Rushing over to the giant, Tuck questioned, "Where is Robin going?" "To see Olwyn," Little John replied. "Robin says he needs some answers."
"To what questions?" Tuck prompted.
Little John shrugged. "That...he didn't say." The giant clapped the Friar on the shoulder, nearly knocking him over. "Don't worry, Tuck. If anyone can help Robin, it's Olwyn. Right?"
Tuck nodded. "Right," he whispered, but he wondered if that were the truth.
Robin entered Olwyn's cave but discovered that the magician was not home. "OLWYN!" he shouted, his cry echoing in the chamber. "I NEED YOU!" When there was no response, Robin slammed his fist into a nearby wall, shattering the stone so that pieces of it crumbled to the floor. When the dust had settled, Robin stared at it his hand in stunned disbelief. His rage had been so swift, and deadly. Had he lashed out at one of his friends in such a manner, they would be dead now.
"No..." Robin hissed, falling to his knees, his face buried in his hand. But then he gathered his inner strength, letting controlled anger replace his despair. Rising again, Robin looked about the empty chamber.
"Why have you abandoned me, Olwyn?" he beseeched, bitterness and sorrow coloring his voice. "Now...when I need you most, you flee me." Hot tears filled Robin's eyes and he blinked them back. He knew that he was feeling sorry for himself, and hated his weakness. Olwyn must be thoroughly ashamed of him, and Robin couldn't blame him.
"....my spirit is with you always, Robin..." whispered a voice like thunder. "But how can I believe in you, if you will not believe in yourself..."
The words faded away, but echoed in Robin's heart. "Forgive me, Olwyn," he beseeched, as he headed out of the cave. "But I don't know what to believe in anymore." With that, Robin ran out into the forest, leaped onto his stallion's back, then raced off as if the demons of hell were chasing him. And he thought, perhaps, they were.
Marion searched for Robin and found him by the pond at the west end of the compound. Night had fallen, and Robin was sitting with his back propped against the tree. It looked as if he were staring at the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water, and Marion was reminded of their poem. It touched her deeply that Robin had memorized it. It was imprinted on her heart. "Mind if I join you?" she asked, moving to stand beside him. It was then that Marion
Realized Robin's eyes were closed.
"If you like.." he whispered, turning his head away. Robin would not push Marion away, yet a part of him wished she would leave him. Tonight the hunger burned in him like white-fire, and Robin feared that he would go mad.
"You all right, Robin?" Marion inquired, as she sat down beside him. Her knee brushing against his. When he moved his away, she felt hurt, but let it go. She knew that Robin was not himself.
He nodded, eyes still closed. "I'm fine," Robin hissed, but he could feel Marion's pain. Just as he could hear her heartbeat and smell the scent of her sweet, hot, blood.
Marion sighed, knowing that Robin was anything but all right. "I want to help you," she said, one hand reaching out to smooth a lock of dark hair from Robin's cheek. It felt like silk between her fingers. No man was more beautiful than Robin Hood, Marion thought, as she gazed upon him. The beauty of his heart and soul was reflected in face and form. She sometimes wondered if Robin realized that, but doubted it. There wasn't a shred of vanity in his bones.
"Marion.." Robin began, but then he shook his head. He didn't know what to say to her. Didn't know what to think. There was only hunger and pain. A throbbing passion and white-heat that raged deep in his soul. Robin was desperate for release, but did not know how to free himself. A voice in his head whispered...'give in to the hunger, Robin...'
"You'll get through this, Robin," Marion began. But then she became frustrated. "Look at me," she beseeched, one finger moving beneath his chin to turn his head.
Robin sighed. "You don't understand," he whispered. Marion blinked back tears. She had never heard such pain in Robin's voice. His torment was like wave that washed over her, leaving her breathless. She would not abandon him now. "Look at me," she repeated, firmly. Marion waited, then smiled as she saw Robin's eyelashes flutter. Then his eyes opened and she caught her breath, for the glowed red and the luminous heat seemed to burn her flesh. But then she found herself falling into the crimson depths.
"Marion..."Robin whispered. His lips parted to reveal glistening, white, fangs. Then he tangled his fingers in her hair, pulling her head back to reveal a smooth, milky, throat. Giving in to the voices, Robin bent his head and pressed his lips to the vein that throbbed in Marion's throat. He licked the soft skin, sighed with pleasure, then whispered, "My love..."
"Robin..." Marion said his name, soft as a whisper. There was no fear or pain coloring the dulcet tone, only trust and faith. She would deny him nothing.
"NO!" The cry was ripped from Robin's soul. He shoved Marion from him, uncaring that it was hard enough to knock her unconscious, and took to the sky. His first thought was to seek out Olwyn, but Robin sensed that his mentor would not be found. So he went to Tuck, for Robin remembered that the Friar had been studying the history of vampires. Tuck would be able to help him end his misery.
The Friar was asleep when Robin entered his hut but awoke when shaken. He blinked his eyes to focus them, then gasped when he saw the red-glow staring back at him. "Robin!" he hissed as he slid from the bed.
Robin turned away, then spoke. "Can I die?" he asked simply.
