Chapter Seven
The Ultimate Sacrifice

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

Part 41
By Shelly Quinn

Marion, Tuck and Little John all took turns pacing, only Kemal sat still as stone. His eyes never left Olwyn's face as the ancient magician was lost in thought. But hard as they all tried, they couldn't think of a way to speak with Robin. How did a mortal reach the heavens?

Olwyn felt Kemal's gaze burn into him and he turned to face the dark-skinned man. "There is nothing more that I can do," he said soflty, his voice colored with regret.

"I know," Kemal replied. "You've already done more than we expected. You've given us hope, Olwyn. I thank you."

"And I thank you, Kemal," Olwyn replied. "I will return," he whispered, then he faded out in a shimmer of gold sparks.

Macadia returned to Robin's room and discovered that he was still curled up on the bed. She went to him, kneeling beside him, one hand reaching out to brush his dark hair from his face. "Robin..." Macadia whispered. When he stirred at her touch, she bent to press a kiss to his cheek. "I have a surprise for you."

Robin's eyes fluttered open and he stared up at Macadia's smiling face. She looked pleased with herself, like a cat who just ate a bowl of cream. "A surprise?" he repeated, pushing himself into a sitting position. Robin blinked then rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, unaware that he looked young and innocent, like a child. "What is it?" he prompted, hope rising from deep within him. With a bit of luck his plan had worked and Macadia would set him free.

"Look.." Macadia beseeched, pointing to Robin's left. And from a silver mist, two figures emerged. A man and a woman, holding hands.

"Father..." Robin breathed, as he slid off the bed and rose to his feet. He shook his head. "No...it can't be."

Macadia moved to hid side. "But it is," she whispered in Robin's ear. "Your father dwells among us. He was a good man, Robin."

The Earl of Locksley smiled and held out one hand. "Robin....my son..." he whispered. "I've missed you, my boy."

"I've missed you, father," Robin replied, and then he found himself in his father's embrace and the arms that held him were solid. Flesh and blood. "You're real," Robin breathed, as he pulled back to study his father's face.

"Very real," the Earl confirmed. He smoothed back the tangle of Robin's hair. "Look at you, Robert. All grown up. The man I always knew you could be." Tears flowed down the Earl's face. "Come…there's someone I want you to meet."

Robin found himself staring at a beautiful woman with chestnut hair and amber eyes. He knew her in heartbeat. "Mother..." Robin whispered, as his eyes filled with tears. Then he stepped forward and embraced the woman who had died when he was but an infant. After twenty-seven years, Robin finally felt himself held in his mother's arms.

She held him close, one hand smoothing his silky hair, then her lips were at his temples. "Robin...my beautiful son," she whispered in his ear. "At last we can be a family."

"No.." Robin whispered, pulling back to stare at his parents. "I can't stay here." Although he wanted to be with them, more than anything. Robin knew that his destiny was on earth. On his beloved, English, soil. Turning to glare at Macadia, Robin hissed, "I have to go back! No more tricks."

"This isn't a trick, Robin," Macadia replied. And she was stunned by his reaction. "Your parents are real. You said you were alone, but now you have your family with you."

Robin shook his head. "My destiny is to protect England for King Richard's return. I'm the chosen one, Macadia. Without me, England will fall to ruin." Robin wasn't being boastful, he was simply stating a fact.

Macadia was furious. Robin Hood was an ungrateful wretch, but she loved him, so she would give him one more chance. "There is a way for you to return," she allowed. "But if you do, it will be as an immortal."

"So be it," Robin replied, crossing his arms over his chest. "Do you understand what that means, Robin Hood?" Macadia countered. She pointed to his parents. "You will never see them again. Since you will be immortal...you will never die. You be allowed back here. Not ever. You will live on your precious earth with you precious mortals, and you will watch them die...one after the other. Not from battle, but from old age. And then you will truly be alone, Robin. For all eternity."

Robin gasped at Macadia's words struck home. He turned to face his parents and saw love and hope shining in their eyes. The temptation to remain with them was strong, but in the end Robin blinked back tears and whispered, "Send me back." He went to his parents to explain.

But his mother touched her fingertips to Robin's lips, to silence him. "I understand, my son," she said softly. "You must follow your destiny. I am proud of you, Robert." With that she kissed his lips then faded back.

The Earl faced his son now, raising his hands to frame Robin's face between his palms. With his thumbs he brushed away hot tears. "When Locksley fell I bid you to run," he whispered. "I knew...even then...that you were destined for greater things. You have made proud, my son. And my love for you is eternal. And you will never be alone for your mother and I are here.." The Earl pressed one hand to Robin's chest. "In your heart. Go now, and never regret the choice that you have made." And with those words the Earl faded back, joining his wife. Then, hand in hand, they walked away.

