Robin drove his horse at a frantic pace, wanting to get back to camp as soon as possible. He wanted to check on Marion then get prepared for his trip to Kilburn Mountain. Reaching camp in record time he jumped off his mount, asking Thad to take care of the horse. Scanning the encampment he spotted Marion sitting next to John. He strode quickly over to them. At the sound of his approach the two looked up. Robin was taken aback by the look in both their eyes.
Apprehension laced his tone as he asked. "What happened?"
Marion sent John a quick glance, he in returned gave a slight shrug. Looking back at Robin she said. "He was here."
"The man from your dreams?"
"Yes. The only problem is, I seem to be the only one who can see him." She gave him a disheartened smile.
Robin’s brows furrowed in bewilderment. "What do you mean only you can see him?" Then moving his gaze to Little John. "You didn’t see anything?"
Shrugging his shoulders and lifting both palms skyward the big man replied. "Nope, nothing. I was standing right next to her and she started walking toward the woods. She was in some type of trance. When I stopped her she snapped out of it and asked if I could see him." Giving Marion an apologetic look he hurried on. "There was nothing there. Just the forest."
Marion bent over and placed her face in her hands. "What is happening? I feel like I’m loosing my mind."
Crouching down in front of her Robin laid a warm hand on her back. "No you’re not. I talked to Olwyn."
At his words she sat up. Her eyes swimming in unshed tears. "What did he tell you?" Her tone filled with hope.
He hated to disappoint her but knew she needed to be told the truth. So he relayed his conversation with Olwyn to them both. He finished by saying. "I want to check out this mountain. Maybe we can figure out a way to stop this mad man."
Marion was shaking her head vigorously. "No, I don’t think this is a good idea. It’s too dangerous."
"I can’t think of another option at the moment, can you?" When neither answered he went on. "I’ll go and see if he can be reasoned with, if not, then there are always other ways."
Taking a deep breath Marion said. "I’m going with you then."
Getting to his feet Robin gave his head a negative shake. "Oh no you’re not. I might as well deliver you with a red ribbon tied around your neck. You’re exactly what he wants."
She knew he was right but hated to admit it. She stood up after him and peered into his warm gaze. "Please be careful." She beseeched.
He gave her a confident smile. "I always am." Turning to Little John he said. "I could use your help my friend."
Rising up to his impressive height the big man smiled. "Of course. You didn’t think I’d let you go all by yourself did you?"
"Let’s get going then." With a relieved smile Robin and switched his gaze back to Marion. "Stay here in camp. I don’t want you leaving for any reason. I’ll have Tuck stay with."
She gave her head a nod and walked with the two men to where the horses were tethered. On the way they came upon Tuck and Robin filled him in on everything along with strict instructions not to let Marion out of his sight.
With a solemn expression, Tuck assured the outlaw leader he would keep a close eye on Marion while Robin was gone. Feeling confident that Marion would be well taken care of John and he mounted their horses. Wheeling the beast around, Robin gave Marion one last parting look. Pressing their knees into the flanks of the animals the duo rode out of camp at a fast pace.
Marion and Tuck watched until the two were out of sight. The latter placing a comforting arm around the young lady next to him. "They’ll be fine." Stated Tuck, hoping she would not detect the uncertainty he was feeling inside.
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It was a brief jaunt for the two outlaws to reach their destination. Pulling their mounts to a halt, Robin and John looked up at Kilburn Mountain as it loomed a short distance away. "There it is." Robin said.
"Yeah, there it is." Little John answered back nervously.
Urging their horses in a slow trot they reached the entrance on the north end of the large mountain. Dismounting they tied their steeds to nearby trees and cautiously started for the dark opening in the side of granite.
It was pitch black inside, using their hands as eyes they felt along the damp walls of the tunnel. Soon the darkness began to lighten as they came across torches which lined the rock walls. The narrow tunnel suddenly opened into a large room that was well lit. Robin peered into the room surveying the layout, looking for its occupant. Spying no one, the two friends stepped into the cavern.
John bent down to whisper in Robin’s ear. "Nice place he has."
Keeping his eyes pealed for the room’s tenant Robin replied back. "Keep sharp, I’ve got a bad feeling about this."
The larger man nodded his head and remained quiet. They both continued to scrutinize every nook and cranny of the place, hoping to discover something.......anything that would help them in their endeavor.
