Robin felt it important to explain to his father some of what was happening, of his time travels, of how he knew his destiny. His father listened in wide eyed wonder never doubting his words because of what he had seen in the last year with his son.
"Why did you not tell me this before"?
"I didn't know how you would react" Robin smiled warmly. He basked in the knowledge that his father believed him. The Earl marveled in the fact that as they sat and talked for hours, he no longer was talking to his young son but was talking to a man-his equal in every way.
"So what is your, er, mission as Robin Hood"?
"I can't tell you too many details, father for I fear the temptation might be too great to change what is to come and I have seen what can result from making too many changes"
"You almost paid with your life" his father sighed, eyes clouding over.
"Father, that was not you", Robin now admitted, "That was born of magic. Do not blame yourself".
His father forced a smile. "So. My son will be a leader".
Robin blushed with sincere modesty "The Normans will assume even more power than they have now father. They will torture our Saxon people starving them, burning their homes, taxing them beyond their means. They needed someone to help them, to guide them".
"MacGregor explained to me how you become the champion of the people,
noble and peasant alike. Son...I am so proud of you" his father said, eyes
beaming. Robin's eyes teared up as he took his father into his arms hugging
him tightly. "I have waited a lifetime to hear you say that" Robin sobbed
against his shoulder.
As Robin stood at the edge of Sherwood watching his father ride off and somehow he knew that this was the last time he would ever see the man. As if Merlin had allowed him the chance to explain why he had chosen the life he had. He was able to set things straight and say good bye, something he was never been allowed to do and it filled him with warmth. He dried his eyes and turned to go to meet Little John knowing he still had so much to do, time was running out. Over the past six months he had been devising a plan, a plan in which he could outsmart Mortiana and save both Olwyn AND Andrew.
But it involved timing...precision timing and no one could know of his intent. And if it failed, he wanted Little John to be able to take over for him so-he began grooming the gentle giant for the job. As he approached the stream he stood for a moment watching John skimming rocks off of the surface of a still spot in the body of water. Robin thought of all the adventures that lie ahead for him and this man who would become closer to him than a brother. A man who would save his life countless times. A man he would depend on for so many situations. John looked up from the water as if he sensed his presence. "You all right?" he asked as he watched Robin dry his eyes again. "Fine" the young man answered.
"Settle those things that needed settling"?
Robin tipped his head to one side in bewilderment, a smile slowly creasing his lips, "How did you know"?
"Just did" something Robin knew as time went on they could always do with each other. Sense when the other had a problem.
"Come on my friend, we have a lot of work to do" Robin said unslinging his bow.
"Robin, my shoulder aches from your archery lessons yesterday" John protested/
"You'll heal - but not if Prince John catches up with you 10 years down the road and you can't defend yourself" Robin chided.
John smiled and followed Robin as he walked back into the depths of Sherwood.
As the next few months passed, Marion began to meet Robin at Sherwood’s Edge after sending word with MacGregor of her impending visit. They had chosen a "favorite" tree to sit beneath and talk for hours, but never again did Robin attempt to hold her or to kiss her realizing now that if he altered that part of history too severely, neither of them would be able to concentrate on their mission.
Saving the Saxon people. And Marion, after listening of Robin's plans for Sherwood and what he would do for "his" people, understood why without even asking. One sunny afternoon as Robin sat beneath their tree with Marion, working diligently on carving their initials deep into that tree with the point of his dagger, he heard the rustle of leaves to one side of him and swinging around was quick to see Little John approaching in a full run.
"What is it John"? Robin asked watching the large man struggle to catch his breath.
"Robin, Sean has just brought word that King Richard has been captured and Prince John has lost his mind with the sudden power he has received. He is levying impossible taxes on the people of the villages. Taxes they could never possibly pay"!
Robin looked at Marion, then back at John and said in a very deep voice beyond his years "It has begun, we must hurry".
Over the past few weeks more and more men had come to join Robin, hearing of his intent to fight the Norman lords and retake control of their lands. They had began to build a more intricate camp than originally constructed under Robin's guidance. It was only a couple of weeks to Robin's 18th birthday and not knowing how his plan would work out, knew he had to speed up history to compensate for this lack of knowledge. Tree houses were constructed for look outs as well as fences and gates. As Prince John's taxes hit the farmers and villagers and their homes forfeited to "The Throne", more and more people fled to the safety of Sherwood and this hero that would help anyone who asked.
