THE UNICORN...
by Shelly Quinn
I prethee thee to inform The author!
Chapter Two

Olwyn watched Robin in his crystal. He knew that the young man would face an evil unlike any he had ever known. But Robin's heart and soul were pure and he had the power to defeat Gal. But first things first. Robin had to find his way to the Unicorn. And that was a test within itself.

Robin had no idea where to find the unicorn, but some instinct deep inside him, like a tiny voice in his head, seemed to whisper that the eye of the storm would lead him there. So he headed southeast, but the way was difficult. Robin passed by villages and towns filled with chaos. People everywhere were ready to hurt each other, and for no good reason. Not to defend themselves or to protect what was theirs, but simply to inflict pain and suffering.

Stopping in at a village market for supplies, Robin found himself facing a family argument. The husband was furious with his wife, but she was equally angry. They shouted at each other and began throwing things as each other. And through it all could be heard the cries of a small child. A little girl. Their daughter. Robin ran forward and scooped the child up into his arms. He soothed her with soft words, then moved to confront her parents. "Enough!" Robin shouted, to get their attention.

The couple stopped fighting and whirled to face the man who held their daughter. The man stepped forward. "Who are you?" he challenged.

"Robin Hood," Robin replied.

"What do you want?" asked the woman.

Robin smiled at her. "I want peace," he said softly. "Why are you fighting?" he queried.

The man shrugged. "What business is it of yours?" he hissed.

"Look at the tears on your daughter's face," Robin whispered as he raised her in his arms to face her parents. "You put them there. She weeps for your anger and your anger is her pain."

"Lily.." sobbed the woman, reaching out to take her child from Robin. "I'm sorry," she whispered, against her daughter's golden hair.

The man dropped his head in shame, then he moved to Robin. "Thank you," he said, holding out his hand. "I don't know what came over us."

Robin shook the man's hand, then patted his shoulder. "Evil is upon us all," Robin replied. "But look into the eyes of your children and the light will fill your hearts." As Robin spoke he hoped that his words were true. Moving over to the woman, Robin smiled at her, then he bent his head to press a kiss to the little girl's forehead. As he did so, Robin saw an image flash in his head. The unicorn. Smiling, Robin drew back and whispered, "Goodbye, Lily."

"Bye..." the little girl lisped, waving her hand at Robin.

"Take care," Robin said as he moved to his horse and mounted.

"The children still believe," he whispered to himself, as he cantered off down the road. Still heading for the eye of the storm.

 

Back in Sherwood, Tuck, Marion and Little John were still arguing. But suddenly Little John fell silent and gazed about him. "Where's Robin?" he asked the others.

Marion frowned as she turned in a circle. Then she remembered. "He said he was gonna stop Gal."

"He can't do that by himself!" Tuck protested.

"Well...you can't blame him for going off on his own," Little John countered. "After all, we didn't believe his story. About the unicorn and all."

Marion sighed. "Little John has a point," she conceded to Tuck. She realized that she was still feeling angry, and a part of her wanted to lash out at the two men, but another part of Marion realized that she wasn't being rational. So some of what Robin had said must be true. "We have to go after him!" Marion declared.

Tuck nodded. But when the others started to move off, he stopped them. "Let's promise each other to stay united in our quest. That when the darkness washes over us, we'll remember that there is a light, and the light is Robin."

"Amen, Friar," Little John replied. He realized that for the moment he and his friends were lucid, but that the evil that had been driving them could return at any time.

"Let's go," Marion interjected quietly. She was in agreement with Tuck, but her only focus was Robin. When he had needed her most, she had failed him. But now she would do all in her power to find him, and stand by his side. If only it wasn't too late. Not waiting for the others, Marion ran off towards the stables.

 

Robin's path led him through the forests surrounding the far side of Prince John's castle. And, much to his surprise, he discovered Prince John out and about with Barkley and two guards. Why they were out was unclear, but it was obvious that they were in trouble, for six men had surrounded the Prince and had swords held to his and Barkley's throats. The guards were dead. Robin was tempted to pass them by, for Prince John deserved being on the receiving end of a sword. But Robin knew he couldn't let the Prince die, not so unjustly. Heaving a sigh, he slid from his horse then grabbed his bow and arrows. He slung them over his back, then climbed the nearest tree, silently as a shadow. From his hiding place, Robin fired off three arrows, striking three raiders in the leg and downing them. With the odds more in his favor, Robin leaped down from the tree to face the leader and the two men still standing.

