Tuck was worried. He woke up this morning only to find Marion gone. After questioning the lookouts he discovered she had left during the night. Where she had gone was not in question, what he was going to do about it was. His prayers for Robin and Little John’s safe return went unheeded. Now with Marion also gone it was up to him to take matters into his own hands. His mind made up he gathered the camp together to apprised them of recent events.
Perched on a chair he addressed the group. "Robin, Little John and Marion have all gone to Kilburn Mountain. Since they have not returned I can only surmise that they are in trouble." The crowd all started talking at once. Waving his hands he motioned for quiet. "I’m going after them and I need a volunteer, preferably anyone who knows anything about the caves inside the mountain."
"I know that mountain like the back of my hand." A voice shouted out. Peering into the mass Tuck saw Thad come forward.
"Are you sure?" Questioned Tuck.
Giving the friar a toothy smile he answered. "I sure do. My father had a farm not to far from there. My brothers and I practically lived in that mountain. I know every tunnel and cave in there."
Clapping his palms together Tuck looked heavenward and gave thanks. Transferring his gaze back to the other man he stepped off the chair. "Wonderful, we’ll start out right away. I don’t want to waste any more precious time."
With Thad in the lead the two made fast time, and before Tuck knew it they were at their destination. Sliding off his horse Thad leaned over to Tuck and pointed to a small slit in the rock wall. "That’s the back entrance." The friar nodded his head in understanding.
Both men stepped back into the shadows of the trees and secured their mounts. When that was done they cautiously made their trek to the narrow opening. Checking the immediate area to make sure the coast was clear the two men entered. It was pitch black and Tuck berated himself for not bringing torches. It became apparent the other man did not require the use of light to navigate the narrow tunnel. Going on instinct Thad made his was quickly through the labyrinth of tunnels, with Tuck hastening to keep up. They came up short when the tunnel abruptly came to an end.
"Great, now what?" Asked Tuck.
"You’ll see." Replied Thad, a smile in his tone.
Pushing hard on part of the wall, the friar was taken aback as it began to move. The grinding sound of stone against stone echoed in the passage. As the secret door opened a soft glow poured out. Slowly the two men peeked inside the small cave. Tuck gave out a small gasp as he spied the room’s occupants. There on the far wall were two men, both hung from iron chains.
At the sound of rubbing rock, Robin and Little John looked up in alarm. They noticed two men enter from behind the dislodged stone. As the men came closer the dim glow of the torches highlighted their features.
"Tuck!" Robin exclaimed in a weak voice.
John was ecstatic. "Are we ever glad to see you."
Rushing forward Tuck went to his friends. "Thank Thad, he’s the one who got me here."
For the first time Robin noticed the man standing behind the friar. "Thank you Thad, I owe you one."
Giving a sheepish smile the other man returned. "I’m glad I could help Robin."
"Well, were not out of this yet." Reminded Tuck. "We have to find something to break these restraints."
Robin sent him a confident grin. "Not a problem, my sword and dagger are in the corner. Use them to pick the locks on the shackles."
Quickly the other two men did his bidding. It took some doing but they managed to release the iron bands and free their friends. Robin and Little John collapsed to the floor. They had been given no water or food the whole time they were captured and felt weakened. Tuck took care of one of their needs, bringing out a small water bag. The two released prisoners each took a healthy swig feeling much improved afterwards.
Climbing to his feet Robin stretch his cramped muscles then sought out the other men. "Thad, I want you to lead John and Tuck to safety."
The largest of the outlaws frowned. "What about you?"
"I’m not leaving without Marion." Determination evident in his tone. When John started to protest he hurried on. "John I want you to go with the others. This is between Nevit and me." Tossing them a reassuring look he went for the doorway that led to the main chamber. Halting just shy of it he turned back. "Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. Marion and I will meet you outside." With that he disappeared through the opening.
The three remaining men observed him leave each lost in their own thoughts. Turning on their heels they filed out behind Thad who led them through the hidden passage.
On silent feet Robin steered himself along the cramped tunnel till he came to a camouflaged door. Leaning against the piece of rock he shove until it gave way. The doorway was well worn and only made a slight scraping sound as it slid open. Stationing himself just behind the granite door he surveyed the room. His intense gaze lit on every part of the room, stopping when they uncovered a woman lounging by the water pool. She hadn’t heard his entrance as she continued to view the water before her.
Careful not to disturb her solitude he silently crept along the rocky floor. When he stood just above her he reached out putting a hand on her shoulder.
Startled by his touch she sprang to her feet, rotating to face him her expression hostile. When she recognized him the anger drained from her face, replaced with a sultry gleam in her eyes. "It’s you." She said in a throaty whisper. Instantly she ran her fingers over his chest and lean into him.
Grabbing her roaming hands he held them in his tight grip. "Marion stop! We have to get you out of here."
Giving him a seductive smile she bent her head closer, he could feel her warm breath on his mouth. "I’m not going anywhere and neither are you. Let me taste your sweetness, then we will be as one." She covered his lips with her own and drank deeply from then. The kiss was electrifying and once again he started to feel himself be drawn into her.
While she monopolized his mouth her hand moved to his chin, spreading her fingers she prepared herself. She knew how good he would taste and a giddy anticipation engulfed her. Reluctantly she let go of his lips so she could concentrate on her mission. Closing her eyes she centered her attention deep inside him.
Wheeling from the kiss Robin tried to gather his scattered thoughts. He felt the same tingling sensation as before. He needed to fight this, to block out the pleasure and focus on breaking free. Finding the strength deep with in he grabbed hold of it using its power he managed to raise both his hands to her shoulders. With a forceful shove he pushed her away. Unprepared for his actions she fell backwards and landed hard on the ground.
