"Precisely my young man!" The man agreed.
Robin gazing at the man had judged him to be not much older than himself. Standing up, Robin brought out his hand and said.
"My name is Robin Hood. And yours is?"
The man slowly stood. He placed his handkerchief in front of his nose. As if covering a foul smell. Nodding his head he said.
"You are Robert of Locksley."
"I no longer go by that name." Robin stated.
"Perhaps not. But you are still a Locksley."
"And you are?" Robin asked again, not wanting to debate the man.
The man Brought his gloved hand out. Shaking Robins he said.
"I am Joshua Strong."
Little John gasped "Not *The* Joshua Strong?! But I thought you would have been alot older."
Robin was amazed. "And I thought you were a myth." He gasped out.
Joshua in a impatient voice said. "Your thinking of my grandfather."
John nodded as he realized his mistake. Bringing out his hand to shake Joshuas’ Little John said. "Well if your half as good as your grandfather, then you’ll be a great help in catching that wolf!"
"Yes." Robin agreed. "We’ve been tracking that wolf ourselves. We could really use your expertise in catching him. Can we count you in?"
Joshua propped his staff up. Leaned on it for support, he again squinted at Robin saying. "Let me get something straight with you! I am not my Grandfather. I don’t track for free. A man has to eat!" Taking in a deep breath, he let out a large sneeze. Wiping his nose again with his ever present handkerchief he gave Robin a shrewd smile.
"I’ll do it for a fee."
Robin went off to the side to console with the others. After taking a toll on how much they carried Robin again approached Joshua. Joshua had remained in the same position during the debate.
"If your as good as your grandfather?" Robin began.
"I am!" nodded the tracker.
Robin repeated "If your as good as your Grandfather? Than we can use your help. Will this be enough?"
Robin handed Joshua a small bag of gold. Joshua opened it and searched into it. Closing it he started walking toward the forest, using his staff for support. Turning he waved the others to follow.
"Well if you want that wolf it went this way!" Pointing at the horses he said. "You’ll have to leave them here. We’ll never be able to get within two miles of that wolf with those around. Just bring some things with you. This might take some time. That wolf is the smartest one I’ve come across......." Sneezing again, "In years." he finished Turning, he resumed his walk towards the forest.
Robin just raised his left eyebrow.
"Nice man." He remarked.
"Yeah." Marion added. "A real charmer."
As Robin headed back towards the horses he informed Tuck. "You can take the horses back to camp. Marion, Little John and I will go with Joshua."
Taking a small sack from his horse. The others did the same. Robin could see that Little John was anxious about joining the hunt with Little John briskly following Joshua he cried out.
"Come on Robin. Lets hurry! Before we lose him. "
Seeing that Joshua was almost out of sight Robin laughed out.
"Don’t worry Little John. After all, we have the second best tracker in England here."
John looked puzzled. "Whos that Robin?"
Robin pointed his finger at Little Johns chest. "Why you my friend!’
John grinned from ear to ear. "Of course."
Laughing the three then started to follow the master Tracker.
"We’ll see you in a couple of days." Robin called back to Tuck.
Tuck waved to them. "Take care, and be careful."
"Always!" Robin answered
As they followed the strange man Robin asked John. "Little John what do you know of Joshua Strong?"
"Well I heard about him when I was boy. Or at least of his Grandfather.
There was a time, I had heard. When a little girl was missing. It’s said that Joshua was able to find this girl. In the dark, in the pouring rain!"
"Quite a feat." Robin remarked.
"Yes. I always wanted to be like him. Think his grandson might be willing to teach me?" Robin had never seen John look so excited, Robin assured him.
"I’m sure he will."
"I hope so!" Little John eagerly said. He then walked quicker, to catch up to Joshua.
They searched the woods, through out the day. At times it seemed they were very near to catching up to the large wolf. But each time the trail was misleading. After several hours of fruitless searching Joshua suddenly stopped. Finding a small clearing he sat by a large tree. Settling himself down, he looked up at the others.
"It will be dark soon. We’ll make camp here." He flatly stated.
Looking up at the darkening sky Robin did see that the sun would be setting soon.
"I guess we’ll make camp here." Robin humbly said.
They gathered up some fire wood. Making a large fire, to keep the Wolf away from camp. As the night came John spent most of it talking to Joshua. Joshua Answered Johns questions, with either a nod or a grunt. All the time he seemed to be keeping an eye on Robin and Marion.
As the sun set they supped on some Meat and Cheese, that Tuck had given them. Finishing the meal, Joshua stretched, and yawned. Pulling his hood over his head he stated.
"I’ll take last watch." And promptly went to sleep.
"Kind of pushy, isn’t he?" Marion whispered.
Joshua pulled his hood back, looking up he said. "I usually work alone. If you don’t like it, you can hunt for the wolf on your own!" Recovering his head with the hood he then went back to sleep.
"Touchy." Robin whispered to Marion.
