Chapter Eight
Old Friends, New Enemies

Part 43 & 44 / Part 45 Part  47 & 48

Part 45
By Shelly Quinn

Robin paced in his cell. Charles had paid a fortune to rent out a small Keep, sending the Lord who owned it away to visit relatives. To Robin it was the ultimate conceit. But he brushed such thoughts aside as he heard footsteps outside his door. There was a sound of a key in the lock then the door opened. Robin smiled as Charles entered the room. "To what do I owe the honor of this visit?" Robin drawled, sarcasm coloring his tone.

Charles glared at the legendary outlaw, his big hands clenching into fists at his side. He wanted to smack the smile off Robin Hood's face. And not just because of the obvious insult, but because the other man was both younger than he was, and more handsome.

In fact, Robin Hood was beautiful, and Charles was insanely jealous of that fact. He prided himself on his looks but a peasant thief was more attractive. Not for long, however. Charles consoled himself with the thought that by the time he was finished with the other man, Robin Hood would be scarred, broken and ugly. "I thought you should know that I've sent a messenger to Prince John, letting him know that I have you in my custody. I plan on delivering you to him in a few days."

"Really?" Robin replied, showing no surprise at this announcement. Nor any fear. "And what do you have planned for between now and then?" Robin could feel Charles' animosity towards him and knew the other man had something in mind to torture him with.

"To teach you obedience to your betters," Charles replied.

Robin laughed and was delighted to see anger flare in the other man's eyes. "Tell me something," he queried. "Your wife...Christina...she told me your name was Dirk. Not Charles. Why is that?"

Charles shrugged. "Dirk is a nickname I acquired many years ago. My friends and family call be by that name. It's because of this." As he spoke, Charles removed a small dagger from his boot top. A silver-handled dirk.

"Very nice," Robin said, his eyes flashing with merriment.

"And just about your size." His words were intended to anger Charles, and Robin could see that he was succeeding. He felt it too when the other man's fist connected with his face. Stumbling back, Robin hit the wall and let it support him. "Not bad," he drawled, as he rubbed his chin. "More than hard enough to cripple or injure a woman....or a child." As he spoke, Robin's eyes began to flash with anger. "That's what you usually use for a punching bag, isn't it..Dirk? Those who are weaker, and smaller, than yourself. Those who cannot fight back?"

"INSOLENT WHELP!" Charles roared even as he stepped forward, dirk in hand, intending to imbed it in Robin's chest. But he found his arm blocked, then a hand on his wrist, twisting hard. The pressure not easing until Charles howled in pain and dropped the dagger. Only then was he released and shoved away.

Robin confronted Charles, arms folded over his chest, eyes glittering like dark ice. "I'll make you an offer, Dirk," Robin drawled. "The chance to prove to yourself just how big a man you are."

Charles glared at the legendary outlaw. "Meaning what?" he shot back, for he was curious to Robin's intent in spite of himself.

"You and I will fight, one on one. No weapons. Just our fists and our wits." As Robin spoke he paced in a circle about the other man, knowing it would irritate Charles. "What do you say? Do you have the courage to face me?"

"You're nothing, Robin Hood!" Charles spat. His wrist still throbbed and he rubbed at it absently, even as he turned to keep the outlaw in line of sight. "Why should I fight you? I have nothing to prove?"

Robin threw back his head and laughed. "Just as I thought," he whispered. "You're afraid."

Charles felt pressure throbbing in his temples and he wanted to explode. But he took a deep breath and replied, "I fear nothing. But what is the point of this...fight....between us, outlaw? What do I get out of it, besides the satisfaction of breaking you?"

"If you win, I will do whatever you ask of me," Robin replied. "I will indenture myself, willingly, to your servitude." He offered this knowing that it would appeal to Charles, and he was right. The other man smiled with delight at the thought of Robin doing his bidding.

"And if you win?" Charles prompted. Not that he expected that to happen, but he was curious as to what Robin hoped to gain from the fight.

Robin smiled, but it was a cold curving of his sensual mouth. "If I win you divorce Christina and sign away all rights to her and your son. Oh...and you give them one fourth of your fortune to live on."

Charles shook his head. "Foolish bet, Robin Hood," he scoffed. "You fight and gain nothing for it....win or lose."