Snarling she rose to her feet her face a mask of fury. Robin for his part was breathing heavily from his efforts. They both stared at each other until a sinister laugh averted their attention.
Looking over to the source of the laughter they saw Nevit. He had witness the exchange between the two and found it very entertaining. Striding over he placed himself next to Marion. Placing a possessive arm around her shoulders he addressed Robin. "I see she is going to require more practice. It’s bad form to let your victim slip away." Then giving the outlaw a unconcerned but quizzical look he said. "Speaking of slipping away-how did you manage to escape?"
"I’m full of surprises." Robin replied, arrogance threading his tone.
Nevit gave his shoulders a slight shrug. "It’s of little consequence, a matter that is easily rectified."
Raising a ringed finger he reached out toward Robin. Anticipating the action Robin twirled swiftly out of the way. Running to the large table, he seized one of the golden goblets from its resting-place. Holding it tightly in his grasp he waited.
A condescending smirk formed on Nevit’s face as he leisurely stalked his prey. "What do you think you can accomplish with such a weapon. Give over Robin, you are no match for my powers."
Robin eyed the dark figure, while he moved to stand behind the table. His gaze never leaving his foe’s, waiting for the right moment. He gripped the goblet tighter. His body so tense it caused the suede material of his green tunic to stretch taunt across his broad shoulders.
Nevit now stood on the opposite side of the table, a lethal glint in is black eyes. The first emotion Robin had ever seen in them. "Robin please. Let’s dispense with the theatrics. Put down the goblet and resign yourself to your fate."
Leaning across, Nevit placed his hands on the smooth surface of the table. This was the moment Robin had been waiting for. In a lightning move Robin lifted the goblet high and brought it crashing down. His aim on target, crushing the ring that adorned his nemesis’s right hand. A horrifying scream rent from the other man’s chest. Holding up his damaged hand, blood running down between broken fingers, but that was not the cause of his bloodcurdling cry.
Nevit stared horrified at what was left of the dome ring that was his very being. The glass was a mass of spider cracks and from these splinters a mist of various colors seeped out. Falling to his knees the dark eyed man cradled the injured hand, rocking back and forth as he did so.
The rainbow haze wafted around the room moving to where a stunned Marion stood. The mist encircled her in its colorful hues, dancing around her. Swaying on her feet Marion was powerless as the haze penetrated her body.
Robin viewed the scene before him with incredulous eyes. When he saw Marion wavier on her feet his body went into motion. Just as he reached her the mist that had enveloped her vanished. He caught her in his strong embrace the moment she sank to the floor. Holding her tenderly he stared at her pale face his dark brown eyes panic filled. "Marion? Marion can you hear me?"
Slowly her long lashes fluttered then gradually opened, her eyes frantically trying to focus. In a choked voice she asked. "Robin?"
He gave her a huge smile, causing the dimples in his cheeks to escape. "Yes it’s me. Are you all right?"
Sitting up in his arms she shook her head and looked around the cave. "I think so. What happened?"
Adjusting his position to make her more comfortable he answered. "Quite a bit. Don’t you remember?"
A loud wail stayed her answer. Looking to the source of the sound they observed Nevit. His handsome features distorted by pain, as his skin began to shrivel and wrinkle. The long dark hair rapidly turning white then disappearing all together. Quickly the bones in his body began deteriorating causing the body to cave in on itself. All that remained was a quivering mass- remnants of the sinister being.
While Robin and Marion continued to stare at the obscene sight there was a white flash and the remains disintegrated into nothing. Wide eyed at what they just witnessed the two sat in stunned silence. After a few moments passed Robin gathered his wits and spoke. "Well that’s not something you see everyday."
Marion, starting to feel her composure return tossed him a small smile. "You said it." Realizing she was curled up in his arms, she pulled away, attempting to distance herself from his disturbing embrace. A flow of conflicting emotions flooded her senses as she struggled to her feet.
Noting the swift change in her posture he let her go without comment. Dealing with his own embattled emotions he kept quiet as he also rose to a standing position. Facing each other their eyes locked, a silent agreement passed between them.
Marion was the first to break the contact, turning her gaze to the black ash spot on the rocky floor, she walked over. "It’s over right?"
Coming up behind her he answered in a quiet voice. "Yes, it’s over. You’re safe and he can never harm you again."
She gave her head a slight shake before saying more. "I remember coming to the cave but after that everything seems like a dream." Rotating around she looked up at him. "All I have are fleeting images." Her brows dipped as she tried to remember. "You were there and so was John." Her eyes took on a guarded look when she spoke again. "Why do I have this feeling that I made a total fool of myself?"
A roughish grin spread on Robin’s lips and his eyes danced in amusement. "Oh I wouldn’t say a fool. Actually you were quite.....friendly."
She could not distinguish the look in his brown eyes but she had a sinking feeling she did indeed make a complete and utter fool of herself.
Robin interrupted her thoughts. "Well, are you ready to go home?"
"Do you have to ask?"
"Good! John, Tuck and Thad are outside waiting. What do you say we join them?"
A relieved smile was her answer. Following him to the door she stopped, turning she gaze one last time at the darken mark on the floor. Briefly she closed her eyes glad this whole ordeal was over. No longer would the dark figure invade her dreams. There was only one man of her dreams and he was waiting for her in the tunnel. Smiling to her self she turned and exited the room.
Once the cavern was empty the torchlights began to flicker, the small waterfall stopped flowing. The contents of the room shimmered with a golden light, then vanished. One by one the torches vanquished, plummeting the empty cavern into darkness.