Part 13 & 14 / Part 15 & 16 / Part 17& 18
Robin was still standing by the window when Johanna brought him his evening meal. She set the tray down on a table in the corner, then looked at Robin. "Come eat," she beseeched him.
"I'm not hungry," Robin replied. He didn't face her, but continued to stare out at the night sky.
"Robin.." Johanna's whisper was an urgent plea. She went to him, one hand reaching out to tuck silky strands of his hair behind one ear. "I know that you're angry," Johanna said. "But this is for the best. You'll see."
Robin shook his head, turning now to face Johanna, letting her see the pain in his eyes. "Best for who?" he countered, his voice solemn. "I don't belong here, Johanna. You know that."
She blinked back tears. "I love you, Robin," Johanna replied fiercely. She wanted him to understand that love, to let it envelope him. She knew that she would make Robin a good wife, and that they would be happy together.
"But I don't love you," Robin whispered, knowing that his words would cause her pain and regretting that fact. But he would not lie to Johanna. Would not let her believe in the lie either. "I love Marion. All my life, I have loved her." Robin reached for Johanna's hand when she would have turned away. "Surely you can understand that, by the love that you say you have for me."
'You're confused," Johanna replied, her eyes flashing now with anger. She hated Marion, and a part of her wished the other woman dead. The warrior woman had somehow cast a spell over Robin. Johanna was certain of it. But she knew of a way to break the spell. She would go to see Zusa. The witch who lived in a cave in the woods near the keep. Johanna had befriended her as a small child, and for a bag of gold, Zusa would do what it took to make certain that Robin would love only her.
Robin swallowed a sigh and made another attempt to make Johanna see reason. "You're the one who's confused," he said softly. "I'm not doubting that your feelings for me are real, Johanna. But you fell in love with Matthew. Not with Robin Hood. You have to let me go now. Please."
Johanna saw pain shimmering in Robin's beautiful eyes, but steeled herself against it. She pulled her hand from his, then glided over to the door. She rapped upon it so that the guard would let her out. But she paused in the doorway to look back at Robin and whisper, "You will love me...forever." With those parting words, she was gone.
"No..." Robin sighed, as he turned back to the window once more. The stars twinkled in the sky like diamonds and the moon glowed, but all Robin saw was the image of Marion and the way her smile could light up the darkest night. "I will find away back to you, Marion," Robin whispered. "I promise."
Marion and her companions made reached Lord Drake's keep. When the guards tried to turn them away, Little John made short work of them then they stormed into the castle. But it was empty, and no one would tell them where their master had gone. "Now what?" Marion asked, as she fought back tears. More than ever she was certain that Robin was in danger.
Tuck sighed, putting one arm around Marion's shoulders. He was as worried about Robin as she was, but something told him to remain at the keep. "We wait," he said softly. "Let's make camp in the woods."
With heavy hearts, Robin's friends left the Keep.
Johanna had been right. For a bag of gold, Zusa had been more than willing to come with her to see Robin. And the witch promised Johanna that Robin would fall in love with her, she had a spell that would guarantee it.
Lord Drake was gone when Johanna brought Zusa to Robin's tower room. He had business to attend to at a nearby town and would not return till dusk. Johanna led Zusa into Robin's room, and introduced the witch to the outlaw of Sherwood.
Robin was stunned as he stared at the witch. She had silver-gray hair that fell to her knees, and eyes that were so pale a blue that they reminded Robin of icicles. "Why have you brought her here?" he challenged Johanna.
"To break Lady Marion's curse over you," Johanna shot back defiantly. She knew that her words were cruel, but that was how she felt. That Marion was a curse that Robin had been burdened would, only now he would be free. Free to love her with all his heart.
"You shouldn't mess around with witches," Robin cautioned, and he knew of what he spoke. His aunt Alice was a witch, and she was nothing but trouble. And Robin sensed that Zusa was both old, and powerful. He was right.
Zusa laughed at Robin's words. She had filled her hand with a crimson powder and now she blew the particles into Robin's face. She watched as the handsome outlaw shook his head and tried to wave the dust away from him, but it was too late. A moment later he collapsed to the floor.
