Pandora's Castle
By Virginia Cavazos
Chapter Twelve

Robin and Marion rushed through dark corridors. Leaving the ballroom and whatever dark creature that now posed a threat to Marion behind.
"What are we going to do?" Marion whispered to Robin. Grasping a fallen sword on the ground, he declared, "We find a way to get you out of here."

Along the way, they were able to find a quiver of arrows, and a bow. Marion felt safer now, with Robin armed. He was magical with a bow and arrow. Robin clutched his side, as they walked down the stone corridors. He did not have to fake an injury back in the ballroom, to coerce Marion back to him. When the table slammed into him, the injury was genuine.

He tried to hide a limp, but Marion already knew that he was injured. Marion read Robin's expressive eyes very well. As determined as he was of getting her out of the castle. Marion was equally determined to get Robin out, as well…no matter what the cost.

"Stay back!" They both heard a man cry out. They raced down the corridors. Finding a set of stairs, they flew down them, stopping at a junction between floors. Robin held his sword defensively before him, hesitating to go any further. What lay in front of them, was a scene out of a childhood nightmare.

Out of the stone walls, through a large crack, thick green vines snaked their way into the castle. The screaming came from a man Robin never expected to see alive. Jacobi was fighting for his life, the vines had trapped him in the center of the stairs.

"I ain't goin' to end up as lunch for a bloody demented, daisy!" He defiantly screamed, as he latched out with his knife. Each branch that he cut immediately began to sprout out two more.

"You're making it worse," Robin shouted.

"I’m a 'ired assassin, not a bloody gardener," Jacobi snarled, as he slashed at a vine.

"How can I help him?" Robin wondered out loud.

"Why would you want to?" Marion countered.

"Marion, no matter what he's done. I cannot just stand by and do nothing."

"Robin, sometimes you're to good," Marion sighed.

"I 'ate to break up this cheery conversation, but me bum is about to become plant food!" Jacobi screamed. "I 'ate vegetables," he growled, as he sliced into a thick green vine, immediately it sprouted into two more. If he kept it up much longer, he was going to be incased in the vines.

Sure he was going to regret it later, Robin decided he was going to do what he can to save his evil counterpart.

He rushed towards the large crack, where the vine was growing out. The base of the vine was nearly as thick as his arm. Raising his sword, he drove the point into the crack. Sparks flew, as he worked on enlarging the crack. Splinters of stone lashed out, as he continued to ram his sword into the crack.

"Marion, quickly I need some of the dead vines," he panted.

Marion snatched up several of the vines that Jacobi had previous cut. They were dry, and brittle. Dodging the vines, she ran to Robin. He told her to drop the dead vines into the hole he made.

Taking the torch she held, he touched it to the dead vines. He had to jump back, as the dry vines instantly ignited. Taking Marion's hand, he pulled her away from the growing flames. "Now's your chance," he screamed to Jacobi.

Jacobi leaped over the writhing vines. He followed Robin up the stairs, the vines quickly followed them. Jacobi suddenly slammed into Marion, as she came to a stop.

"Don't stop now!" Jacobi gasped.

"We have no choice," Robin panted. The stairs ended at solid wall. "Who ever built this castle is goin' to 'ear from me if I don't gets out of this alive," Jacobi growled.

"Let's hope you don't get that chance," Robin said. He gazed down the stairs, the vines were snaking their way up. The fire he set was not burning fast enough to save them in time.

"It's not going to stop them," Marion sung out. The vines quickly reached them, but mysteriously stopped short.

"Something's stopped them," Robin said.

"Wot now, 'ero?" Jacobi snarled.

"Quickly, do you have an extra dagger?" Robin asked Jacobi.

Pulling a second dagger from his belt, he threw it at Robin. He deftly caught it by the hilt. Without hesitation, he threw it at one of the vines. It sliced it several feet down.

"That's your plan to save us?" Jacobi shouted.

"No," Robin grunted, as he lunged for the tip of the severed vine. "This is."

He dragged the vine towards them. Throwing it over the banister, he tied one end on the railing. He assisted Marion over. She quickly began to climb down to the floor below.

"After you," he invited Jacobi. Throwing his long legs over the banister, he slid down the vine.

"Hurry Robin," Marion urged him. "The vine is getting brittle."

Robin could see that the vine was turning a dark brown. Leaping over the railing, he scrambled down the vine. He felt the vine breaking apart in his grip. He was forced to jump down the last remaining feet.

He grimaced in pain, as he landed hard on the stone floor. His injury to his side giving him a painful reminder of its presence.

He had to cover his head, as the remnants of the dead vine rained down on him. He heard Jacobi let out a cry of pain. Gritting his teeth from the pain in his hip, Robin rushed over to help him. He saw him clutching his cheek, several drops of blood were oozing out.

