Web Of Deceit
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Four

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" Damaris chuckled as he slowly pulled his sword from its sheath, whirling the sword in his hand; he pointed the point towards Robin’s chest.

"Where are your archers to back you up now Robin Hood?" he said with a satisfied smirk on his face.

"What is the meaning of this Damaris?" John howled!

"The meaning your highness is that the other barons are tired or you. Tired of you taking most of the taxes that should be coming to us. We all feel that its time to start a new line on the throne. " Damaris strolled slowly around Robin and Prince John, making sure to stay out of Robins reach.

"With Richard at the crusades and you gone that leaves the way clear for me to step in!"

"So that’s what this is all about is it Damaris? That’s why the others have been avoiding me!" Damaris grinned at this, proud that his little plan worked.

"I can exact pressure on others the same as you your highness." He said with a bow. "A little push here, a little shove there and I was able to make most of the weaker lords follow behind me." Planting the sword he held it upright in the ground, his eyes opened up in mock surprise. "And imagine my joy in finding that I will also be able to finish Robin Hood in the same package."

Robin gave a side ways look to the Prince. Never taking his eyes off Damaris. "Who’s he talking about?" Robin asked the Prince, the former outlaw still did not remember his past life. Flames shot from Prince John’s eyes, the look was so intense that Damaris almost backed off. Almost!

"I’d really like to talk old times with you Robin Hood but I think it’s time we finished this. In case some of the Princes guards come back." Damaris slowly walked back to his men, his sword laying casually on his shoulder, as he reached the outskirts of the ring, he whirled around, pointing his sword forward as he yelled out. "NOW!"

At Damaris’ shout Robin immediately took the reins of Caesar and yelled out "To Battle!"

Robin knew exactly what this horse was capable of. When choosing the horse for Prince John, he had asked the stable master about it; he informed Robin that Caesar had special training as a battle horse.

Robin ordered the Prince to hold tightly onto the horse as it started rearing up, hitting any man that came close to the prince with his front hooves.

Brandishing his sword in one hand and his knife in the other, he tried his best to defend the Prince. At first the men were hesitant taking on Robin Hood. Using this to his advantage, Robin took them on one by one.

One man came up to him, holding his sword aloft, Robin ducked down, slashing his sword across his gut as his knife pierced the mans sword hand. The weapon he held fell from his grip, he landed hard on the ground, clutching the large wound that Robin had just inflicted on him. As one assassin fell another jumped over him. Yelling like a banshee, whirling a large mace over his head. Robin quickly fell to the ground, rolling towards the man as he was still up in the air. He lay on his back, pushing his sword up, grazing the attackers flaying legs; he let out a cry of pain as he fell back to the earth, dropping his mace. Robin quickly jumped up, kicking the man in the head, knocking him out. Whirling around, he ran towards the other waiting men, his dark eyes focusing on the task ahead of him, protecting the Prince. Some of Damaris’ hired men stood frozen, after seeing Robin quickly disable two men they were now hesitant in attacking him.

It seemed the tales they told of Robin Hoods fighting prowess were true. Unafraid Robin ran into the thick of things, intent on protecting the Prince of England. Deftly fending off thrusts and parries lunged at him, the hired assassins were desperately trying to end the life of the Sherwood outlaw. His long brown hair flew as he whirled around, jump kicking a sword out of one mans hand, keeping up the momentum of the spin, he used it to bring force to his blow as he backhanded another.

As Robin fought on he realized that he wouldn’t be able to defend himself against them all. Still not up to full strength after his prior injury, he was tiring fast, Robin knew that Damaris would soon notice this. And Robin was right, Damaris stayed at the outskirts of the battle that raged before him. Indeed he was waiting for a chance to get back at Robin for humiliating him yesterday. As one of his men had Robin’s full attention he snuck behind him to deliver a cowardly killing blow. As he pulled back his sword, an enraged battle horse suddenly hit him from behind. The blow kept him from dealing the deathblow, but he was able to catch Robin on his right forearm. Robin hissed at the pain as the sword cut into his right arm. Dropping his sword to the ground he backed off trying to catch his breath.

Still holding his knife before him, he backpedaled towards the Prince. Searching from side to side for a means of escape, suddenly he saw an opening, slapping the horse on the rump he yelled out to Prince John.