Prince John was stunned to see Robin, but relieved. "Save me!" he beseeched the outlaw of Sherwood.

"Maybe," Robin allowed, a smirk curving his lips. He leaned on his bow and looked at the leader. "So...what is your intention towards Prince John?" Robin queried, a twinkle in his eyes.

"He'll give us all his gold and then I'll rip his heart out," the leader snarled. And as he spoke he pressed the edge of his sword blade against Prince John's throat. The Prince whimpered.

Robin sighed. "Somehow that doesn't sound fair. Tell you what. Prince John will give ME all his gold, and I'll let YOU live. Deal?"

The leader threw back his head and laughed. "Right!" he drawled. "And who do ya think ye be? Robin Hood? Run off laddie, before I chop yer pretty head off!"

"I think you need an attitude adjustment," Robin replied, heaving another sigh. "And..for the record..I AM Robin Hood." That said, Robin used his bow to smash into the face of the raider closest to him. The man howled and grabbed his broken nose. A moment later he crumpled when Robin kicked him in the head.

The raider guarding Barkley left him to face Robin. His sword swished the air, then he attacked.

Robin tossed aside his bow and drew his own sword, parrying a blow that would have beheaded him. He struck back and they clashed blades, before Robin did a spin then slashed the guard across his belly. The man fell before him, dead. Robin then turned to face the raider who was holding Prince John.

"I'll kill him, I swear," the man snarled, his blade tight against Prince John's throat.

"Go ahead," Robin drawled, as he leaned on his own sword. "England will be a better place. In fact, maybe I'll step forward and proclaim my Royal blood. With Prince John dead, and no sons to succeed him, King Richard would surely name me successor to the throne." A huge smile accompanied Robin's words.

Prince John was outraged. Enough so that he forgot to be terrified. "Why you...you..." he spluttered, glaring at Robin Hood. "How dare you?" he hissed.

Robin shrugged. "You reap what you sow, sire," he drawled, offering a mocking bow.

"He could do that, couldn't he?" Barkley interjected, scratching at his white head. "Succeed you, I mean. Sire."

"Over my dead body!" Prince John roared.

Robin laughed. "That's the idea," he allowed.

The raider was not amused. "Stand down, Robin Hood, or Prince John dies!" he shouted.

"I'm afraid I can't do that," Robin replied. "So...guess you'll have to kill him."

"So be it!" the raider snarled, pulling back his sword to strike the Prince down. But his sword fell to the ground as Robin's blade entered his heart.

Prince John had fallen to his knees and was sniveling and shaking, expecting to die at any moment. Only when he heard a thud did he open his eyes to see the raider lying beside him, dead eyes staring at nothing. "Ahhhhh!" Prince John yelped, scooting backwards.

Robin moved to his side, having wiped his blade off on the dead man's shirt. He was not happy that he'd had to kill those two men, but he knew that more chaos would have abounded had Prince John been slain. "Go home, Prince," Robin said shortly, as he stepped past the cowering monarch. Only to find fingers clutching at his pant leg.

"Don't leave me here, Robin," Prince John beseeched him. He pointed to the men Robin had shot in the leg. "They might hurt me if you go."

"Sorry," Robin drawled. "But I'm on a quest. Go home, Sire. And lock yourself in. It's not safe for man, nor beast, right now." Robin spoke in a tone that he knew would frighten the other man.

Barkley rushed over to Robin and gave him a hug. "You saved us!" he declared.

Robin shook Barkley off him and scowled. "That's right. I did my good deed for the day. Now take Prince John home. And stay there, like I told you."

"Whatever you say, Robin," Barkley declared. He went to Prince John and helped the monarch to rise. Then he retrieved their horses. A moment later, they rode off, heading back to the castle. "What next?" Robin muttered to himself, as he resheathed his sword, then collected his bow. He whistled for his stallion and a moment later was heading back towards the center of the storm.

 

Olwyn was keeping watch over Robin from his chambers. "Be careful what you say, my boy," he whispered. "What next...indeed."

Little John studied the tracks in the road, then scratched his head. He knew that Marion and Tuck were waiting for him to speak so he stood up and smiled at him. "Well....Robin passed this way," he confirmed.