Robin wiped tears off his face as he watched them go, but determination glowed in his eyes as he turned to face Macadia. "All right!" Robin hissed. "Enough. Send me back...now!"

"As you wish, Robin Hood!" she shouted. "But it does come freely." With those ominous words echoing in the air, Macadia lifted her arms and in a flash of light, she and Robin vanished.

Marion and the others were still gathered together when a flash of bright light sparked in the air, blinding them. When they lowered their hands and blinked to bring things back into focus, they cried out in joy. For, standing before them was Robin. Only he was not alone. A creature dressed in white, floated in the air, a silver-white shimmer enveloping her, like an aura.

Robin was delighted to see his friends. They came to him en mass, hugging him and asking questions, but before Robin could say a word, Macadia interjected.

"In order to come back, Robin, a sacrifice is demanded," she declared, her voice cold and flat.

"What kind of sacrifice," Robin entreated, feeling a cold chill ripple up his spine.

Marion stepped forward to explain. "Robin...Olwyn told us about the sacrifice, and that you're immortal now." She reached for his hand and clasped it between both her own. She knew that Robin would not react well to what she was about to tell him. "In order for you to come back to us and continue your fight against Prince John for the freedom of England and her people, one of us," Marion paused to gesture to herself, Little John, Tuck and Kemal. "One of us must be willing to sacrifice our life for you."

Robin was horrified. "No.." he whispered, shaking his head. "I won't allow that."

"Then you have no choice but to return with me," Macadia drawled. She was pleased.

Friar Tuck knew that Macadia was an angel from heaven, but he didn't like her much and shot her a glare before moving to confront Robin. "My friend," he said softly, love and compassion shining in his eyes. "You have to allow us to do this." Tuck raised one hand to still Robin's protest. "One life in exchange for the many. It's fair enough Robin. It's not just about you...it's about all the innocent Saxon's who would be killed and oppressed without you. Would you condemn them to this fate?"

Robin shook his head, but his heart was heavy. He knew that Tuck was right. "But...how can I choose?" he beseeched as he glanced at each of their faces. "I love you all."

"We've chosen for you, Robin," Marion replied. "We drew straws."

"And I won," Little John said solemnly, as he stepped forward. He stared down at Robin and saw tears glimmering in his friend's dark eyes. "Don't cry for me, Robin," Little John begged. "I do this willingly. For you...and for England. I love you both."

Robin bit his lip and found that he couldn't speak past the knot in his throat. Instead he hugged Little John, then found himself lifted off his feet. "I love you too, John," Robin whispered.

Marion found herself blinking back tears as she watched the two friends, who were more like brothers, say goodbye. She was about to step forward to offer them what comfort she could when another shimmer of light brightened the darkness.

Olwyn appeared. "A noble sacrifice, John Little," he said, in his booming voice. "But you are not the one."

"Olwyn.." Robin whispered, as he was set back on his feet. He turned to face his mentor. "What do you mean?"

"I am the one who is to make the sacrifice, Robin," Olwyn replied.

Robin shook his head. He loved all his friends, but Olwyn was more than that. He was Robin's mentor and his teacher. Without Olwyn's guidance, Robin would not succeed in his quest to save England. "I need you here," Robin whispered.

Olwyn smiled. "Twelve years ago I allowed a young boy to choose his destiny. And in that moment, the boy became a man. And in my own way, I will grow as well, Robin. Would you deny me my destiny?"

"Olwyn..." Robin wanted to protest, but he couldn't find the words. "I can't do this without you," he said at last.

"You are more powerful than I could ever dream of being, Robin," Olwyn replied. "And you have the power of love on your side as well. Your friends will be there for you." He saw tears slide down Robin's beautiful face. "No regrets," Olwyn chided. "I have none. I have lived over five hundred years. That's enough."

Macadia had had enough as well. She confronted Robin. "It is time," she snarled, her eyes glowing. "Do you accept the sacrifice, Robin Hood?"

He wiped away his tears then smiled at Olwyn. "I accept," Robin whispered.

"So be it!" Macadia hissed, knowing that she had lost Robin. She waved one hand and Olwyn began fading out.

But as he shimmered out of being, the echo of his voice remained. "Well done...young man."

End of part 41

Part 42
By Ginnie

Robin stood stunned looking at the place where Olwyn once stood. Tears streamed down his face as his friends gathered around trying to console him.