"Go your Highness! While you can!" Prince John Rode off, holding on for dear life, bouncing on the saddle as the horse quickly fled the scene, leaving Robin alone with the assassins.

Damaris rose up from where he fell, shaking his head to clear it. As he was able to see better he saw Prince John riding off. Throwing his hands up in the air he let out a cry of anger. All knew what this meant, when the Prince returned he would have everyone hunted down and killed. Fearing for their lives, one by one they ran off into the forest. Hoping to find a somewhere in England where Prince John would be unable to discover them. But Damaris knew that he would not have that luxury. The Prince would send a special guard to hunt him down and drag him back to the Prince, so he would instill his revenge upon him.

Enraged he turned to Robin, holding his sword tip out towards him he spat out. "If I am to die? Then I at least want to be known as the man who was able to kill the Great Robin Hood!"

Holding his sword before him, he then charged Robin. Robin dodged Damaris’ killing blow. Flipping his dagger to the blade side he whirled around, throwing it towards the enraged Lord. The knife embedded itself into his shoulder, he roared out in agony as the pain raced through his body. Whirling around he charged at Robin again, the blade still set in his shoulder. A large grin set on his face, Robin no longer had a weapon to defend himself, this should be an easy kill. As Damaris let out a cry of revenge whipping his sword back and forth, Robin turned and fled towards the forest.

Damaris laughed out of joy. "Run Robin Hood, prolong your stay on this earth for as long as you can, for I will be the instrument of your death!"

Robin ran towards a large oak, Damaris followed close to his heels, Robin could almost feel a breeze as Damaris whisked the weapon back and forth. Coming to the large ancient tree, Robin ran up its thick trunk, reaching a peak he backflipped behind the startled Damaris. The young outlaw totally surprised him with this move. As Robin landed behind Damaris, he clutched the dagger that was still embedded in the nobleman’s shoulder. Pulling it out Robin quickly shoved the dagger back into the center of his back to the hilt.

Damaris eyes flew wide open, letting out a small groaned as he fell to the ground. Robin stumbled back, trying to catch his breath, he searched around to see if any others had stayed with Damaris. He saw that not one was left to stand by him. Checking to see how deep the wound was on his arm he sat on the rock that Prince John was sitting on previously. Starring at the unnecessary bloodshed before him he sadly shook his head. "Such a waste!" he softly said. Minute’s later Prince John was riding back down the road with Barkley and his royal guard in tow.

He quickly jumped off his horse where Robin was waiting, winded from the excitement and the ride he asked Robin "Are you all right?"

Robin let out a tired sigh "Yes your highness. I’m fine. "

Prince John glanced at Damaris’ prone body, the dagger sticking out of his back. His anger boiled up from inside him. "Barkley" he shouted out. "I want these men disposed of. I want all the land to know that no one tries to defy Prince John." Smiling at Robin he patted him on the back as he said. "Not as long as I have Robin to defend me!"

All the way back to the castle Prince John was finding it hard to conceal his joy. Not only did he get a trophy stag that bettered anything that Richard killed. But Robin Hood defended his life with his own. He babbled incessantly with Robin all the way back, informing him of things he had planned for his future. As he talked on Prince John studied the handsome young outlaw that rode proudly by his side; it was then he began to realize that he liked being in the company of this young man. He was experiencing something that he had not in years, an anticipation of the next day!

It was near the end of the day when they entered the castle courtyard, the hooves of the horses clopped on the cobblestones, Robin jumped down from his steed, a groom taking the reins from him, bowing down to the dismounting Prince he began to excuse himself.

"If you don’t mind sire I think I’ll retire early. I’m a bit tired from our little excursion."

Prince John patted Robin on the back. "Nonsense my boy it’s all right! You go rest. I’ll send a nurse up later to tend to your wound."

Robin bowed again. "Then I bid you goodnight sire!"

"Yes goodnight Robin, sleep well!" Prince John waited until Robin was gone before he turned excitedly to Barkley. "It’s worked out better that I planed Barkley. As of now Robin Hood is dead! Robert of Locksley will defend the Prince of England with his very life." Prince John rubbed his hands together in glee. "God, life doesn’t get any better!"

