Robin awoke to the whisper of voices. One called out his name and he felt compelled to respond. But he could not seem to speak.Yet he must have spoken for a cold hand touched his face and a soft voice whispered, "Rest easy, pretty one."
Jackquel smiled as she watched Robin open his eyes. She knew that he would be awakening to strange sensations, to the hunger. It was her job to help him adjust to his...condition.
"What...?" Robin hissed, as he made to sit up. He found himself lifted by Jackquel's hands beneath his shoulders. "I feel....strange," Robin breathed. In that moment he remembered what had occurred. How he had slashed his wrists. Surely he could not have survived the blood loss. Locking eyes with Jackquel, Robin queried, "Am I dead?"
"No, not yet," she replied.
Robin caught his breath at her words and realized that the sound seemed loud in his ears. As was the beating of his heart. He could hear it clearly. And that was not all. He could feel the blood pumping through his veins, and smell it's heady sweetness. "I should be dead," he whispered as he stared down at his hands. They seemed to tingle with sensation, and when he brushed the satin that covered him, Robin gasped. It felt softer than velvet. All of his senses seemed magnified. Even his eyesight, for he could see the delicate veins beneath Jackquel's pale skin. His own skin was lighter than he was used to.
"What have you done to me?" Robin hissed. Jackquel smiled. "You're right, Robin," she said softly. "You should be dead, but Ahava would not let you go. She gave you the blood kiss and her blood is now mingled in your veins. The blood of an immortal."
"NO!" Robin shouted, flinging himself off the bed as if to escape the truth of her words. But they followed him even as he stopped himself. For he realized that he had glided across the room, his feet barely touching the floor. His speed was inhuman. "I'm one of....you?" Robin asked, hearing the quiver in his voice for he feared the truth. Yet needed to hear it.
"Not yet," Jackquel replied as she went to him. She took Robin's arms and turned them so that his wrists were bared to his gaze. "Look," she beseeched him. Robin swallowed hard, then glanced down. Across his wrists were faint, white, scars. Not the open gashes he would have expected.
"How long has it been?" he asked, finding the inner strength to ask the question with great calmness.
Jackquel released him, but let her fingers smooth a lock of sable hair from Robin's eyes. "Two nights," she replied, seeing his dark eyes register shock. And so she sought to explain. "You have the powers of an immortal, Robin. Our strength, yet not our soul."
"Meaning what?" he hissed, stepping back from Jackquel's touch. A part of Robin wanted to step out of his skin, yet another...morbid....part of him couldn't help but be fascinated by the changes in his body. He had always been healthy and strong, but now he could feel his strength, for his muscles seemed to flex with each breath he took. And each breath was a whisper from deep inside him.
"Come look," Jackquel beseeched him, crossing over to a looking glass in the corner of the chamber. She stood to the side of it, no sense in peering into it for she would not be able to see herself. She had no soul.
Robin obeyed her, because of his need to understand what was happening to him. He stood before the mirror then lifted his eyes. "No..." Robin hissed as he saw the redglow that shimmered back at him. His eyes burned with bloodlust.
Jackquel caught Robin's arm and held him when he would have turned away. "See your true self, Robin," she whispered in his ear.
"I'm not one of you," Robin replied, more to convince himself than Jackquel. His eyes burned as he glared at her. "You said it yourself. I'm not yet one of you."
"True enough," Jackquel allowed. She used her greater strength to pull Robin against her. "But once you have tasted the blood of a mortal, you will become the darkness, Robin. The prince of darkness."
He shook his head, denial shimmering in his eyes. "I will not kill to live!" Robin shouted. Digging in his heels, he yanked with all his might and was surprised when Jackquel went flying across the room. He watched her crash into a table and the wood splintered.
Jackquel grimaced as she rose to her feet, brushing splinters off her gown. "Well done, Robin," she praised him. "You're strength will grow as will your hunger. You cannot deny what you are."
"An abomination!" Robin snarled. He launched himself at Jackquel, his preternatural speed and strength kicking in, but she sidestepped him and Robin crashed into the wall. He felt winded, but recovered quickly. A sudden thought occurred to him. "Can I fly?" he queried.
"Like a bird," Jacquel replied, a smile curving her lips.
Robin smiled back, then sketched a courtly bow. "It's been..interesting, Mi Lady," he drawled. Then he launched himself at the window and took flight. Jackquel watched him go, gliding over to the window and seeing Robin's silhouette dark against the moonglow. Then he was gone.
"Well done, my sister," drawled a soft voice. "Thank you, my Queen," Jackquel acknowledged, as she turned to face Ahava. "Are you certain that Robin will return to Sherwood?"
Ahava nodded. "Very certain. And how fitting that he should drink of the blood of his mortal friends. Their lifeforce given in sacrifice so that Robin may rule the darkness...as my Prince...for all eternity." With those words came a ripple of laughter that echoed throughout the chamber, then drifted out into the night wind where it was carried away by the shadows of the night.
Robin glided through the air as if born to flight. He could not deny the exhilaration he felt with the wind on his face and tangling in his hair. But it was a thrill that quickly faded. He had but one focus. To return to Sherwood and his friends. They were his link to his mortal soul. Ignoring the hunger that burned deep inside him, Robin quickened his speed and raced the wind.