"You're wrong," Robin replied, his eyes turning colder. "Giving Christina and Adam their lives back is all the reward I need. Is it a deal?"

"It's a deal," Charles confirmed. "When would you like to have this...event?"

Robin considered for a moment. "At dawn."

Charles nodded. "Where?"

"The courtyard," Robin replied. "Work for you?"

"Perfectly," Charles drawled. "Enjoy your last night on earth, Robin Hood. For at dawn you will die." That said, Charles strode out of the cell, slamming the door closed behind him.

In Sherwood, Tuck and the others gathered around as Adam told them his story. He had been running back to camp when Kemal had come riding along. Gathering Adam onto his horse, the dark warrior had rode hard into the compound. Now, the story told of his Father's cruelty to Robin, Christina felt herself grow pale. She, alone, knew of her husband's vanity, and of how he would react upon seeing Robin Hood. She was fairly certain that Robin was more than likely dead already. But she kept these thoughts to herself.

"We have to find Robin!" Little John declared. He grabbed his staff and took a step towards the gate.

"Wait," Marion beseeched, blocking the giant's way. "Little John...we don't where Robin is."

Heaving a sigh, Little John reminded Marion, "I'm the best tracker in Sherwood."

Tuck smiled. "We know that, Little John, but we need a plan before we go charging off. The Friar turned to Christina who was holding Adam in her lap. "Any idea where your husband might be?' he asked, hopefully.

"No," Christina replied, sadness shadowing her eyes. She wished that she could be of more help. "All I can tell you is that Dirk will search for appropriate lodgings. He's not one for...roughing it."

"That's not much to go on," Marion stated, with a sigh of frustration. Her jealousy of Christina had vanished in the wake of her concern for Robin's safety. That the other woman had brought the danger upon Robin was not important now. Marion would deal with those feelings later. Once Robin was back home, safe and sound. She turned to the others. "I guess we follow Little John's plan and pick up Robin's trail from the fishing hole." That said, Marion sheathed her sword and headed for the stables. The others were on her heels.

Only Christina and Adam remained, Mother and son comforting each other. But both were numb with fear.

At dawn's light, Robin was escorted to the courtyard. He blinked in the pale brightness, then smiled as his eyes lit upon Dirk. The other man was dressed in leathers and a vest, as a means to show off his physique, no doubt. Charles was bigger boned than Robin and his muscles were thicker, but that didn't worry the outlaw. Robin knew it wasn't size that mattered in a fight. So he walked to the center of the courtyard with a confidant stride. "Shall we begin?" Robin queried. He saw no reason to waste time.

Charles nodded, then he struck. His right arm swinging across his body, fist hard, preparing to connect with Robin's jaw. But he sliced through air for the outlaw was gone.

"Missed me," Robin taunted, revealing a dimpled grin. A back handspring had moved him from Dirk's reach. "Try again," Robin invited, not moving.

"Fool!" Charles snarled, launching himself forward. He did not know that his anger, as well as his body language, revealed his every action to Robin Hood. His fist swooshed through air again. Then again. Charles was ready to howl in fury, but found himself flat on his back as Robin's foot slammed into his chest.

Robin moved to stand over Charles, planting his foot against the other man's throat. "Give up?' he queried.

Charles gripped Robin's ankle in both hands and yanked, but instead of toppling over, the outlaw jumped his own leg, thereby freeing himself from Charles' grasp. Once again the Lord found a foot against his throat. Finding it hard to accept that he had been bested so easily, Charles shouted, "KILL HIM!"

"A bully, a coward and a cheat!" Robin hissed. Then he turned to see six men with arrows pointed at him. Moving away from Charles, Robin faced them and opened his arms wide. A moment later the first arrow struck him, followed by a second, then a third.

"Impossible..." Charles whispered as he stared at Robin Hood. Six arrows protruded from the other man's body, yet he did not fall.

For the first time in weeks, Robin used his powers. Tapping into his lifeforce so that the arrows could not harm him. He pulled the arrows out of his flush, unaware of the aura of light that surrounded him. A smile curving his lips Robin looked down upon Charles and whispered, "Welcome to hell."

End of part 45
Special Note: Ooopsy! It seems that they didnt' realize the next Part was 46. The next part of the novel is Part 47. Dont' worry you didn't miss anything, they just put in the wrong part number.

Part 43 & 44 / Part 45 Part  47 & 48

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