Robin wearily entered his bedroom, throwing his weapons on his dresser; he pulled his tunic off. Pouring a pitcher of water in a bowl he began cleaning his wound that Damaris inflicted on him. A light tapping was heard at the door.

"Come in." Robin said as he continued to clean his wound. The door opened up to allow a nurse to enter the room. Noticing the hooded woman Robin surmised that the Prince must have sent her in to tend to his wound. Robin turned around patting his wound with a towel he said to the nurse.

"Its really not that bad. I won’t be needing you!"

The nurse came up to Robin and pulled her hood down. She looked up at Robin. As he gazed at her he felt she looked strangely familiar to him.

"Do I know you?" He asked the blue eyed woman.

"You’ve known me since we were children." Marion softly said.

Robin stared down at the beautiful womans face. She did look familiar to him. "Please, can you tell me what your name is?"

"Marion!" she whispered gently.

Robin repeated the name outloud. "Marion? I’ve heard that name before!" Marion looked earnestly at him. Suddenly it came to him. "Yes, one of the servants named Kemal, he asked if a Marion could help with the clean up."

He was proud of himself for finally being able to remember something. Marion just shook her head. "No! Kemal is not a servant, he’s your friend. So are Friar Tuck and Little John. Robin, doesn’t any of these names sound familiar to you?"

This woman looked so eager for him to remember who he was, not wanting to disappoint her he took her hand in his as he truthfully said. "I’m truly sorry, but they don’t"

Marion frowned at this. "Well maybe this will sound familiar to you. Do you remember when your father was killed because Prince John ordered it." Robins look went to disbelief "No, your wrong Prince John took me in after my father was killed. He thinks of me as a son!"

Marion took Robin by the shoulders shaking him hard. "Robin, Prince John has been deceiving you these past three days. You are Robert, the Earl of Locksley, you took the name of Robin Hood when your land and title was taken from you. You fled as a teenager into the forest. A wizard called Olwyn took you in. Don’t you remember any of this?"

Robin thought hard at this, he did want to remember. Olwyn? That did sound familiar. But he just refused to believe that Prince John would have done that to him.

Seeing his hesitation Marion continued. "Robin remember, you live in Sherwood Forest with a rebel band of outlaws, you are our leader. You fight Prince John because of the unjust way he treats the people of England. Your loyalty is with King Richard. Please Robin try to remember." Once again she looked in his face for some small sign in his expressive brown eyes, but saw not even a glimmer or recognition.

It was then a cold fear penetrated her heart. What if he would never remember he was Robin Hood? What if Prince John now had a hold on him so strong that she wouldn’t never be able to break it? Suddenly Marion did something she only did alone, or with Robin. She started crying.

Robin stared at this beautiful blue eyed woman crying before him. He hated to see her cry. Marion very rarely cried. Why the last time her saw her cry was..... Suddenly like a flood rushing in Robin knew who he was. It all came back to him, his father’s death, fighting Prince John and Marion always by his side through it all.

Gently touching her face he wiped a tear off of her cheek. He softly smiled at her as he gently whispered. "Amazons don’t cry."

Marion brought her sleeve up to wipe her face. "I never became a full Amazon you know" She sniffled "Besides, it just makes me so mad to know you don’t remember.... " she stopped herself in mid-sentence, what he said sinking in.

Looking up into his handsome face she found a familiar dimpled smile was there. "I missed that!" she said, and ran into Robin’s open arms. They held eachother in a tight embrace. Marion crying out joyfully "I thought I would never see that smile again! "

They broke their embrace as Robin knew the monumental task it must have taken her to sneak into his room. Gazing deeply into her eyes he asked her. "How did you get in here?"

Marion wiped a joyful tear from her face as she laughed out. "Believe me it wasn’t easy getting past Prince Johns guards. Why I had to......" Marion never got the chance to finish her explanation as Robin suddenly slapped his head with his hand as he exclaimed out loud "OH, MY GOD!"

At this the doors suddenly flew open and Robins ever-present guards ran into the room. Marion quickly pulled her hood up over her head to conceal herself.

"Is there anything wrong sire?" The two men asked in unison.