"What have I done" Robin whispered to himself.

Marion’s heart broke to see Robin in so much pain.

"You have done nothing Robin, fate has called for this" she said gently.

"I should have died back at Sir Guys castle, then Olwyn would still be here" he mumbled.

"Sir Guy?" Little John looked puzzled at his friend.

"I have to retrieve a document for King Richard" Robin said quietly to his friends.

"King Richard" Marion exclaimed "who has carried this word to you"?

Robin looked at his friends totally perplexed. "King Richard did. Didn’t you know he was back"?

The three friends looked at each other than back at Robin. "Robin, King Richard is imprisoned by King Henry-he has not returned" Tuck explained looking into Robins bloodshot eyes.

"Impossible" Robin sighed an exhausted sigh "I spoke with him myself. He gave me instructions himself to retrieve this letter implicating him in a conspiracy with Salidin".

"Robin, it is not possible" Marion said with a gentle smile, "Given the series of events that have befallen you lately, you have been with angels and become immortal, that’s not exactly the normal day for the average man"

"Are you saying I'm hallucinating"? Robin asked anger rising.

"We're suggesting the possibility that you dreamed it" Tuck tried to appease his friend, "Perhaps it was a vision of King Richard".

Robins eyes clouded over even further "And perhaps I have lost my mind"

"We never said that" Little John said stepping forward.

"You are capable of things we are not, a vision is not impossible for you"

Marion said reassuringly.

Robin looked down hating to be reminded of his immortality but did not let his friends know how much this bothered him.

"What exactly did King Richard say"? Little John beseeched.

"The letter spells out the alleged deal Richard has struck with Saladin listing witnesses to this transaction. Richards concern was that should this document fall into his brothers hands he would use it to turn his own people against him and help secure the crown for John".

Robins friends looked at each other realizing that this had to be more than a dream but talk of Angels and King Richard was enough to make anyone doubt their sanity.

Again, Robin looked down as if the pressure was too much for him to bear.

"I have to get the document AND Olwyn back" he looked up with a poor attempt at a smile, "After all, I have nothing to fear....I'm immortal"! and with a sigh he ran over to his horse and swung up into the saddle, Marion, Tuck and Little John on his heels.

"Robin, you can’t leave now" Marion stated firmly.

"Not without us anyway" Little John chimed in.

"NO"! Robins voice was very firm. "I am going back to Guys castle ALONE. Last time I was there he had a trap set for me that I should have "died" in. Now I cannot die but you all could! I can't take that chance"

"Robin, but they could capture you" Marion pleaded.

"And do what to me"?

Marion could hear the bitterness in Robins voice. "I'll be fine"

Marion conceded realizing that what he said was true, "I wish I really believed all of that" Marion said with a smile, "Robin, please hurry back. You have just returned from the clouds and..."

Her eyes filled with tears and Robin in thinking of himself had not realized what his friends had just gone through.

"I am sorry" he said smiling at the group, "I promise to be careful"

Marion’s shoulders seemed to relax but her eyes still reflected concern.

"Wait here for me. This shouldn’t take long" and with a smile he nudged his horse with his heels and rode off to Sir Guys castle.

As soon as he was out of sight of his friends he dug his heels hard into the stallions flanks riding as if Prince John himself were on his heels. It was with hopes that Sir Guy thought him dead after their last confrontation that he thought he would have the element of surprise in his favor. That and Guys renowned superstitious nature working with Robins new found immortality.

About a quarter of a mile from the castle Robin reigned his horse in looking around at the landscape encroaching on Sir Guys castle. Luckily for him it was densely wooded with the trees running pretty much up to the castle walls. "Go back to Marion boy" he said tapping the stallions hind quarters sending him galloping back down the dirt road. As he approached the castle he immediately noticed that things looked totally different from the last time he visited. The draw bridge was securely closed, there were guards on every turret, the usual hustle and bustle within. After considering for a moment how he could gain entrance, Robin realized he would have to adjust to the concept of not worrying about death being an option after battle. This did help him with his plans as he hurried down the ravine and up the other side where the draw bridge was last time. He slipped up to the side of the wall totally undetected by the sleeping guards and over to the side of one of the turrets. The stone masons upon original construction of Gisborn

Castle had created a design in the stonework alternating the block by recessing one and protruding the next giving it aesthetic appeal. This also allowed for a natural ladder for Robin providing beautiful footholds. And since falling to his death need not worry him, Robin quickly scaled the wall. Quietly he slipped into the turret guard quarters where the two guards slept peacefully in the early morning and using the hilt of his sword insured they would sleep the rest of the morning.