Johanna was horrified. "Robin!" she shouted, and made to go to his side, but hard fingers grabbed her wrist. Johanna glared at Zusa. "What have you done to him?"
"That's a question you should be asking yourself, my dear," Zusa countered, with a cackle of laughter. She pulled the bag of gold coins off her belt and tossed it at Johanna's feet. "You can have that back," Zusa hissed. "I've got what I want. Robin Hood." With that she released Johanna, then waved her hands as she spoke an incantation in some ancient dialect. A moment later a black shimmer enveloped her and Robin and they disappeared.
"NO!" Johanna screamed, dropping to her knees in the place where Robin had been. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed, "What have I done?"
Robin could hear before he could gather enough energy to open his eyes. He could hear a fire crackling with an occasional explosion, and repeated incantations being recited by a deep, harsh crackling voice. Pulling together all of his strength, he raised his head from his chest and struggled to open his eyes. Ahead he saw a blurred bright light, and smaller lights leaving the bright light, then exploding. Robin tried to bring one of his hands to his eyes in an attempt to rub away his difficulty focusing, but found himself unable to use his arms.
"So....you are Robin Hood" he heard that same voice he heard moments before addressing him. He turned his head quickly to face the voice but this motion sent waves of dizziness through him. Closing his eyes to regain his bearings, he heard the voice say "Don’t worry, the effects of my potion will leave you soon"
"Where am I" asked Robin, eyes still tightly closed
."You are in my home" came the harsh reply.
Slowly Robin reopened his eyes and the haze he saw began to clear. The room was dark, poorly lit. A single torch burned in the far corner of the room and against one wall was a long table with jars and bottles and stacks of open books. On the table were two lit candles shedding very little light. The room was very cold and very damp and despite his effort, Robin could not help but shiver. He turned his head towards his arms and it quickly was obvious why he could not use them. He was shackled with heavy chains to the cold stone walls. He pulled on the chains which gave him very little room to move away from the wall but they did not budge.
"Why have you brought me here"? Robin inquired looking over at the stooped figure working at the table.
"Is that not obvious"? she returned his question with a question.
"You are not doing this for Johanna I presume" Robin stated rather than ask.
"And as you know who I am, I assume this has to do with the reward money Prince John is offering" Again, Robin inquired.
"That is where you are wrong Robin Hood"
It was obvious now to Robin that the old woman volunteered as little information as possible. She turned from the table and slid across the room and put her face up to Robins so the torch cast an eerie glow in her emerald eyes. Again Robin shuttered at the heavy smell of herbs and alcohol. Her face was heavily creased with age and discolored. Her body thin and twisted draped with a gray tattered gown and her long skinny fingers reached up and traced the outline of Robins lips.
"I see why Johanna wished me to cast a spell on you Robin Hood, but my use for you is only to extract revenge against my oldest adversary" she hissed as she pulled her face away from his.
"This is all about revenge"? Robin blurted out pulling at his chains.
"You will gladly assist me before we are through here" she cackled as she walked back to the table.
"What could anyone have done to you to bring on this kind of contempt"?
"I was once young and beautiful…much like Johanna," Zusa began, "Until he saw to it my life was destroyed"
"But what have I to do with this" Robin asked interrupting the witches train of thought.
"He cast the spell that made me look old and horrid well before my time. He also took most of my powers to his own so I would be stuck in this cave forever" she continued paying no attention to Robins comment.
"I still don’t understand why you have brought me here" Robin again interjected.
"The man who did this to me is named Olwyn" she finished staring directly into Robins eyes.
"My lord..." Robin gasped.
"I am going to make your life force my own and with that additional power, I can subject Olwyn to the same fate he has cursed me with" she began calmly but by the end was laughing the most hideous laugh Robin had ever heard. Robin closed his eyes in horror avoiding her cold stare. It would take a miracle to save Olwyn, thought Robin, or himself.
End of Part Eighteen
The End of Part 18
Part 13 & 14 / Part 15 & 16 / Part 17& 18
Home /Story Page / Legacy Home Page