"Uh no!" Robin tried to hide his mistake.

"Then why did you yell out?" One of the guards asked.

"Well, I uh...." He looked at Marion and then at the wound.

"The nurse. Yes She uh hurt Me." he looked at Marion with a scolding face.

The other guard asked Robin. "Would you like us to beat her sire?" Marion brought her head up and gave Robin a warning glance. "As tempting as that sounds, I think I’ll administer my own beatings if you don’t’ mind." Whispering to them behind his hand.

"I guess I’m old fashioned." The guards started backing out. "Oh that’s all right sire. We understand. We’ll leave you alone."

"Thank you." Robin said as he waved them off.

"We’ll be here if you need any help!"

"Yes I’ll call you if I need anything!" Robin said as the two left the room, closing the door behind them.

Marion pulled her hood off hissing out. "Why did you scream like that?" Robin tried to explain to her what happened that day. "I just realized something Marion. I saved Prince Johns Life today!" with this said this time Marion yelled "YOU WHAT?!"

Once again the two guards came rushing in. Robin pulled Marions hood over her head and pushed her down on her knees. As the guards entered Robin said in a scolding voice, his finger wagging at her.

"And let that be a lesson to you!" quietly he said through clenched teeth. "Start crying!" Marion taking up on his cue started wailing.

"I’m sorry sire. I’ll never do it again." Hearing the nurses plea the guard gave Robin a knowing smile.

"I guess you changed your mind Sire. We’ll be leaving you alone for the rest of the night."

"I would appreciate it." Robin returned.

The guards glanced at the nurse. "Remember, if you need any help..." Robin finished "...You’re here for me. Yes, thank you, but I think I can handle her myself!"

Marion poked her hand through her cloak, pinching Robin’s leg. Stifling a grimace of pain he said "On second thought!"

"Yes!" The guards said in unison.

Marion looked up and gave Robin a look that would have melted lead. Robin said in a strained voice "Ah, No thanks, I’ll be alright. But I would appreciate it if you didn’t disturb me for the rest of the night, if you know what I mean!" Robin gave them a wink.

The two winked back. "Say no more. We’ll make sure you won’t be disturbed for the rest of the night." As they left the room Robin waved to them saying. "Thank you, Goodnight."

As the door closed once again Marion stood up and slapped Robin on the shoulder, angrily whispering "How could you save Prince Johns life?"

Robin rubbed his shoulder, looking hurt, he whispered back to her. "Well if you remember, I couldn’t remember back then!" His voice getting close to yelling.

Marion just let out an exasperated sigh. "Well let’s get out of here before Prince John decides to walk through that door."

Robin went to his bed and pulled his tunic back on. As he dressed he asked Marion. "Did you have a plan on how to get out of here?"

Marion walked out onto the balcony. "Of course we did!" She softly called back. She then pulled out a rope from under her voluminous cape.

"Plan ‘A’." She said wiggling the rope in the air. Robin walked towards the balcony." Plan ‘A’ huh. What was plan ‘B’?"

"Well" Marion said as she tied one end of the rope to the balcony and threw the other end over. "If you didn’t remember who you were. I was to hit you over the head and throw you off the balcony!" she motioned for him to climb down. Robin leaned over the balcony, he could just see Little John and Kemal waiting with horses. Realizing the height he would have fallen, one eyebrow lifted up as he muttered "I’m glad Plan ‘A’ worked!"

Marion scoffed out. "Hey you and me both. I didn’t relish the thought of dragging your body over that balcony!"

Robin motioned to her. "Ladies first!"

"Oh no!" Marion brought her hands out. "I’m not going to let you out of my sight again. Last time that happened you disappeared on me and ended up here!"

"Marion!" Robin said in a strained whisper. "I promise I won’t disappear on you. Now after you!" Marion just gave him a suspicious look as she started climbing over the railing of the balcony. Robin held the rope as she began to climb down. As she was half way down Robin suddenly realized that he had forgotten his bow. Andrew MacGregor gave it to him, he had to take it with. Releasing the rope. He softly hissed out. "I’ll be right back Marion!" Marion seeing that Robin had once again disappeared on her sighed out. "Not again!"

