Web Of Deceit
 
By Virginia Cavazos
 Chapter Four/ The conclusion
 
Chapter Three

Back in the hall Robin waited until all the guests left before he went back to his room. He walked back to the banquet table to retrieve his coat. He notices a servant clearing off the tables. Looking up at Robin he gave him a warm smile, Robin gladly returned his smile,

"If you do a good job." Robin gently said. "I’ll give a good word for you to the Prince."

The dark man bowed in gratitude. "Thank you Master Robin."

"Please." Robin pleaded, somehow he felt uneasy at any man calling him Master. Patting the man on the back the young outlaw replied. "Robin will do. And your name is?" Robin truthfully wanted to know the mans name.

The dark servant offered him a small smile, giving him his hand he replied. "My name is Kemal."

Robin gladly shook the dark mans hand, it somehow felt right to him to make friends with this servant. "Pleased to meet you Kemal." Kemal searched into Robin’s eyes to see if he acknowledged him. But no spark of recognition was there. Breaking off the handshake, Robin turned to leave, Kemal decided he had to try something else.

"Master Robin!" he called out. Robin turned a dimpled grin on his face.

"Please, just Robin."

Kemal bowed his head. "Robin, is it all right if I let, Tuck, Little John, and Marion help me?"

Robin smiled widely once again "I’m sure it will be all right, as long as the job gets done tonight."

Robin then turned and left the great hall, as he left Kemal heard him tell one of his guards, "Take me to the Tack room. I have something that needs to be done tonight!" With that said he was gone.

Well now it was confirmed, Robin really did lose his memory, it was far worse than Kemal had originally thought. With the way things were now, there would be no possible way Kemal could steal Robin out of the Princes castle. Robin was just not in the right frame of mine, Kemal knew that he would probably fight him all the way. And besides there were just to many guards around. Throwing down the dishes he was picking up, he rushed towards the kitchen and flew out the back door. He knew he had to leave quickly, to inform his friends of what had just transpired. Once he joined them they would come up with a plan of getting Robin out of the castle and back to Sherwood. Sneaking out the way he came, he found the horse that he left tied up outside he rode hard into the night to meet with his companions.

* * *

The Sun had just begun to rise over the horizon, Prince John woke up to his servants gently shaking him.

"Your Highness. Please wake-up!" A frightened man pleaded.

Tucking the covers under his chin, Prince John opened up one eye. "Wheres Barkley!" He bellowed.

"Sire." The man humbly bowed. "Barkley informed us to prepare you for the hunt."

Prince John shot up out of bed, of course the hunt! He had to get ready for the hunt with Robin Hood. As the men began to dress him he told them. "You never answered me, where is Barkley." One of the dressers explained as he buttoned Prince John’s coat. "He’s with Master Robin Sire."

John mumbled softly to himself. "Master Robin?"

"Oh yes sire!" The groom explained enthusiastically. "He said he wanted to have everything ready for you for today’s hunt. Barkley and Master Robin are in the stables right now readying your ride." Prince John strode to his window and gazed out into the courtyard. He saw Barkley and Robin by the stable, grooming a pair of horses.

Prince John told his servants to hurry in their dressing of him, he was eager to begin the hunt. He quickly walked toward the stables, a spring in his step. It had been a long time since he was on a hunt with someone other than Barkley. This was going to be fun!

As he entered the open courtyard leading to the stables he heard Robin and Barkley laughing. As Robin saw Prince John, he stopped grooming the horse he was working on and came to greet the Prince.

He walked up to the Prince, his long brown hair was tied neatly behind his head. "Good morning your highness." He greeted the Prince, his smile was wide and joyful, John noticed that Robin was wearing his old clothes.

"Why are you wearing those?" He pointed to his tunic.

Robin looked down at his clothes. "But sire, you said these were my hunting clothes!"

John tried to cover up his mistake. "So I did."

Robin eagerly asked the Prince. "Your Highness, did you sleep well?"

Prince John nodded his head. "Yes" He answered, with a grin curving his lips, Robins grin was becoming infectious. "To be honest with you I haven’t slept that well in years."

"I’m happy for you sire!" Robin truthfully said.

John just waved his reply off "Yes, Yes my boy, now then what have the two of you been up to?"