More than once now Robin and his men had come up against the Princes soldiers and stole back some of the tax money returning it to their rightful owners, thus causing his reputation to grow and grow. Standing in the middle of the compound, Robin was pleased with what he saw. The boy was now fully a man with rock hard muscle brought about by hard work and physical activity as did Little John who could now work a staff, shoot an arrow and wield a sword almost as good as Robin. Sherwood would be safe in his hands.
As Robin walked towards the campfire in the center of the compound the evening before his 18th birthday, so many thoughts ran through his head. He knew he could never allow any harm to come to either Andrew or Olwyn and worried about what Mortiana would do should his plan fail.
"Robin, I don't think I've ever seen you so upset" John said putting a large hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"Just a lot on my mind Little John".
"Don’t be discouraged Robin" John said motioning around him "Just look what you have accomplished in the last 8 months, how many people you've helped".
"John" Robin started very seriously, "If anything ever happens to me, promise me you'll keep Sherwood going, keep the dream alive".
"Robin...don't say such a thing"!
"Promise me John" Robin said grasping his forearm and squeezing so hard he hurt the giant.
"I promise" he quickly said then watched the man relax, "Robin-what is it"?
"Just a bad dream my friend" and Robin rubbed his eyes settling back for what would be a sleepless night.
As the sun rose above the roofs of the crudely built huts, Robin looked up through blood shot eyes as the gate to the compound opened and in rode Andrew MacGregor.
Robin leaped to his feet in surprise "What are you doing here"?
"I remember the bargain you struck with that Witch about your 18th birthday son" the older man replied accepting a hug from the dark haired young man.
"Look at you...you've grown since the last time I saw you. And how the people speak of their champion, Robin Hood. Your father be so proud lad".
Robin blushed under the weight of the compliment but in his mind thought of
Mortiana realizing she was seeing to it that the cast of characters was assembled.
The compound was still basically in a slumber in the early morning hours, which
Robin was pleased with not knowing what lie ahead. There was a ray of light that hit the ground in front of him containing sparks and a silver mist then materialized Olwyn startling Andrew. "Do they all appear in such a grand fashion"? he asked his student.
"Basically......yes" Robin smiled.
He went to Olwyn and greeted him in the same warm fashion he had met Andrew in.
"You look well" the magician said with a smile, then looked around him "And
I see you have managed to get to the same point in history but by different means".
"My father lives Olwyn" Robin beamed.
"We will talk about that" the sorcerer solemnly replied but before they could go any further there was a small explosion out of which stepped Mortiana. "I see we are all here" Mortiana smiled "Olwyn, it has been a long time" Olwyn nodded in recognition of his equal in the world of magic. She turned to Robin "You have made your decision"?
"What decision? Robin...what is going on"? MacGregor beseeched.
"I have Mortiana" Robin faced the evil sorceress.
"And who will it be then"?
"I have given this much thought and finally understand why you are doing what you are doing. This helped me greatly with my decision".
Mortiana laughed "Perhaps you would care to share that with us". Robin smiled confidently in return "If I kill Olwyn, I will never learn the necessary lessons needed to become Robin Hood, Outlaw of Sherwood. There will be no one to lead the people thus leaving the way clear for your precious Prince John. If I kill Andrew, he won't be around to teach me how to fight and win against Prince Johns men, how to outsmart them. Again, Robin Hood will never come to be and again Prince John will succeed".
Robin took out a white handled dagger out of a sheath and with great skill and talent spun the point on the palm of his hand as he looked up at Mortiana. The witch had a very surprised yet very impressed look on her face.
"Olwyn, you have chosen well and Robert of Locksley, you are truly wise beyond your years. So...how do you plan to handle this, what decision have you made"? The black capped woman asked patiently.
"That if the end result is to keep me from becoming Robin Hood, Outlaw of Sherwood, it seems senseless to kill an innocent man to achieve this goal.
"What are you saying Robin"? Mortiana said taking a step closer to the outlaw.
"That I might as well eliminate your problem at the source" he said with a confident smile. Then flipped the dagger around holding it by the handle and plunged the long silver blade into his own chest through his heart dropping to the ground dead.