Water slowly trickling down into a small pool was the only sound in the cavern. Robin went over to the tiny pond and gazed into it. The water was so clear he could see down to the rocky bottom. Leaving the pool he strode over to where Little John was examining a gold goblet.
When John notice Robin, he lifted the cup to him. "Look at this Robin. We could feed a lot of people with this."
Shaking his head the other man responded. "Not this time John, we’re not here for that."
"And just what are you here for?" Question a deep voice from behind them.
Rotating around swiftly, the two outlaws spotted a tall darkly dressed man standing by the large chair in the middle of the room. Neither of them hearing his entrance. He was wearing a satisfied smirk on his handsome features as he observed the other men.
Adopting a nonchalant attitude Robin slowly strolled closer to the man. Crossing both arms across his chest he regarded the individual. Dispensing with the niceties he raised his bearded chin and demanded. "Are you the one responsible for annoying Marion?"
The other man’s smile grew. "Annoying her? I think not." He slowly lowered himself into the chair. "But before we get into that I think it only proper that introductions are made. I am Nevit." Giving his head a slight bow in greeting. "And you are?"
"Robin Hood." Robin responded, his eyes never leaving the man before him, as he motioned to his companion. "This is John Little."
Nevit stretched his long legs out in front of him crossing his ankles as he studied the outlaws. "Robin Hood is it. I’m very vexed with you." When Robin lifted a brow in question he went on. "You are standing between me and something I desperately desire."
Robin’s eyes took on a hard glint as he glared at the seated man. "If that something is Marion, you will have to go through me first."
Steepling his fingers in front of his face, Nevit gave out a small sigh. "I see you are going to make this difficult. I assure you, there is no way you can win." Taking his hand from his face he placed them on the side of the chair. "Marion will be mine and you and your friend will be dead."
"I take it there is no talking you out of this then."
"None what so ever. I’ve waited a long time for someone of Marion’s.......let us say fiery nature." Leaning forward in his chair Nevit’s eyes bored into Robin’s. "I’ll be feeding off of her for a long time."
At this Robin’s anger rose to new heights but he had to keep in under control if he was going to help Marion. Acting irrational at this juncture would solve nothing.
John on the other hand was not rational. His face was a mask of fury at what he heard. Hefting up his staff he made a move toward the dark figure. Only Robin’s staying hand held John in check.
Smiling at John’s reaction Nevit’s tone became silky. "Too bad you’re not a female my large friend. You would be a fine dish."
Those words enraged John further and it was all Robin could do to keep the blonde giant restrained. "No John, not here, not now."
Looking into his friend’s steady gaze John tried to let some of the anger drain from his body. Robin was right. They had to keep it together if they were to succeed.
Robin swung his gaze from John to Nevit and in a steely voice warned. "Leave Marion alone, or you’ll have more than you bargained for." Turning he grabbed Little John and stalked toward the tunnel opening.
"What? Leaving so soon." Cooed Nevit. He was now standing near the small water pool. "Just when we were getting to know one another better. I really must insist that you stay." When the two outlaws turned they saw Nevit wave his hand over the water. Four watery images began to emerge from the pond. The images transformed from liquid matter into a solid form resembling human men. They were dressed in the same dark clothing as their creator. Stepping out of the water the forms advanced.
Robin and John’s eyes went wide as the men headed right for them. Swiftly they rushed to the tunnel only to find the way blocked by a wall of rock. Turning back they saw the watermen advancing closer. Snatching his sword Robin releasing it from its leather sheath. The blade, slipping smoothing from it’s resting-place. Gripping the handle in both hands, body tense, Robin readied himself.
Holding his quarterstaff in front of his chest John also took on a defensive stance. His jaw locked, legs spread wide, eyes narrowed.
Two of Nevit’s creatures rushed at Robin. Twirling around the outlaw managed to avoid contact. His attackers carried no weapons, instead they seemed intent on charging their victim. As one came at Robin again, Robin sliced at him. The blade went through the man as if he were butter. Confused Robin thrust his sword into his assailants mid section. Again the blade went through without resistance. When Robin pulled out the weapon he hear a sloshing sound. Water poured from the wound his sword had inflicted. The man looked at the gushing hole and with a hand pressed against it. As he moved his hand away the flowing water had stopped. Astonishment clearly marked Robin’s face. His attackers were made of water. His weapon would be of little use, he had to think of something else and quick.
