Part 49 & 50 / Part 51 & 52 / Part 53 & 54
"This is all my fault" his own voice echoed over and over.. black mists swirling around his body. He felt himself falling and falling into what felt like a bottomless pit.
"I am proud of you son...I always will be" he could hear his father telling him.
"You will always be my son" said Lord Drake.
"Marion"! Robin cried seeing her face through the mist but falling further and further away from it.
"You are my brother Robin...I will always be here to protect you" he heard
Little John assuring him.
"One hundred years......one hundred years....."
"I will always be there....." and with Olwyns voice still resonating through his head he awoke with a start to look up into the most beautiful set of ice blue eyes he had ever seen.
Robin closed his eyes again, reaching up with trembling hands to push the sweat soaked tendrils of hair out of his eyes then reopened them to make sure he had seen what he thought he saw.
"Hello" came a gentle voice, "You were having quite a dream there sir"
"Who...who are you" Robin asked voice still very unsteady.
"Easy...you appear to be ill young man. Although William and I are not quite sure of what yet"
That name hit like a brick wall...William...that part was not a dream. He was still back in time one hundred years and this young lady was no doubt his great, great grandmother.
Slowly struggling up onto one elbow he managed to cough out "You must be Antoinette" he said trying to smile.
"That I am and William tells me your name is Robin?"
"Robert actually, my father called me Robin as a pet name" he replied falling back against the pillows. His head throbbed and the room swam before him.
"Enough exertion for one morning, the doctor is on his way. Right now why don’t you get some sleep and I'll have the chambermaid bring you up a tray. Then you'll have a good hot bath and we'll talk about those dreams you were having.
I have been told I have the ability to translate dreams, and by the way you were talking, you will be requiring my services" she smiled warmly, long auburn hair tumbling over her shoulders. She reached down and patted his hand as if he were a child even though from her outward appearance they had to have been about the same age. He smiled in return and as he looked up at her again he noticed the striking resemblance she had to his own Marion. But it took too much effort to hold his eyes open to study her further and as he drifted off to sleep.
He mumbled "Thanks Olwyn" accrediting the magician for making his great, great grandmother look like Marion-as if that were in his power.
"Strange young man" mumbled Antoinette rising from the stool and covering
Robin, "I have the feeling he has an amazing story to tell"
This time Robin's sleep was that of a relaxed nature but not restful. In this venture, he was visited by Merlin himself. With a background of swirling stars and moons Merlin appeared veiled in white robes with a long majestic white beard and hair. He, like Olwyn, carried a long dark wood staff topped with a glass globe that appeared to harness the powers of the world within.
"Why do you summon me"? he bellowed like the thunder.
"I...I did not summon you" Robin stammered under the power of the sorcerer.
"Whether it was with your mind or your voice, you summoned me. What is your request" asked the sorcerer eyes narrowing to a slit.
"I want to go home" Robin said softly his head dropping forward staring at the ground. He felt a bit foolish troubling the almighty Merlin with his own personal problems but already he missed Sherwood and his friends.
"I see..." Merlin looked up at Robin and smiled. It was not a mocking smile but rather a comforting smile. Something Robin hadn't expected from someone as great and mighty as Merlin. "I have heard of your efforts in the name of King Richard. Your life has followed the path planned for you for generations and you have not deviated away from it. But first, Robin of Locksley,
I have a request of you".
"You have only to ask" Robin said again bowing his head.
"Your great great grandfather is about to make a decision that will change not only his life, but your life and all of history" Merlin began. Robin went to speak but Merlin waved his hand silencing him.
"Patience lad..." he said softly, "You have to assist him in making that decision. Heading him in the right direction. But you must do it as a friend, he cannot know your true identity. You must remain here long enough, Robin, to befriend
William, win his confidence, and change history. After that is completed, I will use my powers to return you to the Sherwood Forest you know. That is all I can do for you. Olwyn will be here to guide you. Trust your instincts" and with that he vanished and Robin awoke.
He sat bolt upright looking around at his surroundings. He was alone in the room with a single candle lit at the far end of the chamber. It was now dark and from the sound of things there was some kind of party going on downstairs.