By Shelly Quinn
Robin felt pain and resisted it, wanting to fall back into the black velvet darkness. No pain there, just sweet oblivion. But a voice kept calling his name. So he opened his eyes to see Marion staring at him. Her blue eyes were dark with shadows. "M...Marion.." Robin whispered.
She smiled at him and tears filled her eyes. "He's awake!" she shouted. "Tuck! Robin's awake!"
"What...what's going on?" Robin asked, making the attempt to sit up, but Marion pressed her hands to his chest, holding him down. Robin discovered he was too weak to protest.
"Rest easy, Robin," she bid him, then stepped away from the bed so that Tuck could take her place.
The Friar laid a hand to Robin's forehead. "Fever has broken," he announced to his companions, which included Kemal, Little John, Lord Drake and the Lady Johanna. They had all kept vigil over Robin for the past three days. Ever since he had ridden into camp and fallen from his horse. No wounds were apparent, yet Robin had been deathly ill and burning with a fever. Tuck had feared that they would lose him. "You're going to be fine, Robin," Tuck said now, as he smoothed a sable curl off his young friend's forehead.
Robin smiled at Tuck. "What happened?" he asked, his eyes flickering over the faces that were crowded about his bed. The last thing he remembered was confronting Mortiana, with Andrew and Olwyn by his side. Then he had stabbed himself. One hand moved over Robin's chest. There was no wound. And suddenly he realized what he was seeing. Kemal, Tuck, Lord Drake and Johanna were all from his present. Robin was no longer in that past. "My father!" he whispered.
"Your father?" Little John echoed, as he moved to take Tuck's place beside Robin. He wanted to hug his friend, but was afraid of hurting him. Robin appeared fragile to him. Pale and thin. He had suffered through so much in the past year, and more still in the time that he had been missing. "What about your father, Robin?" Little John beseeched.
"Where....where is he?" Robin queried, his eyes locked on Little John's face. He had changed history, at least a part of it. He needed to know just how much.
It was Marion who answered him. "Robin...your father is dead," she said softly. She didn't understand the question or why Robin asked it, but she answered him true. "Remember? He died at Loxley, when you were sixteen."
Robin nodded, blinking back sudden tears. "I remember," he whispered. "Was I ill?" he asked.
"You had a raging fever, Robin," Tuck replied. "I thought...well...that we were going to lose you."
"You nearly did," boomed a voice. There was a shimmer of light and Olwyn stepped out of it. He looked at everyone gathered around Robin then shooed them towards the door. "Robin and I must talk...alone," Olwyn declared.
Marion didn't trust Olwyn much, because he was a magician and she hated magic. But she respected him and she knew he would never cause Robin arm. So she herded the others outside. "We'll be close by," she called over her shoulder to Robin.
He smiled at her. "I know." Once she and the others were gone, Robin looked at Olwyn. A single tear rolled down his face. "I couldn't save my father," he whispered, his voice hoarse with sorrow.
"We must sacrifice the one to save the many, Robin," Olwyn replied. "You have come full circle now. Back to the beginning as it was meant to be."
"What do you mean?" Robin countered, brushing the tear from his face with one hand. He then tried to sit up, but Olwyn was over him, pressing him down.
Sitting down on the side of the bed, one hand lying over Robin's heart, Olwyn explained. "What happened in your past, your journey back and the choice you made to die. That was all meant to be, Robin. You changed things back to what they are now. You are what you have always been, Robin Hood. The man who will lead England to victory. The champion of the people. A mere, mortal, man."
Robin gasped as understanding of what Olwyn was trying to tell him dawned. "I'm not immortal any more!" he exclaimed.
"No...you're not," Olwyn confirmed. "Which means you must not act foolishly, Robin. Your life is precious, to many. Myself included."
"I'll be careful, Olwyn," Robin promised. He felt more tears roll down his face and wasn't sure if he was happy or sad.
Olwyn knew that Robin was still exhausted, so he brushed a hand over his eyes and whispered, "Sleep, young man. You've earned it."
And those were the words that Robin took with him into warm darkness.
End of Part 72
Part 67 & 68 / Part 69 & 70 / Part 71 & 72 / Part 73, 74 & 75
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