Marion began walking, but she soon realized that she didn't seem to be going anywhere. The garden was heavy with mist, and seemed to come around in a circle. Wherever she was, she was trapped. But then she saw a movement to her left and before her was a figure in black. "Who are you?" Marion demanded, wishing that she still had her sword.
The figure in black slid back the hood, revealing Marion's own featurues. "Is love ever strong enough?" the other asked.
"What?" Marion shot back, stunned by the sight of herself.
"Is love ever strong enough," repeated her other self.
Marion glared back. "I don't know what you're talking about!" she hissed. But that was a lie. The question was in regards to her love for Robin Hood.
Her other self sighed. "Is it good enough?" it challenged.
"I don't know," Marion whispered. "I wish it to be so," she allowed. But her doubts clung to her like dew to a spiderweb. Robin Hood was the chosen one. The man who would lead all of England to freedom. The man who would save King Richard's throne. But she was just Marion. No one special. And all to often, Marion believed that her love for Robin wasn't equal to his love for her. Yes, she would die for him, they would die for each other. But Robin's love was deep and abiding. For all the women who fawned over him, and the oppurtunities put before him, Marion knew that Robin was faithful to her. His body and heart pure to the promise of their love.
"You love him, you follow him, you would die for him," said the other self. "Is that not enough?"
Marion shook her head. "For another man, but not for Robin Hood," she replied.
Her other self frowned. "But, does he ask more of you?" she questioned.
"Never!" Marion was quick to reply. "He never asks or expects it of me," she said in Robin's defense.
"Then why ask of yourself?" her other replied. "Or...do you expect more from him?"
Marion sighed. "He gives me all of himself, everyday. What more could I want...or need? No...I expect nothing."
Her otherself mirrored the sigh. "How sad," she whispered.
"Sad?" Marion echoed. "What do you mean?"
"Robin Hood will face his destiny alone," her other self replied. And then she turned and faded back into the mists.
Marion didn't follow. She stood rooted to the spot, the words echoing in her head. "Robin is never alone!" Marion hissed. "I'm always with him. If only in his heart." And she knew that Robin carried her in his heart, as she carried him in hers. They were always within each others hearts. There was no other love. And with love, came faith. "Faith.." Marion whispered, as understanding dawned. She had doubted Robin. His faith in the Unicorn. And by doing so she had doubted her love. But no more, Marion vowed, silently. And in that moment the mist cleared. She saw the eye of the storm and ran towards it, without looking back.
Robin made his way towards the waterfall. It seemed to him to come no closer, although he must have walked miles by now. Still, Robin was in awe of it, for against the background of the darkened sky it glistened like a jewel.
"Admire it later," said a deep voice.
"Olwyn?" Robin whispered as he whirled around. Sure enough his mentor stood before him. "What are you doing here?" Robin queried. "I thought I had to face Gal alone?"
Olwyn shrugged, then leaned on his staff. "Suppose this is just a dream, Robin? Or another vision. Maybe it's the same vision as the one I first gave you. Maybe you've never left it. And all that has occurred since then is just a dream. For all you know, you're still in my cave. Still lying, unconscious, on the floor."
Robin shook his head. "No..this isn't a dream," he declared, with unshakable certainty. But in the back of his mind a tiny voice hissed...are you sure? And in that moment lightning struck the ground between Robin and Olwyn and it shook beneath them even as thunder boomed. And through the din could be heard the echo of malevolent laughter. It brushed against Robin's face like a cold wind.
Repressing a shiver, Robin glanced about him, seeing the sky darken further and the wind rise. But then he turned to face Olwyn once more. "How can I prove that this is real?" Robin demanded.
"Only you know the answer to that, Robin," Olwyn replied. Then he cocked his head to one side and asked, "Do you know what it is that you believe in?"
"What do you mean?" Robin countered, a frown furrowing his brow.
Olwyn sighed. "It was a simple enough question, my boy. But let me rephrase it. "What do you believe in?"
Robin was silent for a moment, contemplating the question. "I believe in goodness and light," he said softly.
"Which are...what?" Olwyn shot back. "What is goodness? The opposite of evil? Then what is evil?" He shot the questions at Robin, one after the other. But now he paused, waiting for a response.
"Why are you asking me these questions?" Robin countered. He was certain that the being before him wasn't Olwyn, yet he also was certain that he was being tested. Robin just wasn't sure of the consequences should he fail.
Olwyn laughed. "How can you fight for good, Robin Hood, if you don't know what it is you're fighting for?"
Robin had an answer to that remark. "I fight for the people of England," he said softly. "For the weak, the oppressed, and the innocent. I fight so that men may be free, and that they may live in peace. I fight for what is good in all of us."
"But who decides what is good?" Olwyn countered, his eyes flashing blue sparks. "Do you decide, Robin?"
"No," Robin whispered. "God decides," he said firmly.
Olwyn shook his head. "What if there is no God?" he hissed.
Robin's eyes narrowed and he glared at Olwyn. "But there is!" he declared, vehemently.
