he maneuvered the reigns of the horse drawn cart. Many peasants followed behind bearing samples of their wares for the Princes inspection. Marion, clothed in a peasants gown, and kerchief covering her hair sat next to the good Friar working her hands in desperation. The cart they pulled contained swords, bows, arrows, and daggers, covered with a layer of hay with eggs strewn across the top.
"Yes, but will we get past the guards"? Marion repeated.
"We'll get past the guards" Tuck replied firmly. Little John rode up next to Marion in his peasant’s disguise.
"We're getting close now, get ready" he stated smiling, obviously ready for whatever lie ahead. All the peasants that accompanied them were also ready for battle to save Robin Hood, the man who had so many times before risked his own life for them. And as they approached the drawbridge, Marion thought how many times they had avoided this bridge to save their very lives and now were crossing it willingly.
The End of Part 12
Part 7 & 8 / Part 9 & 10 / Part 11& 12
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