"What?" Tuck was certain he had heard wrong. He reached out to touch Robin's shoulder but his friend jerked away from him. "What are you saying?" Tuck beseeched. "I tried to kill Marion!" Robin snarled, whirling around and letting Tuck see the bloodlust burning in his eyes, as well as the sharpness of his fangs, revealled by his parted lips. "I can't fight the hunger, Tuck!" Robin hissed. "Kill me!"
The Friar shook his head, not wanting to believe..or accept...what he was hearing. "You would never hurt Marion," he countered firmly. "Robin..."
"ENOUGH!" Robin roared. He glided forward, took a handful of Tuck's nightshirt, then lifted the Friar off the ground. "Do you not understand what I am?" Robin whispered. "An abomination, my friend. Evil and darkness...in the flesh. My soul burns with the need to drink the life's blood of mortals. You're blood, Tuck," he drawled.
"I do not fear you, Robin," Tuck insisted, even though one hand fumbled for his cross. He clutched it in his fingers, then found himself back on his feet as Robin released him then backed away. It was then that Tuck remembered what he had read about Vampires. They feared crosses. A cross would burn their flesh. To test his theory, Tuck stepped over to Robin, holding out his crucifix. "Touch it," he beseeched.
Robin felt his heart pounding in his chest, heard it's roar in his ears. But he did as the Friar bid. He reached out and let his fingers curl around the cross. The moment he touched it, Robin felt a tingling in his blood then a rush of heat. But no pain. In fact, a moment later he felt a wave of calmness wash over him.
"Remarkable.." Tuck breathed, as he watched the red-glow fade from Robin's eyes. "It doesn't burn you."
"It feels....cool," Robin replied, his fingers now stroking the crucifix. "I don't understand," he confessed, his eyes lifting to lock on the Friar's face." Tuck shook his head. "I'm not sure that I do either. From what I've read, vampires are afraid of holy symbols. A cross will burn their flesh. But you seem...immune...to it, Robin. Perhaps because you are not truly one of them. Remember...you haven't yet killed."
Robin sighed, releasing the cross and turning away. "I almost did," he said softly, remembering the taste of Marion's skin, and the scent of her blood as it filled his nostrils. "It's only a matter of time, Tuck."
"I don't believe that," Tuck countered, anger coloring his tone. He had never known Robin to give up on himself so easily. "You're strong, Robin," he stated firmly.
"Not strong enough," Robin whispered, closing his eyes against the image of Marion in his arms. A heartbeat away from receiving his fatal kiss. "You don't understand, Tuck," Robin said, turning back to face his friend. "The hunger....it's like nothing I've ever felt. It's not just a part of my soul...it's a part of my flesh and blood. I won't be able to control it for much longer. You have to kill me."
Tuck shook his head. "No, Robin. I won't do that." He smiled as he reached out and tucked a lock of dark hair behind his friend's ear. "You're stronger than you know."
Robin resisted the urge to shake the Friar, knowing that he could hurt him should he do so. He tried to explain instead. "I will kill one of you, Tuck. That's not the issue here. The only question is when? How soon? You have to believe me. Please..."
"Then leave Sherwood," Tuck countered, seeing such pain in Robin's eyes that his heart twisted. He did believe and it filled him with great sorrow.
"That's not a solution!" Robin hissed. Anger flooded through him but he held it back. He had to keep control over himself. Locking eyes with Tuck, Robin laid out the facts. "If I leave....then what? I don't kill a friend. Instead I kill a stranger, or even a foe. Doesn't matter who, but in that moment I will become an abomination." Robin's eyes glimmered with unshed tears. "Is that what you wish for me, Tuck. To become evil? To feed on the flesh of the innocent people whom I once vowed to protect?"
The Friar blinked back his own tears as the truth of what Robin was saying to him sunk in. "I'm sorry.." he whispered.
Robin nodded. "I know. So am I. But now you understand, don't you?" he beseeched. "I have to die, now...before it's too late."
"I know a way.." Tuck allowed, finding it hard to believe that he was saying these words. But Robin was right. Better that he should die in the light, than to live in the dark.
"How?" Robin questioned, his eyes shining with hope.
Tuck went to a small trunk in the corner of the room. He pulled out the journal he had been reading and from between it's pages he pulled out a wooden stake. He held it up for Robin to see. "Brother Alvin wrote that a stake through the heart will kill a vampire."
Robin heaved a sigh of relief. "Do it, Tuck," he entreatied. "Do it now."
"Robin..." Tuck began to protest, but one look at his friend's face and he knew it was futile. He watched Robin step back so he was pressed up against the wall. Tuck understood what he had to do, so he moved forward. But he paused for a prayer. "Blessed Father, may you welcome this man into your holy embrace, for his presence on earth has blessed us all. Amen." That said, Tuck raised the stake and prepared to drive it into Robin's heart. Only, as he blinked back the tears that blurred his vision, a voice filled the air.
"Kill him and she dies," came the whisper.
Robin caught his breath. "Ahava!" he hissed. She appeared before him, Marion held firmly in her grasp. "I told you that I would not let you die, Robin," Ahava breathed. She smiled. "Now you must chose. Eternity with me...or death for Marion."
End of Chapter four