Barkley quickly jumped into the conversation. "Oh, Sire we’ve been busy for hours. It’s going to be the best hunt you’ve been on in years. Right Robin!"

Robin nodded to Barkley. "I hope you approve your highness." He stepped back to show the things that were prepared for the hunt. John searched around the courtyard. The men were mounted and prepared for the hunt, Robin made sure to bring two trackers, ten of the finest of the princes guards were chosen to ride with the Prince, incase of any trouble that might come along during the hunt. Robin was very through the Prince thought everything seemed to be in order.

Grinning widely Robin walked back to the steed that he was grooming "I hope you don’t mind sire, but I picked out your mount for the hunt."

Prince John just casually brushed him off. "Yes, yes thats fine. It’s just an animal Robin."

Robin turned to face Prince John, a hurt on his face. "But sire, a horse is not just an animal! How would it look if the ruler of England was riding a broken down nag." Robin gently stroked the horses nose. "I picked this one out just for you your highness. His name is Caesar sire, he’s the best your stable has to offer. Strong, noble just like you Sire. After all, when riding, the Horse is a reflection of yourself. Your life is in his uh hooves?" Barkley chucked at Robin’s joke. John looked down at the ground, avoiding Robins smiling eyes.

"I’ve never really been good with animals. They seem to hate me. And for the most part the feeling is mutual!"

"Nonsense Sire!" Robin scoffed. Taking the reins, he brought the horse up to the Prince. He grabbed the Princes hand, bringing it up to the horse’s head; he showed him how to stroke the horses nose. Prince John was at first hesitant, he allowed Robin to let him pet the horse. A tired look was plastered on his face, as Robin kept up the stroking the horse let out a contented nay; a small smile found its way on the Princes face. As Robin released his hold of the Princes hand, Prince John kept up the stroking of the horse’s nose. The horse whinnied out with delight, Prince John’s smile grew larger.

"He really does like it!" he exclaimed, a look of delight on his face as the horse nuzzled his chest.

Robin stood back, folding his arms on his chest. His eyes glowed in admiration as he watched his Prince enjoying himself. Noticing the sudden attention Prince John stopped petting the Horses nose. Clearing his throat he said. "Yes, um I think we should start the hunt now!"

As the Prince attempted to mount Robin called out "Wait sire, I have something for you!" As Prince John acknowledged Robins beckoning, Robin took out a small object from his pocket, and handed it to the prince.

Prince John examined what Robin handed him. It was a small piece of leather strapping.

"What is it?" He asked as he rolled it around in his hand.

"I made it to help you bow hunt sire. So you could get that trophy you’ve always wanted!"

With one eye opened, Prince John gave Robin a skeptical look. "How does this work?" He asked, holding it out to Robin.

Robin took the leather device from Prince John, he placed the leather tong on his shooting fingers explaining as he attached it to the Princes hand.

"It came to me last night as we talked about your problem you highness, I remembered an old trick that someone taught me when I was young. A way to help you shoot arrows with out getting nicked by the string. I made this for you last night." As he finished putting the device on, he handed the Prince a bow and arrow. "Go ahead sire, try it." Prince John just looked sheepishly at Robin, he had given up trying to bow hunt so long ago, he tried everything as a small boy. How could this piece of leather make that much of a difference? Seeing the hesitation from his Prince, Robin pleaded with him. "Please sire, I know it will work. Just try it." His large brown eyes entreating him to give it a try.

"Fine!" John shot back, knowing this was the only way to prove to Robin that he was incapable of shooting a bow. The Prince mumbled softly to himself as he prepared the bow. "But I know it won’t work!" He pulled the bowstring back and let the arrow fly. The arrow flew straight and true into a barrel a few paces off. Prince John's eyes went wide, he turned to Robin with a look of shock across his face. "It flew straight." he stammered out.

Robin nodded his head with glee, "Yes your highness!"

Prince John stared down at his fingers. There was no cut there the Leather straps did there job. Walking quickly to his mount, trying not to look to enthusiastic he said. "Lets go hunting!"

Barkley and Robin glanced at each other and laughed. Mounting Caesar the Prince pulled on the reins. "Well aren’t you coming!" He impatiently roared.

Robin and Barkley ran to their mounts. "Yes sire!" they both exclaimed. Prince John then rode off in the lead, the rest of the party followed after him.