There were several trays of food piled in one corner on a chest, of course, untouched. Robin swung his legs over the side of the bed and walked over looking out of the window watching the carriages arrive and depart leaving off its passengers. He could hear laughter and watched as people stood in the warm summer nights air waving lace trimmed hankies and talking in a very animated fashion. Robin looked down at his dirty blue tunic and brown suede pants and ran his fingers through his dirty sweaty hair.
He certainly was in no shape to attend a gala ball. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a door open from his bedchamber into another room. He grabbed the candlestick and hurried through the door noticing an anti-chamber containing a writing desk, several comfortable chairs, and a large brass bathtub filled with water smelling of lilac. There was a beautiful fire burning brightly next to the tub keeping the water a tepid temperature. Draped over one of the chairs was black silk pants, a white full sleeved silk shirt with a wide gold sash to compliment the outfit and black shiny knee-hi soft leather boots leaning against one of the chair legs. In all of this depression Robin finally found something to make him smile.
Not only did he feel incredibly uncomfortable from being so dirty. He really wanted to attend that ball and see if he could find any indication what the heck Merlin was talking about to he could get a few steps closer to going home.
Robin peeled the sweaty garments from his sore body and slid slowly into the
fragrant water. Even though it no doubt had cooled considerably over the hours, the water felt so good he tipped his head back and soaking down his long sable strands. He found a sliver of lard next to the tub and worked it feverently into a lather soaping his muscled chest and arms, his face and worked the suds through his hair with his fingers.
"Can I assist you milord"? came a sweet voice from the door.
Robin jumped swinging quickly around leaping to his feet and, seeing a servant girl standing with a long section of fabric. Her eyes quickly took in his strong body in its nakedness, and blushing, Robin quickly slid back into the water.
"No, I'm fine thank you very much" Robin whispered looking down at the water.
"They tell me you are ill and to check on you but I founds your bed was empty so I finds ya in here" she said ignoring his statement and walking to the side of the tub. She reached down into the tub and finding the lard worked it again into a lather and began soaping up his back, "So I says Margaret, you'd better see what yous can do for our young guest" she went on.
"Really...I can manage"
She continued to wash his neck and face until Robin pushed her hand aside, "Its ok...I'm getting out now..."
"I'll help you dry and dress" she said with a familiar smile.
"No. I can dress myself. If you wouldn’t mind leaving for a moment, I will only take a second and you can lead me to the ball" Robin said motioning her with his hand to leave.
Slowly she exited the room eyes showing disappointment and Robin withdrew from the tub towel drying himself and slipping into the clothing left for him. He was amazed at how well it fit but realized it must belong to William who was comparable in size to Robin being a direct relation. Running his fingers through his wet hair, Robin exited the room feeling refreshed and in better spirits knowing there was a way to go home even if that way was yet foreign to him.
He accompanied Margaret down the circular stairs with her being the most talkative female Robin believed he had ever encountered. Within the distance it took to descend two floors and a lengthy hallway, Robin found out that William and Antoinette had only been married a short while and had just come into a sizeable fortune willed to them by Williams Grandmother. Along with this castle, were several other estates plus a sizable amount of coin and jewels. Not to mention the dowry he had received upon his marriage to Antoinette. But this money was not secure as the neighboring estate, a
Count DeMarco was out to obtain Williams vast holdings to start his own province separating from England.
Of course, William flat out refused but the Count made it clear that he had connections with the underworld and would have it even if he had to take it. This shook up William emotionally as he had a strong belief in the occult and the underworld and feared not only for his lands but his new wife after noticing how Count DeMarco eyes roamed freely over Antoinette on his last visit. Robin quickly wondered if this was what Merlin referred to about making a decision that would change history.
What if these lands...what would eventually be his family's lands, fell into the hands of this Count DeMarco who did start his own country? They reached the door.
"Milord..." Margaret broke into his thoughts with a start.
The huge oak doors swung open and the page standing inside asked him his name. Robin paused for a moment...then decided to play his hand.
"Robert of Locksley" he replied.
End of Part 53
By Shelly Quinn
The crowd of people who listened to the announcement of the new arrival gave a collected gasp as the name echoed throughout the great hall.