At the other end of the room, Little John was having much the same problem. Swinging the staff he attempted to clip the two men at the ankles, but instead the wooden stick passed right through them. Frustrated he took one end and jabbed the men in the stomach only to have the staff go out the other end. Pulling the weapon out he witness the same thing as Robin had. Liquid rushed from their bodies. Just as had Robin’s assailants had done, they simply covered the wounds until the hole was gone.
Moving so they stood back to back, Robin and Little John attempted to hold off the watermen. "How are we suppose to stop them!" Exclaimed John.
Maintaining his vigil on their assailants, his mind racing, Robin was at a loss on what to do. "I’m not sure. Our weapon have no effect on them."
The two outlaws were now surrounded and the four liquid men began to draw in closer and closer. Robin and John lashed out with their weapons as their opponents attacked. Robin felt a large hand on his face. Water began to fill his nostrils and mouth. He began gagging as he felt the water seep into his lungs. His vision began to get blurry. The room started to darken as the first stages of unconsciousness took over. Finally everything went black and he folded to the hard floor of the cavern.
Robin and John both lay on the cold stone ground unmoving. Nevit stood over them and sneer upon his lips. "You think to stop me. What poor pathetic fools you are." Snapping his fingers he motioned to his men. "Take them to the back chamber and chain them up." As the two men were dragged off, a satisfied look lit Nevit’s features. Going over to the water pool he waved his ringed finger. Marion’s image instantly appeared. Looking down at it he smiled. "You will come to me now, for I hold something you treasure." Laughing he walked over to a rock that protruded from the side of the room. Moving it aside it revealed another room which he entered. All he had to do now was wait.
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Back at camp Marion’s anxiety was growing. Glancing up at the sky she noticed the sun would be setting soon. Robin and John had been gone most of the day and now with night soon upon them her uneasiness knew no bounds. Her troubling thoughts brought her to her feet and she started pacing.
Tuck had been quietly watching her agitated state. When she looked like she might explode he spoke. "Marion, relax."
She threw him a scowl and placed her hands on her hips. "How can I relax? They went there because of me. They should have been back by now." Turning her eyes to the camp entrance she gave her head a small shake. "Something’s wrong. I can feel it."
Coming up to stand next to her Tuck put a supportive hand on her arm. He didn’t want to alarm her but he was worried too. Kilburn Mountain was not that far away. Robin and Little John should have returned by now. Forcing a calm face he tried to ally Marion’s fears. "I’m sure they’re fine. A dozen things could have happen to delay them." Her expression told him she was unconvinced. "Listen, if they aren’t back by morning, we’ll go look for them."
"Maybe we should go looking now." Hope clear in her tone.
He gave her a compassionate smile. "No we can’t. It’s going to be dark soon. We could pass them and never know it in the dark. First thing in the morning we’ll head out."
Letting her shoulders droop in resignation she nodded her head. "All right, first thing in the morning."
Nighttime fell upon the tiny encampment. It was a quiet scene as the band of outlaws had retired for the night. Marion sat on her bed too worried to sleep, her body taunt with tension. She picked vigorously at the straw of her pallet, her nerves stretched to their limits. This is going to be a long night, she thought to herself. Rubbing her tired eyes she felt a presence. It was the feeling she always got when her dream man appeared. Cautiously taking her fingertips from her eyes she looked up.
There he was standing just inside her door. Staring at him she waited for him to speak. She didn’t have to wait long. Giving a piercing stare he said. "It’s time Marion." Slowly she shook her head. Stepping closer he spoke again. "If you ever want to see Robin Hood again, you will come to me."
At the sound of Robin’s name she responded in a frantic voice. "What have you done to him?"
A knowing smile formed on his mouth. "Nothing yet. But if you do not come to me this night......." Letting the words fall off, leaving her to draw her own conclusions.
Taking in a deep breath trying to still her racing heart she stood up. "All right, I’ll come."
His smile grew. "I thought you might. Now close your eyes." When she gave him a questioning look he told her. "Close your eyes so I may show you the way to my home." Reluctantly she did as he requested.
As he passed his hand over her eyes, images were stamped into her memory. When she opened her eyes once again he had vanished, but she knew precisely where to find him. Creeping silently out of her hut she went to the horses. Gathering the reigns of her brown mare she led the beast quietly out past the main guard. When he went to question her she cut him off with a look. Once outside the secret entrance she vaulted onto her saddle and was off.
End of Chapter Three