They were three hours out before his trackers had spotted any deer that might be worthy enough for a trophy. Prince John came up to one of the trackers, he was on the ground examining a set of tracks.

Robin was standing beside him, he was also looking at the tracks.

"Well!" bellowed Prince John. "Do you have anything yet?"

The tracker checked the marks again and again, he sadly shook his head. "No sire. These tracks are at least a day old. I believe this to be a cold trail."

Prince John noticed Robin shaking his head at the trackers remarks.

"What is it Robin?" Prince John asked.

"Well, sire." Robin explained as he stooped down, placing his hand on the tracks on the forest floor. "I think hes wrong, the tracks appear to be old but this stag is smarter than we think."

"What do you mean?" asked the tracker as he stood up straight, looking down at the young outlaw.

Robin pointed toward the back of the hoof print. "I think hes walking on old tracks to mislead you!"

The tracker threw his head back and laughed heartily at this. "Deer are as stupid as my wives brother! No stag is smart enough to hide its tracks!"

Robin tilted his head and half smiled up at the tracker. Both eyebrows lifted when said. "And I think you’re wrong!"

The tracker turned to the Prince, pleading with him. "Your Highness, I have tracked deer for you for many years now. When have I ever steered you wrong?"

Prince John didn’t want to debate with this man. He just wanted his trophy stag. "Why don’t we try this." Prince John offered. "You and my men go further up the trail to see if you can possibly find a set of new tracks. Barkley, Robin and I will follow the Old tracks and see where they lead. The first one to find something will call the others."

Prince John paused, proud of the logical solution he had come up with.

"Yes sire." the man bowed and immediately left with the Princes guard in tow. Robin leaped up on his horse. Slowly they followed the set of old tracks. As they rode for 20 minutes Robin suddenly stopped his horse and quietly motioned for the others to be quiet. This of course was practically impossible for the Prince.

He hissed out. "Whats wrong Robin?"

Robin jumped down from his mount and rechecked the tracks on the ground before him. "Sire were close to the stag." Robin whispered back. "From the size of the tracks I think you’re going to finally get your place in the dinning hall!"

Prince John started fumbling with his Bow. "Is it close by?" he softly asked.

Robin went ahead a few paces, parting a tall bush he searched out into a small clearing. He had to hold back a gasp of surprise as he found a large stag feeding on a patch of new clover. Every so often it would pause, bringing its magnificent head up, it listen for any foreign noise, satisfied that it was alone, it would continue with its eating.

Robin silently made his way back to the Prince. He whispered for the Prince to come down off his mount. Leading him to the bush he helped the prince to kneel down. Slowly he parted the bushes again. The stag was still busy eating, Prince John was having a hard time holding back his enthusiasm. This stag was by far bigger that anything that Richard had killed.

Finally he would be able to better his big brother. His hands shook as he placed an arrow in his bow. As he drew the bow back Robin placed his hands on the Princes. John turned to look at him. "Relax!" Robin whispered. "Take a deep breath, hold it and shoot!" Prince John nodded at his advice.

He took in a deep breath, slowly pulling back on the string. Holding it he brought the stag into his line of sight, holding his breath he let the arrow fly. It flew straight to the Stags heart. The arrow plunged into the noble beast’s chest, but it was not deep enough for a kill. Robin, noticing the weakness of his Princes first attempt, quickly drew his own bow and fired immediately after Prince John. The Prince never noticed the second shot as it flew after his. He was too excited when he saw the deer stagger and fall.

Jumping up he whooped for joy. "Yes! I did it." Shaking his fist in the air he cried out into the empty forest. "See Richard I can do something better than you!" Looking at the large stag he couldn’t believe he was the one that killed it. Robin quickly walked to the fallen beast and removed his arrow before the Prince was able to see it. A large smile creased his face as he glanced back at the Prince. "A good clean kill your highness." He called out.

Prince John walked up to the stag, it had been a long time since he felt this excited. Barkley saw a look on his Prince that he hadn’t seen in many years.

The Prince was actually smiling at him, a warm contented smile. "Barkley! Do you see the size of this beast? Its magnificent."

"Yes your worshipfulness." Barkley exclaimed. "I think King Richard is gonna be jealous!"