Marion felt a soft touch on her face and opened her eyes to find Robin leaning over her. Without thinking she cried out his name then wrapped her arms around his neck. "You've come back to us!" Marion whispered against his silky hair.
Robin held her tightly against him, feeling her softness, even as her heady scent filled his nostrils. But it wasn't the scent of her skin, it was Marion's blood that made him dizzy with desire. Just as the beating of her heart pounded loudly in his head, drowning out all sense of logic. Knowing what could easily happen, Robin suddenly pushed away from her and backpedalled across the hut. "I shouldn't have come!" He hissed, turning to leave.
"NO!" Marion shouted, jumping out of bed and running to Robin's side. "You can't go," she insisted, reaching for his hand pulling him back over to the bed. "Robin...we were so worried about you. Olwyn....he told us.."
"Olwyn?" Robin interjected, and closed his eyes. He knew that blood lust was glimmering in them like a flame and he didn't want to frighten Marion. "What did Olwyn tell you?" Robin prompted
Marion sighed. "That you were in a battle to save your soul. And he mentioned something about...vampires."
Robin grimaced. Without thinking he squeezed Marion's hand, then jumped when she cried out in pain. He had forgotten his immortal strength. "I'm sorry," Robin whispered, as he unclasped their fingers and moved away again.
"I'm all right," Marion reassured him, although she rubbed at her hand. "Robin...what's going on?"
"Get the others," he beseeched her. "There's something I have to tell you." With that, Robin strode out into the night.
Once Tuck and Little John were gathered, Robin set about explaining to his friends all that had occurred. He told them about Jackquel and Queen Ahava, and Ahava's plan for Robin to become her mate. He also showed them the scars on his wrists and how he would have bled to death, willingly, only Ahava and given him her blood. Then his escape.
"So...you're one of them, Robin?" Little John questioned, finding all of this difficult to comprehend. After all, his friend looked the same....more or less. A little pale, but then Robin had been through alot. Nearly dying, and all.
"I don't know what I am, Little John," Robin replied. He sighed as he stared off to the east. Soon it would be dawn and he was unsure as to what he should do.
Friar Tuck had been silent as Robin had spoken. Once they had returned to camp he had dug up some old writings on vampires that he had gotten from an Brother, now dead. They were vague, but did mention the *blood lust* and the ways a vampire could die. Such as by contact with sunlight. Since the sky was shading to gray, Tuck was watching Robin closely, but the young man did not seem concerned. At least, not by impending dawn. Also, the writings had mentioned what Robin had told them. That he would not cross over and become a vampire until his first kill, when he drank of mortal blood.
"I think that you need some rest, Robin," Tuck offered, rising from the table to go to his friend. He felt Robin flinch away from him, but did not retreat. "You know that we will help you."
Robin nodded, and forced a smile. "I know, Tuck," he said softly. And he was grateful. But that didn't ease his anxiety. Nor did it ease the hunger..the blood lust...that burned within him. "But I don't think I could sleep. My mind is too chaotic." Robin sighed then faced the others. "I don't know if I should stay here," he confessed. "I'm afraid that I might hurt one of you." And he wasn't talking about his immortal strength.
"You have to stay," Marion countered firmly. Her eyes were filled with love and compassion as she went to Robin and took his hands in hers. "We'll help you battle your demons, Robin," Marion insisted. The warning that Olwyn had given them, that Robin must fight this battle alone, had faded from her thoughts. He needed her, and the others, and they would do whatever it took to help him. It was as simple as that.
"Yes...stay, Robin," Little John echoed. He, too, rose to his feet and clapped Robin on the shoulder. "This is where you belong," he said, with a grin. "You'll be safe here with us watching over you."
Robin couldn't help but smile back at the giant. "Thank you, Little John," he replied, finding strength in his friend's simple faith. "I'll stay...for now," Robin allowed.
Marion was pleased. "You said that you could fly," she reminded him. "Will you show me?" Ever since she had met the dragon from the sky, Marion had wanted to touch the sky herself.
"All right," Robin conceeded. For Marion he would walk on water. He looked at the others. "But this little...trick...stays our secret. All right?" When they nodded, Robin wrapped his arm around Marion's waist, then took to the sky.
"ROBIN!" Marion shouted, as she felt her feet leave the ground. She tightened her arms around his neck, nearly choking him, but relaxed a bit when he laughed, and she realized that he would not let her fall. A smile curved her lips as she opened her eyes and gazed about her. Looking now, Marion realized that she could no longer distinguish Little John and Friar Tuck. They were so far up.
"It's....beautiful..." Marion gasped.
Robin was looking at her, not the sky, as he whispered, "Yes...it is." Then he laughed again and increased his speed till they were racing towards the moon. And as he flew he quoted their poem....
"....All other love is like the moon, which comes and goes like flowers on a plain. A bud that blooms and withers soon, a passing day that ends in rain. All other love I flee for this, to find myself within your heart. To you I promise my first kiss, and with it swear we'll never part..."
"Thank you, Robin," Marion whispered, her eyes shining brighter than the stars, which were fading in the approaching light of day. She looked upon his handsome face then closed her eyes and brushed a kiss to his cheek.
End of Chapter Three