William strode forward. He stared at Robin. "Robert of Locksley?" he repeated. "How can that be? We are related, young sir?"
Robin nodded, offering a dimpled grin. "We are, my lord," he replied.
"How interesting," Antoinette drawled, as she moved to join her husband. Her eyes roamed over Robin from head to toe. "You look exquisite," she proclaimed, then giggle when the young man blushed.
"Come now, Robin," Antoinette teased, as she reached for his arm. "Surely I am not the first woman to tell you so?"
"And surely I am not the first man to feel awed by your beauty, mi lady," Robin replied, as he swept her an elegant bow.
William was stunned by the gentle bantering of his wife and Robin. He glared at them both, then locked eyes with his wife. "Did you not hear what he said?" William exclaimed.
Antoinette blew her husband a kiss. "Of course I heard him, luv. I'm not deaf. Robin said that he is related to you. So?"
"It's not possible!" William hissed.
"It is possible," Robin interjected, his eyes pleading with William to listen. "May we retire somewhere, my lord?" he beseeched. "We need to talk."
William nodded. "To the library," he replied, turning to lead the way. He was suddenly oblivious to his roomful of guests, all of whom were watching.
Antoinette asked that everyone resume celebrating, begging to be excused momentarily, then she led Robin off to follow William.
As the trio left the great hall, black eyes
followed the man called Robert of Locksley. Eyes that were cold and held
an infinite darkness. Count DeMarco smiled to himself. He felt a kindred
spirit in Robert of Locksley. It would be interesting to discover whether
the man was friend...or foe.
"Who are you?" William demanded, the moment the doors to the library were closed behind the three.
Robin sighed. "You probably won't believe me, but I'm your great grandson. Better known as Robin Hood."
William stared at the other man in disbelief. "Are you insane, man?" he shouted. "I should have you hung for your blasphemy!"
"William!" Antoinette hissed, moving to cut her husband off before he could strangle Robin. "Be silent and listen to what Robert has to say," she chided. But gently, one hand lifting to stroke William's cheek. A calming gesture.
"I would prefer Robin, if you don't mind," the outlaw beseeched, even as he shot Antoinette a grateful look. He wasn't afraid of William, but he did not want to run the risk of hurting his ancestor.
Antoinette nodded. "Robin," she repeated. "Tell us your story," she requested.
So Robin told them everything. About the Djinn and his subsequent arrival here. About his life in Sherwood, a century from now. He spoke of the fall of Locksley and touched briefly on Prince John. But Robin was careful not to go into too many details. He did not mention that he was immortal, nor that he had powers. And he made certain that Merlin's visit remained a secret. Once he had finished, it took only a glance at William's face to tell Robin his great grandfather didn't believe him. "I speak the truth," Robin insisted.
"I don't believe in magic!" William hissed. It was a blatant lie, of course. William did believe in magic, but wrongfully assumed that all magic was dark and evil. Like the kind Count DeMarco had connections too. William feared magic and sorcery. The mere thought of it made his blood run cold. "You are an imposter!" William shouted, a finger stabbing at Robin. "I think that Count DeMarco hired you to get close to me. Just a trick of his to steal my lands and my wife."
"Enough, William!" Antoinette snapped. She loved her husband dearly, and was an obedient wife, but she also had a mind and a will of her own, and she was not shy to display either. She had a bit of a temper as well. "I believe Robin," Antoinette declared, her eyes locking with the young man's as she spoke. "He tells us the truth."
William shook his head. "It is magic!" he hissed. "Dark and evil. Meant to deceive us!"
Robin grimaced. "But you said that you don't believe in magic, my lord," he reminded William.
"I don't!" William snarled, but they both knew it was too late to lie. "What do you want from me?" he demanded, moving to confront Robin.
"I want to help you," Robin said softly. "I want to protect my future. My lands."
William sniffed. "According to your own story, Robin...you don't do such a good job of it. You lose Locksley to Prince John."
Robin nodded, feeling a flicker of pain and shame and William's accusation. "Tis true," he allowed. "But I was a sixteen year old boy when Locksley fell to Prince John. My father, your grandson, died in his attempt to save our lands. He died a noble death. And I fight a noble fight for the people of England. I fight to protect the throne, so that King Richard will have a kingdom to return to. And when he does return, I will reclaim Locksley. It will remain in our family, my lord. I promise you that."