"Yeah, but great hearing." She quietly replied.
Robin settled himself next to the fire. He eyed Joshua suspiciously, the man was a strange one. As Marion sat next to him he warmly smiled at her.
"You get some sleep. I’ll take first watch Then you, Little John, and Mr. personality there." Robin said pumping his thumb toward Joshua.
"I’m glad you said that I’m beat." She sighed.
Taking out a blanket She made a place for herself near the fire. John was already laying near Joshua.
Feeling a slight tang of jealousy. Robin stayed by the fire. Stoking it several times with a large stick. They had to make sure the fire burned all night. Wolfs were afraid of fire. Hopefully this wolf would react the way others did. Though Robin noted that this wolf acted totally different from any wolf he has known.
The hours wore on. Several times Robin found it difficult staying up. But was always awakened by Little Johns snoring. As it neared the time for Marion to take over the watch Robin realized that there wouldn’t be enough wood to keep the fire going for the rest of the night. Standing up he brushed himself off and went off into the forest to look for some fire wood.
When his arms were full of fallen branches, he prepared to go back to the camp when he heard a strange sound come from behind him. Throwing the kindling on the ground Robin pulled out his sword. Taking on a defense stance he listened more carefully. Every muscle was flexed for any possible situation. Looking around he knew that something was not right. Robin felt the hairs on the back of his neck go on end.
As he was about to turn back to camp a sound came to him from out of the night. It was soft and light at first. As he listened to it, he realized something was wrong. He found that his sword seemed very heavy. Trying to keep it up was proving to be impossible. The sound seemed to permeate his very soul, its was so beautiful. Never had he heard such wonderful music. The sword soon became to heavy for him to carry and he dropped it to the ground. Robin now knew of only one thing, he had to find the music’s source.
Walking deeper into the forest, it opened up to reveal a large clearing. The music seemed louder here. Stopping, Robin could see a wolf standing on the other side of the clearing. A gentle breeze blew at his back. His heart skipped a beat. The villagers were right, it was as large, if not larger than they had said. The wolf nervously paced back and forth. Robin was enchanted by it, most of its body was a light gray, but its ears were snow white. The wolf stopped pacing as it saw Robin in the distance. Robin swayed as the hypnotic music continued.
Raising its snout, the wolf smelled the air. Slowly bringing its snout down, it then started walking towards Robin. Robin, totally mesmerized by the music, stayed where he was. As the wolf approached Robin a transformation occurred. It suddenly changed into a young, beautiful Woman. Her long, flowing white hair ran down to her waist. Her clothes were few, long strips of cloth of blue gossamer fell from her shoulders. Concealing those parts that needed covering. Around her neck she wore a large golden necklace, formed into an ancient symbol. Her eyes were a brilliant light gray. They seemed to glow in the night, as she approached Robin. Lightly laughing, she slowly came up to Robin.
Placing her hand on him, she dragged it across his shoulders as she circled the stunned young outlaw. All the while he remained frozen, staring blankly ahead. Smiling evilly, the woman leaned forward towards the outlaw, breathing in heavily, She stepped up to Robin and smelled his neck and chest. Smiling she softly whispered.
"Yes! You have ancient blood. Royal blood. Oh, it smells so sweet!" She giggled.
She seemed to be intoxicated by Robin. As she inhaled more deeply a look of recognition came to her face.
"I know that smell. Your a Locksley!"
Softly Giggling, she danced around Robin. Leaning on his back she sighed out. "I met one of your ancestors. A very nasty man by the name of Richard." Rolling on Robin, she went infront of him. Pouting she said. "I didn’t like the way he spoke to me. So I placed a curse on his family." Looking delighted she giggled. "I’m glad it didn’t work. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here."
Standing in front of Robin she examined him more closely.
"You are a handsome man!" Feeling his arms her eyes lit up. Slowly she released his belt and took his tunic off. Stepping back she examined him up and down. She ran her hands on his chest . A wicked smile came to her face.
"Also in very good condition. Strong, ancient blood. Perhaps?"
She brought her hand up, gently stroking his face with her long fingernails. Her other hand tangled itself in his long sable hair. "Perhaps you are the one!" She said outloud. She gripped his hair in her hand. Pulling on it. Bringing his head down to be closer to hers
Looking deep into Robins brown eyes she realized that maybe her hunt was finally over, this could be the one for her? Releasing him she spun around, she could sense someone coming near.
Turning back to the enchanted outlaw, she took Robins left hand into hers, Quickly she began to chant a ancient spell, as she used her nail to make a large cut along his palm. Robin remained still as she worked her magic.
"I have marked you Locksley." She chanted out. "You are to be mine. I will come for you later my Love!"
Giving him a quick kiss she released his hand, turning she ran across the clearing. As she headed towards the forest, she transformed back into a wolf. Glancing back for a second, she then disappeared into the darkness of the night.
End of Chapter Two