Robin quickly ran to the dresser where he kept the bow. Picking it up he threw it slightly in the air and caught it. "Can’t leave you here!" he said outloud. As he turned toward the balcony the door suddenly flew open and Prince John strode in. He was positively beaming!

"Robin!" He gushed out, his voice betraying his enthusiasm. "I have great news! One of the Barons is holding a foxhunt. We could go tomorrow. "

"Uh thats great your highness!" Robin replied. "Can’t wait! But if you don’t mind, I really am sleepy." To emphisize this Robin stifled a big yawn. Patting his open mouth several times. "If you don’t mind sire could we talk about it tomorrow?"

Prince John could see that Robin did look exhausted, as he began backing out of the room he heard a sound coming from the balcony someone was softly calling out "Robin! Where are you!"

Prince John went to the balcony and leaned over the railing. He saw Marion dangling half way down the balcony on a rope. Seeing the Prince Marion quickly climbed down the rest of the way standing by Little John’s side. Prince John turned and saw Robin suddenly looking very sheepish.

"It seems." Prince John said "That you have a caller." Robin said nothing. He waited for Prince John’s reaction. He slowly walked back into the room letting out a small sigh. "I guess you have your memory back then?" Robin nodded at this.

"And you remember?" Prince John asked.

"Everything!" Robin informed him.

The two grew very quite. Prince John had not reacted the way Robin thought he would. Remembering what was said in the day Robin gently said, "I would ask you why. But I think I know the answer to that."

Prince John also remembered what was said. "Ah yes. What I told you at the hunt." Turning to him he said, "I guess you now realize what I meant. About being a leader, having others depend upon you. Sometimes, it gets, lonely. " The last word he said very softly.

Robin nodded at this, Prince John again thought of the hunt

"Look Robin, you did save my life!"

Robin grimaced at this "Please don’t remind me!"

Prince John ignored the remark. "No Robin, you did save my life. Me the ruler of England, that in itself is worth something. Why I could give you a royal pardon, perhaps even give your title and land back!"

Prince John hesitated at what he was about to offer. But after what he now felt for this outlaw, he knew he wanted to say it. "Perhaps things could stay the way they are?" He offered.

Robin strongly shook his head. "And what would I do in your employ your highness? Become one of your tax collectors!"

"No, No my dear boy." Prince John assured him. "I have more than I need. You could perhaps......" He stopped himself when he saw the angry look that Robin was giving him.

"You will never change your ways Prince John. As long as you treat the people of England unfairly I will always be there to fight against you!"

Prince John let out a heavy sigh as he softly said, "Then I guess I have but one other thing to say to you!"

"What’s that?" Robin asked as he slowly made his way towards the balcony.

"GUARDS!!!!!" Prince John bellowed out.

The door to Robins room flew open and the two guards ran in just as Robin leaped over the balcony and quickly started climbing down the Rope. As Prince John leaned over the railing he heard Robins laughter echoing in the night "Thanks for the stay!" he faintly heard him call out.

He then saw Robin, with Marion, Little John, and Kemal ride off into the night. Going back into the room Prince John saw Barkley just rushing in.

"Your Highness I just heard that Robin got his memory back! Is this right?" "Yes Barkley. That man has once again humiliated me!" Turning to Barkley he pulled on his tunic hissing out. "I want his reward doubled do you hear!"

"Yes Sire, anything you say!" As Prince John released him, Barkley tried to straighten out his tunic. He saw Prince John looking longingly out the balcony, he twirled the small device that Robin had made for him in his hand.

Barkley quietly said, "I’m going to miss him."

Prince John whispered out. "Me too."

Quickly turning he started drifting out the door. Barkley said quietly to himself. "I was wrong, a man can change! But it wasn’t Robin who changed, It was you sire." Prince John called out for Barkley to follow him

"I still want to go on that fox hunt Barkley. Have Caesar ready for me in the morning! I need to kill something!" Turning to Barkley his lips parted to a cold smile "Better a fox then you eh Barkley!" He gave Barkley a sly wink.

As Prince John walked out he roared out. "I want things prepared for me in the morning! Or I’ll give you an early retirement!"

Barkley ran out mumbling "Or, maybe not!"

The End

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
 Chapter Four/ The conclusion
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