A bird flew out of its nest, frightened by a man bathing in a stream below it. The tall man cupped his hands in the water, raising them; he let it flow down his body. Plunging his head in the moving waters, he pulled it out, whipping it back, the long brown hair making an arc of water as it flew behind him. Humming softly, the outlaw began to clean himself. Unknown to him a pair of brown eyes stared out from a bush.
The intruder slowly made his way to the small pile of clothes neatly folded by the banks of the river. With the outlaws back to the thief, the pilferer began to gather up his things. Listening carefully for any change in the humming of the bather. So intent on the hummer, the robber did not see the shadow behind him. Until it was to late. He hollered out as a knife was placed on his neck.
Hearing a noise behind him the Outlaw Robin Hood whirled around. His large brown eyes spying two men scuffling on the riverbanks. Quickly he made his way to help his friend.
"I donít know who the Ďell you are. But takiní a mans garments is about as low as a man can gets!" The knife holder grunted out.
Robin rushed out of the waters. "Hold him Will!" He called out to his companion. The two were returning from donating money to a small village, it was said that they were hit hard during the winter. The food supplies were low, they were two days away from Sherwood. Will Scarlet struggled to hold onto his captive, but he quickly realized that he would have had a better chance of holding onto a wild cat. The man fought with all the ferocity of one. The thieves long brown hair flew in the air, obscuring his face. Robin quickly picked up his breeches, he pulled them on as he reached for his long sword that lay under his clothes.
Will gasped out in pain as the thief elbowed him in the stomach. The unknown thief whirled out of Wills grip, spinning around, he backhanded Will. Will released the knife he held, dropping it on the ground as he fell on his backside. As the longhaired man stooped to pick up the fallen weapon he felt a sword at his back.
"Stand up very slowly." Robin Hissed. "Other wise your going to have a problem putting your shirts on with a sword in your back."
Will let out a chuckle. He was resting on his elbows. "Iíd do as Ďe says. One thiní Robin donít like is to Ďave someones tries to takes Ďis clothes." Giving Robin a quick wink he added. "íSpecially after Ďe takes Ďis morniní bath."
The assailant raised his hands up in remission. Standing up straight he slowly turned to look at Robin, his long brown hair obscuring his face, he was taking in deep breaths, flinching as the swords tip pierced a deep scar on his exposed chest.
"Very nice." Robin said in a controlled voice. "Will, you all right?" Robin called out to his friend.
Will placed his hands behind his head on the forest floor, bending his knees, he flipped himself up. "Couldnít be betters, Itíll take more than that love tap to takes out Mrs. Scarlets little boy."
Robin gave Will a warm smile. "Would Mrs. Scarlets little boy please search this man for any hidden weapons?"
Wills laughing brown eyes shined brightly. "Would be me pleasure."
With Robin keeping the man at bay with his sword, Will began to search the unknown man. He quickly found a hidden dagger in the mans boot.
"Once a thief always a thief." Will held the knife up to the mans face. "I knows all the tricks oí the trade." Will spun the knife around, plunging it in his belt. He then continued with his search, the man kept his head down, his face remaining hidden behind a sable curtain.
As Robin stared at the silent man he was reminded of another man he had seen at an earlier time. A man that Robin had thought he killed. Parting the curtain of hair with the sword tip, Robin found the mans chin, slowly he began to move the head up. The hair moved to the side, revealing what Robin had feared. The face that stared back at him was to Robin like looking at a mirror.
"Jacobi!" Robin hissed out. "I thought I killed you!"
Jacobi let out a low chuckle. "Oh Iím a lot tougher than you thought Robbie!"
Will was taken aback, he had heard of Jacobi from Robin, he really didnít believe him when he told him the tale of the look alike killer. Slowly Will walked around the man. He examined him more carefully. His hair was the same as Robins, long, brown, falling just past his shoulders. Although Jacobis was a little more wild.
Will was more amazed as he looked into Jacobiís face. He was identical to Robin Hood. His eyes a deep liquid brown, a neatly trimmed goatee, also the same as Robin. A half grin on his face, with a dimple popping out. Even tho the man was identical to Robin, in looks and build, Will Scarlet could easily tell the difference.
It was the eyes, Jacobis were dark and brooding, almost evil looking. While Robins were kind and warm. Their souls were as different as night and day.
"Well, well." Will laughed out. "As I live and breathe. I guess I owes you an apology Robin."
