If the warriors were anywhere near Mellar’s castle, they would have heard loud, drunken laughter coming from the study. He and Ronna were drinking to the success of their plan. Robin would have found it humorous, a drunk wizard, however incredible it might have seemed. Bu Ronna and Mellar were enjoying themselves thoroughly (if one can enjoy talking funny and stumbling around).
Mellar, who found it hard to walk with the room spinning, sat at his work desk in the middle of the room holding a bottle of double ale for easy access. Ronna was lying on the floor in a small pool of ale, laughing hysterically.
"Opps," she squeaked when she realized she had spilled ale all over her. "I guess I must have missed!"
"I thay, Rrrrrrrrronna darling," Mellar boomed. You did bea-tee-fally today in da camp. I wish I cuda seen dat Robin’s face when Marin found you."
Ronna grabbed the side of the work desk and managed to pull herself up, ale dripping from her chin. "Hee hee hee. Marion, indeed. Mellllar, we gottem wite where we want ‘em."
"I wana per-pose a toast, my pet," Mellar said as he dumped more ale into his golden cup. "To us, kiddie. We’re a darn good team."
"You already done dat, per-post a toast, Mellar baby," Ronna said. "Like the one hundred time ya dunnit."
"Yea, bud we got sump’in to celebrate." Mellar smiled and stuck his loose tongue out. He offered more ale to Ronna, who stuck her cup out with a shaky hand. But as he went to pour, nothing came out. "Oh bfrrlff. We ain’ got no mor drinken."
"No matta’," Ronna mumbled. She pushed the empty ale bottle aside and went to grab Mellar’s full cup, but he shoved her back in defense. Then he jumped up out of his seat and began running around the room, covering his glass of ale to protect it. "Ain’ no way yer getting’ mah last stuff."
"Use right grammar, Mellar," Ronna said as she picked herself up and attempted to chase after the wizard. Her weak muscles failed and she fell back on the floor in a drunken stupor. Mellar stopped running and began laughing hysterically.
"C’mon, lady, les git serious here." Mellar fell to his knees and tried to drag Ronna across the floor to him, but he grabbed at nothing but air 3 times before he realized that it wasn’t working. "Git over here," he demanded, frustrated.
Ronna crawled slowly over to the old wizard and got in his face. Mellar looked up as her lips grazed his right eye. "What is it?" she yelled, her hot breath clouding his face.
"Siddown, girl," Mellar said. He placed his hands on Ronna’s shoulders and pushed her to the floor before continuing. "You sure you sawd Robin and his cronies follow you here, girl?"
"Yea, I’d sure did," Ronna said.
"So dat means our plan ees gonna go as planned. Robin is sure to bring his groupies here and when he does, we strike."
"We sure do, genius one," Ronna said. She held out her hand to hi-5 Mellar, but when he raised his hand in turn, he missed by a mile. Then he fell backwards and began to snore. "Gunna sleep off dat luquor?"
Ronna got to her feet and trudged towards the study door. "I gotta find some o’ dat stuff," she murmured. She let out a huge belch, then pushed her way through the door.
* * *
At sunrise, Marion rolled over in bed and pulled the covers up over her head. "Not now," she whined. "Let me sleep. I don’t want to get up at all today."
After finding Robin in the arm s of another...well, woman the day before, Marion (in a sense) locked herself in her tent and refused to talk to anyone. She even skipped dinner. Robin tried in vain for the rest of the night to get her to open up, but he finally gave up when it grew cold, and went to his own hut. It broke Marion’s heart to feel like she had to ignore him. But what choice did she have? During the past 48 hours, her world had been turned upside down. With Robin’s dream, the danger, his abusive attitude...and now this!
Marion tossed and turned in bed but couldn’t get back to sleep. When she heard the caw of the roosters, she knew she couldn’t get anymore than just a few extra minutes of sleep. Soon, the campers would be up and about and the warriors would probably be coming around to offer her breakfast. When Marion thought of food, she suddenly realized that her stomach was growling severely from no dinner the night before. Like a hungry monster, she grunted and rolled from her bed.
Then she shed her bedclothes, splashed some cool water on her face, and dressed slowly. She dreaded having to leave her tent and face the day. Never in all her years had she ever been so depressed and discouraged.
Still, she pressed on. When the mouth-watering scene of fresh eggs wafted into her tent, Marion squared her shoulders and headed out into camp.
She didn’t hurry to the breakfast table. Marion kept her head low and ignored anyone’s attempt to talk to her. When she reached the table, she grabbed a small wooden bowl that sat unused and filled it up with fresh eggs, wheat biscuits, and lucious senberries. After popping a berry in her mouth, Marion turned to go back to her tent. But instead she ran right smack into Robin.
"Marion, I am so happy to see you up and about. I am very sorry about what happened yesterday. Can we talk?" Robin pleaded. "Please? I mean…"
"Save it," Marion snapped. She placed a hand on Robin’s chest and pushed him aside as she walked away from him.