"Damn thin' cut me," Jacobi growled. "I've always 'ated vines." Robin attempted to look at his wound, but Jacobi shook off his intentions.

"I'll be fine," he mumbled. Tearing off a piece of his shirt, he wrapped it over the wound. It covered nearly half of his face. "This'll do until we get out of 'ere," he said.

"What was that you said, about hating vines?" Robin asked the killer.

"I was caught by soldiers once, because of a vine," Jacobi quickly explained.

"Jacobi, before the vines appeared, what were you thinking about?"

Jacobi didn't hesitate to answer, "Why I was thinking it would be my luck, that a vine would get me in trouble 'ere."

It began to make sense to Robin now. It seemed the castle used nightmares, fears, and childhood dreams of those trapped in the castle to help destroy them. It was then that Robin noticed that Jacobi was dressed identical to what he wore. "How much did Guy pay you to impersonate me?"

"As far as I'm concerned, not enough!" Jacobi barked. "I didn't intend on riskin' me life in this cursed castle."

"Neither did I," Marion shot back, with the same intensity as Jacobi.

"Look," Robin shouted, as he stepped in between Marion and Jacobi. "Regardless of how we got here, I think we all agree that we need to work together to get out of here alive."

"I've always worked for gold," Jacobi sniffed.

"Sorry, I left my pouch of gold in my other pants!"

Jacobi's dark eyes avoided Robin's glare. "You decide Jacobi," Robin said. "What's worth more to you. A sack of Gold, or your life?"

Spinning the blade of his dagger on his fingers, Jacobi clutched the handle. Cocking his head, he said in a deep voice, "Lead the way, 'ero."

Letting out a tired sigh, Robin gazed around. They were standing in a large hallway. Glancing up, the staircase, he saw the flames had finally fully engulfed the vines. He searched for a way out of the castle.

They were surrounded now, not by doors, but endless corridors. Marion lost count on how many hallways lead away from them. They all continued down, into pitch darkness.

"Robin, look out!" Marion cried a warning.

A large, flaming branch of the vine was falling from above. Robin tried to get out of the way, but the pain hi his hip caused him to stumble. As the flames from the vine neared, a dark shadow flew out, slamming into Robin, and pushing him out of harms way of the flaming vine.

Robin was surprised that it was his evil twin had just saved his life. When he saw the questioning gaze from Robin, Jacobi shrugged his shoulders.

"Momentary insanity," he gave as an explanation.

Marion rushed over to Robin. She felt dirty from the lascivious gaze from Jacobi.

"I 'eard that you were quite a laydee," he purred. Licking his lips, he rumbled, "I sure would like to be given a chance to find that out."

"The only way that'll happen, will be on my death bed," Marion snarled.

"You got the bed part right," Jacobi said with a chuckle.

"Enough!" Robin sighed. This was the second time he's had to break them apart. "We have to work together. Fighting amongst ourselves is just what the evil in this castle wants."

Clutching the medallion that Lilith gave him, Jacobi nodded his approval. He held it tightly in his hands. If not for the medallion, the vines surely would have killed them all. It managed to keep the vines back, just as Lilith promised. If he was going to get out alive, he needed to keep Robin inside. He smiled to himself, for being so clever. Faking a wound to his cheek, he managed to hide his similarity to Robin. Lilith would mistake Robin for him, and keep him in the castle. If the spider woman kept her promise of Robin's friends not being harmed, he would be able to leave the castle alive.

Marion helped Robin stand. "First, let's see how far the corridors go," Robin said.

Pulling out an arrow from his quiver, he dipped the tip into the flaming remnants of the vine.

Drawing his bow, he shot the arrow down a corridor. It flew true, in the center of the hallway. In seconds, it seemed to be swallowed by the darkness. Seconds later, they heard an animal howling, as if in pain.

"That was smart," Jacobi snarled. "Just want we don't want to do, make this castle angrier with us."

Ignoring him, Robin took another arrow. He tried a second corridor. This time they saw the arrow arch up in an impossible position. The corridor seemed to follow it, until it was out of sight.

"I don't like the looks of that," Jacobi said.

"Neither do I," Robin chorused his concerns. Glancing up, he said, "The stairs are out of the question." The vine was ablaze with such an intensity, Robin was sure it would burn for hours. Not enough time would be left for them to leave the castle before dawn.

"Wot do we do, flip a coin?" Jacobi asked.

Robin was about to take that suggestion, until he heard a sound that caused him to close his eyes in relief.

"Robin, Marion! Where are you?" he heard a familiar voice cry out from one of the endless corridors.

"That's Little John!" Marion declared.

Robin let his head fall back, he shouted as loud as he could, "We are here!"