Robin motioned for Jacobi to sit on the ground; he didnít want to take any chances with the killer. As he sat down with a plop, Will explained himself.
"You know, I thought you were pulliní me leg there. Telliní me abouts a double, someones called Jacobi." Will shook his head in amazement. "Imagine my surprise to find you were telliní the truth."
Robin handed his sword to Will, motioning for him to guard Jacobi while he finished dressing. "Apology accepted." Robin said as he pulled into his sleeveless blue jerkin.
Picking up his boots he stamped his feet into them. "Now then, Jacobi, why were you trying to steal my clothes?"
As Robin waited for his reply, he began to fasten his sword and bow on. Jacobi just stared up at Robin, an ingratiating grin on his face. Will was beginning to become impatient. He poked Jacobi with the tip of the sword in his side.
"Answer the man!" Will warned him, poking him again.
Jacobi hissed out in anger, swatting the blade away, Will immediately brought it back. "Iím not Ďessitant to put a few Ďoles in a man to gets at the truth, now tell Robin why your Ďeres."
Jacobi remained quiet; a smirk glued on his face.
"Keep that ups and it will stick." Will chuckled.
Robin walked up to Jacobi; he stared down at the murderer. The last time Robin had seen him was over a year ago. He thought he had killed the man, but it seems he didnít quite finish the job.
He was about to ask Jacobi how he was able to survive their last meeting, when the sound of a horn pierced the quiet morning.
Wills eyes grew wide in alarm. "Thats the Ministeriales!" He gasped out.
Robin grabbed Jacobi by the arm, roughly pulling him up. "What have you done Jacobi?" Robin demanded of him. Jacobiís head jerked around as the horns call grew louder. He jerked himself out of Robinís grip.
"Nothiní I tells you, I donít know why theyíre chasiní me."
Will groaned out loud. "You gots them chasiní afters you?!"
With the sound of the horns call growing louder, Robin knew they had to get as far away from here as quickly as possible. The ĎMinisterialesí were unfree Knights that fled Swabia, a land that lay to the west across the waters. German Saxons, they fled there land to escape the wars that they were bred to fight in. They had taken over a small part of England for themselves. Prince John allowed it for one reason alone.
He was terrified of them. The Ministeriales were the cruelest and fiercest fighters on the planet. No one dared to cross their paths. This clan called themselves the Salians, after the first King that began to use their services. A bloodthirsty lot, Will and Robin had planed on avoiding their land, but it seemed that Jacobi had brought them with him. If they were angry enough, there was no talking to them. Robin and Will ran for their horses, jumping on them, Robin pulled tight on the reins to his stead. He was almost pulled off of his horse as Jacobi jumped up grabbing Robinís arms.
"I ainít stayiní Ďere!" Jacobi yelled out, he clutched desperately at Robin. "Theyíll kill me if they gets their Ďands on me."
Robin tried to kick the raving killer away. "Whatever you did Jacobi, Iím sure you deserve it."
Will brought his mount alongside Robin, he tried to help Robin pull Jacobi off of him. The horses suddenly began to buck as a pack of snapping hounds came pouring out of the underbrush, running across a small meadow.
"Damn!" Robin cursed out. They were to late. The wild dogs always precluded the coming of the Salians. Robin tried his best to calm his mount down; its eyes were wide with fear, as it smelled the hounds drawing near. It raised itself up on his hind legs, throwing Robin off, before it fled into the forest. Wills mount also bucked him off, with Will landing on his back in a huff, he tried to reach out for his stead, but it was to fast, it followed after Robins horse.
"Well that cuts it!" Will shouted out, slamming his fist into the dirt. His anger quickly fled as the hounds drew near. Ten large hounds loped towards them. Will jumped up to stand by Robinís side. Jacobi joined the two outlaws.
"I needs a knife." Jacobi whispered out. "At least let me Ďave a fightiní chance."
Will did not hesitate to pull out Jacobis knife from his belt, handing it to him. Will also drew two of his own out. Robinís sword hissed as he drew it out of its leather scabbard. The three waited for the hounds to come to them. Each had their weapons held out infront of them. The hounds were almost upon them now. Will glanced at Robin, giving him a quick wink, Robin returned it. They fought side by side many times. As long as they were together they knew they would somehow survive this.