"Can you see him?" Olwyn prompted.
"No," Robin confessed.
Olywn sighed again. "Then how do you know that he is there?" he challenged. "How do you know God exists?"
A soft smile curved Robin's lips. "Because I have faith," he whispered. "That's how I know. I have faith in myself, and the good that I can do. And I have faith in my friends. In their love for me...and their loyalty. They would die for me, as I would die for them."
"But they doubted you, Robin," Olwyn shot back, somewhat maliciously. "They don't believe in the Unicorn."
"We all have doubts at one time or another," Robin replied, calmly. "Whether or not they believe me doesn't matter. If I need them, they will be there for me. Even when they doubt, they stand beside me."
Olwyn waved one hand, gesturing about them. "Where are your friends now, Robin Hood? I don't see them."
Robin touched his fingertips to his chest, directly over his heart. "They're here, where they have always been...and will always be."
"Good luck, Robin Hood," whispered Olwyn, then he faded into a shadow and was gone.
"I guess that means I passed," Robin muttered beneath his breath, as he gazed about once more and noticed that the sky had lightened a bit. "Onward," he declared, as he focused once more on the waterfall in the distance. For he knew that it was there that he would find the Unicorn.
Robin walked for what felt like hours. He could see the waterfall but it didn't seem to be getting any closer. Finally he stopped to rest, sitting down and leaning his back against a silver-barked tree. He closed his eyes and dozed off without realizing it, coming awake when he heard the sound of crying. A child's tears.
Jumping to his feet, Robin searched about him, trying to locate the source of the sound. It seemed to be coming from his left, so he took off in that direction. He was heading into the woods, and he hadn't gone far when he saw a little girl. She had blond curls and wore a white dress. Both of her hands were pressed to one knee as she sat in a patch of velvet green grass. Robin moved to kneel beside her. "What's wrong?" he asked, keeping his tone soft and low so as not to frighten her.
"I hurt...my...knee.." the little girl sobbed.
"Let me see," Robin beseeched, reaching for her small hands. She moved them away from her leg to reveal a deep scrape that dripped blood down her calf. "What's your name?" Robin asked, as he ripped a strip of cloth from the ruffle of the little girls petticoat. At least it was clean.
The little girl sniffled, watching Robin closely. "My name is Galena," she said softly. That's a beautiful name, for a beautiful girl," Robin said, as he folded the piece of petticoat into a pad and pressed it to the wound then smiled. "The bleeding will stop soon and you'll be fine," he assured Galena.
"Thank you," she whispered, shyly, a smile lighting up her sweet face.
"Are you alone here?" Robin asked, as he glanced about, expecting to see Galena's parents pop up at any minute. But then he wondered if she had parents. After all, this was a different realm from his world. The rules were different.
Galena tilted her head to one side and studied Robin with sapphire blue eyes. "Are you afraid?" she asked, her voice becoming husky. Robin shook his head. "Of you?" he countered, teasingly. "Of course not." "Then you're a fool!" Galena hissed, and in that moment she struck out, the heel of her tiny hand slamming into Robin's chin. He fell onto his back and lay there, stunned. Galena jumped up to stand over him. Her eyes were like twin flames. "How trusting you are, Robin Hood!" she drawled, and now her voice was deep in her chest and it seemed to echo in the air. "What the..." Robin breathed, as he scrambled to his feet. And not a moment too soon for Galena rushed forward and in her hand was a dagger. She slashed at Robin and he jumped back, the blade just missing his stomach. Galena stalked Robin, and cold laughter rumbled from her chest. "Do you see only with your eyes, Robin Hood?" she taunted. "Do you not see the truth behind the lie? Do you not know what is real, and what is illusion?" Robin realized he was being tested again and he was getting tired of it. So his expression was grim as he fell into a battle-ready stance. "I know that you're not as sweet as you look!" he drawled. "Children shouldn't play with daggers. You could hurt yourself." "The only one who's going to be hurt is you, Robin Hood!" Galena shrieked, and then she attacked again. "I don't think so.." Robin snarled, and he was ready for her this time. As Galena came at him, Robin doged to the side and grabbed her fragile wrist. He knew that she was far stronger than she looked, so he wrenched it hard till she dropped the dagger, then Robin scooped it up and danced backwards. "Now...Let's start over, shall we?" he beseeched.
Galena giggled, once again sounding like a little girl. "You will die for what you believe in, Robin Hood," she whispered. "But will you kill for it as well?" Robin frowned, then shook his head. "What do you mean?" he questioned, heartily wishing that everyone would stop talking at him in riddles.
"Can you kill me?" Galena asked, as she took a step towards him. Her hands
were clasped behind her back and her face wore an expression of pure innocence.
Her voice had softened again as well. To all intents and purposes, she was
a six year old girl. "Why would I want to kill you?" Robin countered, but
his tone was colored with suspicion, and he kept a wary eye on Galena's movements,
not allowing her too close. She offered a beatific grin. "Can you kill evil
in any form, Robin?" Galena questioned, as she took another step towards him.
End of Chapter Four