"I know it will," Antoinette said gently, one hand patting Robin's shoulder. She heard his pain, and saw it shimmer in his dark eyes as he spoke of his lands and his people. She saw something else as well, as she looked at him, and pointed it out to her husband. "He has your eyes, My lord," Antoinette whispered. "And your mother's hair. I see your father's smile as well. All the best of the Locksley features."
"Aye," William conceded, grudgingly. "And how prettily they have come together."
Robin felt himself blushed again and moved to the window to hide it. "Who is Count DeMarco?" he asked.
William drew a breath. "Evil incarnate.." he whispered.
"He's greedy and powerful," Antoinette replied. She went to Robin and took his arm. "Come, we must return to the ball. We will talk more of this later, when our guests are gone." Antoinette guided Robin over to her husband, then stood between the two men, linking arms with them. "Robin will be introduced as your cousin, my lord," she said to William.
"As you wish!" he grumbled, for William was
no fool. He had learned, long ago, to bow to his wife's wisdom. But they
would have a long talk later as well. In the privacy of their bed chamber.
But, for now, they would return to the ball and dance until dawn.
The ball was a success. The guests were thrilled to meet a relative of William's, especially one as beautiful as Robin, and the young outlaw drew women to him like bees to honey. Robin found himself claimed for every dance and found that he was enjoying himself, but he was also curious to learn more about Count DeMarco. Robin had been surprised to learn that the Count was a guest of the ball. But Antoinette had pointed out that politeness decreed he be invited.
After begging a respite, Robin made his way out onto the balcony, lifting his face to the cool night breeze. It felt wonderful against the flush of his skin caused by his exertions on the dance floor.
"You're the Prince of the ball," a low voice commented.
"I beg your pardon," Robin countered, even as he whirled around to see a man dressed in black, with a crimson red vest, smiling at him. He knew at once that it was the Count DeMarco. Knew something else as well. The Count was not what he seemed. He had powers. Robin could sense this, because of his own. But DeMarco's powers were dark.
The Count studied Robin, from head to toe, and let the younger man feel the heat of his gaze. It pleased him that he allowed it, dark eyes gazing back at him without wavering. "Delighted to make your acquaintance, young Robert," the Count drawled, as he offered an elegant bow.
Robin smiled and inclined his head. "The pleasure is mine, Count DeMarco. And please, call me Robin."
"Robin then," DeMarco replied. "Tell me...do you hunt?" he queried.
"On occasion," Robin allowed. "Why do you ask?"
The Count laughed. "I loved the chase," he said softly. "Tracking my prey. It's something I'm quite good at so I indulge myself often. In fact, I'm squiring a hunt come dawn. It would please me if you would join the party, Robin."
The invitation surprised Robin, but he found himself accepting. What better way to know an enemy than to become his friend. "I would be honored," Robin replied.
"Good," the Count drawled. "Then I will see you at dawn. Do you know my estate?" he asked.
"I'll find it," Robin assured him.
DeMarco sketched another bow. "I'll take my leave then. I see that Lady Antoinette has come to claim you." That said, the Count nodded to William's wife the glided off.
Antoinette made a face as she watched DeMarco leave. "What did he want?' she asked, pointedly.
"To invite me on a hunt," Robin replied, and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I think that the count and I shall become the best of friends," he declared.
"Indeed," Antoinette replied, a smile of her own lighting up her face. She knew what Robin's intentions were and she approved. But that was not to say that she wasn't concerned. "Be care, Robin," she beseeched him, for she had already become fond of the beautiful young man.
Robin took Antoinette's hand and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. "Do not worry about me, my lady," he replied, a jaunty grin revealing dimples in his cheeks. "I'm hard to kill. And better men than the Count have tried."
Antoinette shivered at Robin's morbid words.
"Let's dance," she bade him, tugging on his hand and leading him back into
the ball room. And for the remainder of the night, Robin and his Great
grandmother were able to forget about the Count, and the darkness that lingered
in the shadows.
End of part 54
Part 49 & 50 / Part 51 & 52 / Part 53 & 54
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