The hounds were only a few feet from them, when they stopped with a wail of a horn. They slowly circled Robin and the others. The three had their backs to eachother, keeping the hounds at bay.
"Hold dogs!" A cry was heard. Robin glanced back to see a small army ridding towards them, cutting across a small meadow. It was as they feared, they were the Salians. Dressed in their dark red leather jerkins, and blood red leather pants. Each mans hair ran past there waist, it flew in the air as they rode closer. Carrying large battle-axes and studded war clubs in their hands. All had the blue eyes and blonde hair of a Swabian. The clan kept their blood line true, not intermingling their kind with the English Saxons, or Normanís.
The man who called out to the dogs, pulled the reins tight on his horse, the steedís hooves dug deep into the dirt, coming to a stop. He quickly jumped down from his mount, holding his battle-axe infront of him, the others followed suit. Robin counted twenty men before him. He faced them without fear, it was the only language they understood.
When the hounds stopped circling, Robin confronted their leader.
"Who is this that stands before me?" Robin asked with authority.
"I ask this of you..." The man hesitate for a second. Glancing at Robin and then at Jacobi.
"They are twins!" One of the men wailed out. "It is a bad omen!" Another cried out.
Robin and Jacobi looked to eachother, in their eyes they were as different as night and day. They really couldnít see the resemblance.
"íe ainít no relative oí mine." Jacobi spit out.
Robin stepped forward, holding his sword infront of him he stated to them. "I am Robin Hood, who might you be?"
"So you are the infamous Robin Hood." The leader chuckled, patting his axe in his open palm. He was the largest and oldest of those present.
"I am Ordulf the enforcer." He said, slapping himself on the chest with his fist, holding his axe high in the air.
"And I am Will the Scarlet." Will said with a laugh on his lips, slapping himself on the chest, holding his knife high in the air. Robin hushed Will with a look. He had gotten into many a fight because of Wills untimely sense of humor. Will backed off, keeping his ever-present grin on his face.
"Why are you here?" Robin asked Ordulf.
"Why do you let it speak to you that way Ordulf?" A small man asked the enforcer, he glared at Robin and Jacobi. Will grinned down at the small man, he was almost a dwarf.
"Let me handle this Magnus." Ordulf pushed the younger man back, chagrined by the elder member of the clan, he backed away.
"I am here because a member of my clan was killed." Ordulf explained to the young outlaw. "But we are confused, as to which one of you is him."
Robin tried to explain the similarity to the elder of the clan. "Please believe me we are not related, itís just a coincidence that Jacobi and I look so much alike."
A young man of twenty stepped up to Ordulf. "Do I have permission to speak Ordulf?"
The elder gave his head a slight nod. "You do Bernard."
"I think it is possible that all three of these men killed my wifeís father."
"So do I Ordulf." Magnus shouted out. "I know these men killed my father." Ordulf whirled around to look at the younger clan members. "Think of what you have just said, for if it is true you will condemn three men to be binded to your family."
"Wots that youíre talkiní abouts?" Will shouted out. "Wot does you means binded to Ďis family?"
Ordulf hushed Will with a look. "If this it true then you have no right to speak!" He yelled out.
Robin gave Will a concerned look, he had heard of how the Salians handled crimes done on their land, they were known to instill their own form of justice.
"Eilika told me of how the man looked and talked elder." Bernard explained. "But there are two here that look alike and there are two here that talk alike. Perhaps it was the three that killed her father?"
Ordulf rested his battle-axe on his shoulder, studying the three young men that stood before him. He could not let the three of them go, not without Eilika looking at them first.
"I have made my decision." Ordurf decreed. "We will be taking the three of them with us, to let Eilika tell us which one is the killer of Otto the Hunter."
"Wait a minute!" Robin began to protest. "Weíre not going anywhere with you."
"SILENCE!" Ordulf yelled out. "You have no right to speak until we know
which one of you are innocent and which are guilty."
"Oh I knows whos the innocent ones Ďeres." Will began to say, he was silenced as a whip was lashed in his direction, connecting with his back. Will arched his back with the hit. Robin whirled around, slashing at the whip that lashed out at his friend, he cut the tip of the whip off. Will jumped up from the ground, if they wanted to take them, Will and Robin was not going to make it easy. They stood back to back, making their stand. The Salians would soon learn what it was like to go against an outlaw. Robin and Will would be glad to show them.
The End of Chapter One
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