Seconds later, they heard Tuck shout, "Where is here?"

"We're in a large hallway, with many corridors," Marion shouted back.

"So are we!" Tuck answered.

"Great! We have no idea which corridor they are down, and they have no idea where we are," Marion said.

"You don’t 'ave enough arrows to check each one," Jacobi grumbled.

"I have another idea," Robin said. "Its about time we got the castle to help us." "What do you have planned?" Marion whispered. Robin didn't answer her, he closed his eyes, recalling something that happened to him a long time ago.

Marion watched Robin carefully, he seemed to be in a trance. Feeling a strong breeze, she folded her arms for warmth. She became concerned, as the breeze grew stronger. Looking over Robin's head, she could swear a black cloud was forming. In seconds, a flash of light zagged out of the cloud, to land by Robin's feet.

Soon they were all being drenched by a torrential thunderstorm. "Wot the 'ell did you do that for?" Jacobi shouted to be heard above the thunder. They rushed over to a corner, the storm raged madly in the room.

"I finally figured this castle out," Robin explained. "It feeds off of our fears, and dreams. When I was a small boy, I was lost in a thunderstorm. It took me years to get over my fears, but deep inside, the small boy in me never got over it."

"I'm 'appy for you," Jacobi sweetly said. "But wot the 'ell does it 'ave to do with savin' us?"

Robins answer, was cupping his hands to his mouth, he shouted, "Listen for a storm. We're on the other end!" Glancing over, Jacobi saw water building up on the floor, with no where to go, it flowed down the corridors. "That must 'ave been some storm," Jacobi spit out. He was soaking wet.

"It raged for hours," Robin said.

They all waited for a reply from Tuck. It soon became hard to stand up, the winds buffeted them around. They all breathed a sigh of relief, when they heard Little John loudly declare, "We've found your corridor."

"Great," Jacobi growled. "Now wot do we do? If they come 'ere, we'll all be trapped."

"You're right," Robin said. "Stay there!" he warned his friends. "You'll be trapped if you come here."

"Then come to us," Robin heard a different voice say. He immediately knew it was Olwyn.

"Olwyn! Can you help us?"

"Follow the light," he heard Olwyn reply.

Robin immediately jumped from the safety of their corner. He searched each corridor, looking for a sign from his old mentor. The water in the room had risen to knee length. He could hear the sounds of angry creatures down the many corridors. His plan has backfired. Not only was he able to have his friends find him, but he attracted the attention of the evil creatures that inhabited the castle.

"Robin, look out!" Marion cried a warning. He was knocked down, by something large, and smelly. Unfortunately, he fell on his sword. He struggled to bring it out, but the weight of the creature prevented him.

"Get off of 'im!" Jacobi shouted. He pulled his knife out, pretending to stab the creature. In his other hand, he grasped the Medallion that Lilith gave him. The creature let out a yowl, and leapt off Robin's back. Jacobi slashed the creature several times. With each swipe, he held the medallion tighter. Howling in pain, the creature bounded down a dark corridor.

"Robin, down there," Marion panted, as she helped him stand. He saw a ball of light floating down a corridor. "We have to follow that," Robin gasped.

The water had now risen to waist level. With his prior injury, Robin was finding it difficult to move through the water. Jacobi rushed over to help him. With Jacobi on one side, and Marion on the other, they struggled to wade through the waters. What should have taken them seconds, seemed like hours. Finally, they reached the corridor where the ball of light was waiting for them.

They quickly followed it. The farther they walked through the corridors, the shallower the water became, until they finally were walking on dry carpet.

It was minutes later, that they walked out of the corridor, into a large foyer. Robin immediately collapsed on the floor. He heard feet rushing towards him. He was glad to see Little John, Tuck, and Thomas finally were able to reunite with them. He was not happy to see Sir Guy was with them. He became concerned when he saw Olwyn and Master MacGregor.

"Is he well?" MacGregor asked.

"I'm fine, just exhausted," Robin tried to shrug off the attention of his old teacher, but Andrew MacGregor knew Robin well enough, that he was not fine. He also knew that if he were injured badly he would not hide it. Whatever was wrong, it would have to wait to be attended to until they were safely out of the castle.

Now that they were finally all together, it was up to Olwyn to safely find a way out.

"Olwyn, which way?" MacGregor asked him.

Olwyn planted his staff, he closed his eyes in deep concentration. A frown ran across his face, his deep voice rumbled. "Something has changed."

"What do you mean?" Thomas asked.

"There has been a shift in the balance within the castle," Olwyn replied. Opening his eyes, he ominously said. "Robin is not the only one in danger now. There is another evil here, which has set its sight on Marion. Unless we can get them both out of this castle before the dawn arrives, England is lost!"

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