Prince John turned the smile on his face was hard to get rid of. "Yes Barkley! And he would have a right to be. God will you look at the size of that rack!" Robin pulled Barkley aside as Prince John slowly walked around the animal trying to figure out the size of the beast.

"Barkley, see if you can find the Princes guard." Robin gently asked the Princes aid. "We’re going to need many men to bring the kill back to the castle!"

"Sure Robin." Barkley agreed, he ran to his horse, grunting out loud as he pulled himself up on his horse. "I’ll get them right away!" He said, grabbing the reins to his horse, he rode off in search of the Princes guards.

Prince John was beside himself with joy. He seemed like a young boy, as he muttered to himself. Robin just stood back and nodded silently to the Princes remarks as he rambled on.

"I can’t believe that a simple thing like this strap kept me from getting my place in the trophy room." he ranted on as he walking around the deer for the fourth time. He was still unsure it really was dead, he half expected for it to rise up and run off.

"You don’t know how long I tried Robin. All the times I would cut myself. And Richard would just laugh at me, but whose laughing now eh Richard. Me!" Prince John hit himself on his chest. "Because I finally did something better that you my dear brother." exhausted from his tirade, Prince John sat on a large rock at the center of the clearing.

Robin leaned up against a tree, propping one foot on the trunk of the tree he smiled to himself, contented for the joy he brought his prince. Prince John looked up and saw Robin warmly looking at him. He suddenly realized that he was beginning to like this young outlaw. Robin was his most hated enemy, yet he was beginning to think of him as a son. He suddenly felt something that he hadn’t felt in years, a kinship with a man that he felt was an equal. Staring at the stag he murmured out.

"You know Robin, sometimes its hard being in charge all the time. There are always decisions to be made when you wear the crown of England. Never any rest. " He softly sighed out.

Robin nodded at this. "I imagine it would." he answered.

"Hmm, I suppose you could." Prince John eyed this young man, afraid that perhaps his memory was coming back. But he saw no hatred coming from Robins warm brown eyes, only admiration and genuine affection for him. Something that was foreign to the Prince of England. Winking up at Robin he said. "Let you in on a little secret." Looking around to see that anyone was listening Prince John whispered.

"Its also very lonely being the Prince of England." Robin again nodded at this. Taking a stick from the ground, Prince John started tracing lines out in the dirt.

"It’s not easy my boy." Prince John began to pour his heart out to this former outlaw. He somehow felt at ease with him. "The Lords and Earls are always complaining that I’m not allowing them to keep enough of the taxes I take. When I know full well that they’re keeping most of what they take, and sending me a quarter of what I should be receiving."

Prince John began to stab the stick into the dirt. "Most of them covet my position. Knowing if I died, and Richard did not come back one of them could be the next in line to be king."

Prince John broke the stick in half. "But the worst is they shun me Robin. They’re afraid of me. Lately they won’t even come to visit me. Its been getting very lonely."

Robin had a thoughtful look run across his face. "But sire, have I not been there for you?"

Prince John realizing his mistake hastily tried to cover it up. "Of course my boy, of course. Why you’re the only one I trust with my life!"

Robin smiled to himself at this. Prince John closed his eyes and let out a nervous sigh, that was a close one. As Prince John was about to continue with his ramblings, Robin’s head jerked around. He pulled out his sword from behind his back.

Prince John jumped up from where he sat, searching into the bushes he asked in a hushed voice. "Whats Wrong Robin?"

The hairs on the back of Robins head stood on end, his instincts told him that someone was coming their way, many someone’s. Robin knew he had to protect the Prince, he insistently pulled the resisting Prince toward where the horses were tied. Helping the Prince mount Caesar he quickly cried out, the tension evident in his voice.

"Your highness, You need to leave now! "

"But why?" roared the Prince. As he said this he saw the reason for Robins concern. He found they were quickly surrounded by a group of hooded men. The concealed men encircled them. Robin stood in front of the Prince, brandishing his sword before him, ready to defend the Prince at the cost of his own life. The Hooded men stood unmoving before the Prince of England and the Prince of thieves. Two men parted, and Damaris strode boldly towards the shocked Prince John.

End of Chapter Three
 

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
 Chapter Four/ The conclusion
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