"But Marion," Robin said as he ran to catch up with her, "You don’t understand. I thought it was you! Look I know that I’ve been the jerk of the world the past few days. I have no idea why but I think I soon will. Please, Marion, give me another chance. I cannot stand you being mad at me."
When the couple reached the tent, Marion turned to look Robin Square in the eye. "I wish I could just let it go. But not now. Maybe some day you’ll understand."
With that, Marion strode into her tent and closed the entrance.
"Damn," Robin muttered. He grasped the fabric of Marion’s tent with such force that his knuckles turned white. "Gods, why can’t I just tell her the simple fact that I love her?"
Robin wanted to beat himself up. How could he have been so blind? The one girl he loved most was gone. The danger of what Olwyn told him still lingered in his mind, but it was the least important of his worries. Oh, well. What did it matter? With Marion gone what reason did he have to fight, or to even live for anymore? Robin backed away from the tent and turned to leave. He wished to the Gods that Marion would come out and tell him everything was going to be all right. For once in his life, the bravery didn’t do a damn thing. But this wasn’t so. Marion remained sulky in her quarters. So Robin left, realizing he was fighting a losing battle.
As he left, Marion peeked out of her tent at him. As it turned out, she had heard every word he said, and although she had always known in her heart that he loved her, she never allowed it to cross her mind when it wasn’t appropriate. The secret love they shared was only a suspicion by the others that survived in secret. Now, after hearing what Robin said, tear blurred Marion’s eyes. She wanted to run after him. But she couldn’t find it in her heart to do it. Instead, she crossed her quarters to her bed and sank down, ignoring her half-eaten breakfast. She sobbed herself back to sleep.
Whipping out an aged map, Little John unfolded it and shoved it in Robin’s face.
"I marked where I found the castle, Robin, just as you said. Now we can track this Marion look alike down!"
As always, Little John loved the prospect of a good fight. After the events of the day before, Robin instructed him to follow the Marion look-alike to find her hide out. She made it easy for him. The ride was far, however, and Little John didn’t return to the camp until the next morning. When he did, he immediately gathered the warriors together (except Marion, who still refused to budge from her quarters) and revealed the location. Friar Tuck was suspicious that the Marion lookalike had something to do with the evil that Olwyn had spoken of. When Little John suggested that the group check out the dark castle, Robin agreed though not enthusiastically.
"But Robin," Little John said, "I thought you wanted to nip this thing in the bud."
"I do, I do," he explained. "Excuse my mood, but Marion still won’t talk to me. I just find it hard to want to fight when everything is going so terribly wrong."
"Well, no offense Robin, but this isn’t the time to worry about girl problems," said Friar Tuck.
"None taken," Robin said, lying through his teeth. He gave in "Alright then, we’ll go to the dark castle. I have a hunch that the pink sky in my dream indicates that we should go at sunset. Well, Olwyn told me as much. So we should go at sunset."
The group agreed. Little John offered to try to talk to Marion, but Robin refused. "We should probably go alone," he said. But Little John wasn’t letting things go. The group wasn’t the group without Marion. So when Robin wasn’t looking, he snuck off to Marion’s quarters.
At first, Marion was reluctant to let him in. But after much trial, she relented and decided to talk. Little John found her, eyes puffy from crying, trying to write something down in her journal. When he approached her, she slammed her journal shut rather quickly like she had something to hide.
After a long heart to heart, Marion agreed to go on the mission that night. But just as Little John was about to leave her quarters, Marion called him back with shocking news.
"Little John, I am telling you this is confidence. It must never get back to Robin. I trust that you will keep a promise not to tell Robin or anyone else."
Little John crossed his heart and leaned close to Marion as she continued. "I have decided to leave the camp, and the group. After the mission tonight I am going to pack my few things and leave under cover of darkness. Robin will never know that I am gone until after it is too late."
"Marion, you can’t be serious. We’re not a group without you!" Little John gestured around her tent. "I understand how bad things are right now, but look at this place. We need you here! Robin needs you here. Besides, where would you go?"
"Home, I supposed," Marion said as she shrugged. A tiny smile tugged at the corner of her lips. "Giving up the warrior life wouldn’t be so bad. I can go back home and get involved again with that arranged marriage I gave up. Who knows, it might turn out to be alright."
Little John raised his hand to feel Marion’s forehead. "Well, you’re not feverish. That’s why I cannot figure out why you would do this. You know you’re needed here. You’re family to us." Marion’s face fell, and Little John knew he was whipped. "But if that’s what you want, then let me say this: Good luck. Remember that we’ll miss you. You’ll always be welcome to come back. I won’t argue though, as you are a woman with a heart and an attitude. When you want something, you go for it. Plus, I don’t want to get beat up for trying to change your mind although I wish you would. But I understand, I guess."
For the first time, Marion mustered a weak smile. It was all for the best.
End of Chapter Four