Tuck rolled his eyes. "Yes..yes. But how far ahead of us is he?" he queried. Little John could be so dense at times and the Friar lacked the patience to be understanding with him at this point. But he tried to remind himself that his anger was the result of the chaos that abounded.

"I can't say," Little John confessed. "But I would guess a couple of hours."

"Then we'd better hurry," Marion interjected. She mounted her horse and rode off, not bothering to wait for her companions. Her only concern was in finding Robin.

 

 

Robin continued heading for the eye of the storm, but it would be a long journey and darkness was falling. So he headed for an Inn that was just off the main road. But as he took a shortcut through the woods, he came across a campfire. And a familiar figure.

"Kemal," Robin whispered, as he slid down from his horse.

The darkskinned warrior was hunched before the fire, a bottle of spirits clutched in one hand. At the sound of approaching footsteps, Kemal stood up and drew his sword. "Who's there?" he shouted, his voice echoing in the shadows.

"It's me, Robin," the outlaw of Sherwood replied, offering a smile as he stepped nearer to the fire. "Rest easy, my friend."

"What are you doing here?" Kemal challenged, his dark eyes gleaming and his sword still raised.

Robin was surprised by the other man's tone. Kemal was angry, and his stance was battle ready. "I'm on a quest," Robin replied. "Kemal....I'm your friend. Put down your sword."

But Kemal shook his head. "You're not my friend, Robin Hood!" he hissed.

"What's gotten into you?" Robin countered, then he saw the bottle in the other man's hand and could see that Kemal was somewhat unsteady on his feet. "You're drunk," Robin said softly.

"Not drunk enough!" Kemal shouted. "I'm still alone! My beatiful princess is lost to me forever. And it's your fault, Robin Hood."

Robin was stunned. He felt regret that Kemal had lost his true love to a demon, but he knew that he was not to blame. But then Robin remembered that evil now lurked in the hearts of friend and foe. And would do so until he had rescued the last Unicorn. So he tried to appease his friend. "I am sorry for your loss, Kemal," Robin said gently. "I wish I could bring her back."

Kemal's eyes flashed. He tossed aside the bottle, slashed the air with his sword, then attacked.

"Kemal!" Robin shouted, as he backpedaled, only just missing being beheaded. "Think about what you're doing," he pleaded with his friend, even as he did back flip over to his stallion to retrieve his own sword. Robin had no intention of hurting Kemal, but he needed to be able to defend himself until he could make the other man see reason.

"I know exactly what I'm doing!" Kemal snarled, lunging forward and slashing at Robin once more. He smiled with satisfaction when his blade drew blood.

Robin hissed with pain and stared at the line of blood that welled up on his bicep. He felt a surge of anger and knew that it wouldn't take much to lose control. But if he let that happen, Robin knew that one of them would die. So he bottled his anger and lowered his sword. He would try and make his friend understand what fed the fires of his rage. "Kemal.." Robin said softly, being careful to keep his distance. "You're not thinking clearly, my friend. Your mind is fuzzy with spirits and your soul is dark. But you must fight the darkness, Kemal. It is not a part of you, but a part of the evil that shadows our world. It can be defeated."

Kemal threw back his head and laughed. "You and your talk of darkness and evil, Robin. Magic and mayhem. You believe in nonsense!"

"I believe in the goodness of your soul," Robin countered, his eyes locking with Kemal's and they beseeched the other man to listen. "My quest is too save the last Unicorn. If it dies, then innocence and light dies with it, my friend. Can't you see the chaos about you. Can't you feel it in your soul?"

"I feel hatred!" Kemal hissed. "I want vengeance!" He lunged forward but stumbled.

Robin stepped forward to help his friend, grabbing Kemal's arm to steady him. He felt the muscles tense beneath his fingers, and he waited for a blow to descend but, to his surprise, Kemal dropped his sword. Then Robin gasped as the other man collapsed into his arms. Laying Kemal gently down, Robin realized that the spirits his friend had imbibed had finally taken effect. "Sleep well," Robin whispered. He found a blanket and drew it over Kemal, then he grabbed his own bedroll and shook it out. Tossing more branches on the fire, Robin curled up on his side then closed his eyes. He would stay with Kemal till his friend awoke, then he would continue on his quest.

 The End Of Chapter Two

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
 Chapter Four
 Chapter Five the Conclusion
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