Robin slipped down the stairs and across the courtyard through two large oak doors into Guys main living area. As he rounded a corner he ran fact to face with two guards who quickly drew their swords knowing exactly who he was.

"Gentlemen....gentlemen...." Robin tried to reason with them but within seconds he knew this was not a viable plan. The two rushed him giving Robin no choice but to unsheathed his sword and prepare himself for battle. After several exchanges of blows from both swords simultaneously, Robin rolled across the back of one assailant to run his sword through the others midsection. The remaining soldier looking at the corpse of his comrade began to panic and thrashed around with his sword. Not taking the time to calculate out his moves and made it easy for Robin to hack him in the side through his chain mail.

As Robin turned to continue down the corridor, he found himself confronted by

Sir Guy himself, dressed in his night shirt his long black hair tumbling over his shoulders as if important dreams had been interrupted. Behind him stood four soldiers, swords drawn ready for whatever tricks Robin might have in store.

"Fitzsooth-no matter how hard I try I can't seem to kill you. What will it take"? he exclaimed a twisted smile curving his lips.

"A miracle" Robin returned lunging forward with his sword. This time the competition was a little more evenly matched. They crossed swords and counter crossed moving up and down the corridor. Robin got in a swift gash with the tip of his sword across Sir Guys cheek opening it up and allowing blood to drip off of his chin and onto the lily white night shirt.

Being a very vane man, this infuriated Sir Guy and Robin found his attacker putting more zest into his fight. Guy backed Robin into a corner and in doing so, gave Robin an idea, a very risky idea.

"Guy, I have had it with your games" he sighed holding out his arms in opposite directions," take my life, put me out of my misery".

"At long last! Die Fitzsooth"! Guy cried out in sheer joy and ran his broad sword through Robins chest.

Robin felt the searing pain and heat of the steel as it pierced his chest then all went black as he dropped to the floor.

Sir Guy looked at Robins body totally bewildered. "He was winning!" he gasped, then sighed, "He must have tired of living" he mumbled wiping the blood off of his cheek with the back of his hand and turned to leave.

"No...just tired of you"!

Sir Guy stopped dead in his tracks slowly turning to look down at Robin. Slowly Robin worked his way up to his knees still feeling the pain of the steel embedded in his chest and looked up at Sir Guy forcing a smile. Sir Guy stood horrified as he watched Robin withdraw the bloodied blade from his chest and turning it, holding it by the blade, offered it in return to Sir Guy. "Your sword my liege" Robin smiled with his presentation.

"What....what...." he gasped.

At the sight of the "risen" Robin, the four guards shrieked in horror each running

in another direction. Robin watched in amusement then continued his charade.

"You see Sir Guy...that day in the courtyard....you DID kill me" Robin whispered.

Guy turned to run and Robin quickly scrambled to his feet extending his right arm allowing lightening to shoot from his finger tips deliberately just missing Guy and ricochet off the far wall.

Guy halted in his tracks swinging around to look at Robin. Robin allowed the glow to return to his eyes and Robin saw something in Guy's face he had never seen before, even as children-genuine fear!

"What are you Robin Hood"?

"Your worst nightmare Sir Guy" Robin said with a forced evil laugh "I require the false documents you are holding to implicate King Richard with the saracens. If you turn them over to me I will spare your life...this time" he said with a twist of his lips, eyes still glowing.

"But...how...how did you know I had them"? Then realizing this was a ridiculous question to ask someone with these kind of magical powers, Guy dropped his head and said "As you say Robert...follow me" all to anxious to cooperate. On the inside, Robin was releaved that his plan had worked. On the outside he emitted such confidence Guy was only too willing to comply. They hurried to Guys personal bedchamber where he ran to a trunk, inserted a key that hung around his neck, and withdrew several pages of parchment surrendering them willingly to Robin.

"Please....Robert...leave me in peace" Sir Guy pleaded.

"Do not ever cross me or my men again" Robin warned turning on his heels.

"Never" Sir Guy shouted after him.

Robin quickly exited the castle and ran into the forest. He ran as far as he could knowing he could only go a certain distance. He stopped falling against a tree, the world spinning around him. He dropped to his knees holding onto the tree for support. He quickly realized that the sword through his chest and maintaining the aura used a tremendous amount of energy and left him pale and totally drained. He might be immortal, but obviously even immortality had its limits.

Robin slid down the side of the tree leaning his aching back against it and dropped off into a deep, deep sleep almost immediately.

End of Part 42

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

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