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



Chapter Five

Robin back pedalled. "If you have a point, I'd appreciate it if you'd get to it...sometime today." He grimaced. "I have places to go and things to do," he drawled, letting his voice drip with sarcasm.

"You have to go through me to reach the Unicorn, Robin," Galena whispered. "Can you spill my blood upon the grass?"

"I don't think that will be neccessary," Robin countered, as he took a running leap and did a somersault over Galena's head. Grinning, Robin offered a mock bow. "See you later," he stated, turning to go, only to find his way blocked by Galena. She had simply appeared there. "Neat trick," Robin whispered.

She threw back her head and laughed. "Nice try, Robin," Galena drawled. "But you must kill me, or be killed. What's it going to be?" Robin pretended to consider, then he smiled.

"Well...since you put it that way. Goodbye." And so saying, Robin flipped the dagger in his hand so that his fingers gripped the blade. Then he flung it at Galena, aiming for her heart. Robin could hear the thud of the blade implanting itself in Galena's chest, and winced. But then gasped as he watched Galena collapse to the ground. She cried out in pain and began weeping. Robin was beside her in a heartbeat, lifting her in his arms so that she was cradled against his chest. In that moment he believed he had made a horrible mistake. "No.." Robin cried softly, as he pulled out the dagger.

"Too....late.." Galena whispered. "My blood...stains...your hands. Innocent..blood."

"Innocent blood..." Robin echoed, as he raised one hand before his face. But then he shook his head. "Tainted blood!" Robin hissed. Shifting Galena in his arms, he reached for the dagger and sliced the blade across one palm. Once his own blood was dripping, Robin pressed his hand over the wound in Galena's chest.

She opened her mouth and howled. A sound that pierced the air, shattering the stillness. It was a cry of agony. And in that moment Galena changed. The little girl faded away to be replaced by a creature that was dark and twisted. Robin dropped it to the ground and moved away, staring in horror. But even as he watched the creature shook with spasms then became still, as if frozen. A moment later it turned to ash and disintigrated into a pile of silver-gray dust. Kicking one foot through it, Robin heaved a sigh.

"Can't wait to see what shows up next," he whispered. Staring down at his hands, Robin realized that they were clean again. No blood. "Guess I passed this test as well," he muttered. Then he scooped up the dagger that was lying by his feet, tucked it in his belt, and headed off towards the falls. Time was running out. To Robin's surprise, the waterfall suddenly seemed to appear before him when just a few minutes ago it had seemed miles away. Of course, in this place, he couldn't judge anything by what he considered to be *normal* standards. Something else he had noticed was that the wind had picked up again, blowing his hair into his eyes.

"Well...I'm here," Robin muttered, as he turned a slow circle. He didn't know what to expect next. Nor how to find the Unicorn. In his vision it had appeared from out of the falls. But this was no vision. Even as the thought occurred, lightning flashed, striking close by Robin. He jumped, then jumped again as thunder boomed and shook the air. Then darkness descended, like a blanket that would smother Robin. It was in that moment that the Unicorn appeared. Robin held his breast as the magnificent creature stood before him.

It pawed the ground with one hoof, then tossed it's head, white mane flowing over it's neck. And the darkness faded, the sky shading to crimson, then gold. The wind ceased, as did the lightning, and the thunder was silenced.

"So far so good," Robin whispered, a smile curving his lips. He huffed out the breath he had been holding, then approached the Unicorn. To his surprise it waited for him. But even as he reached out to touch it, the ground beneath Robin's feet began to shake. "Great!" he muttered, as he fought to retain his balance. There was another flash of lightning, blindingly bright, forcing Robin to shield his eyes.

And when he opened them again, a creature stood before him. Half man and half beast, the creature was huge. His legs were thick as tree trunks and corded with muscle that could be seen inspite of the pelt of dark fur that covered them. His shoulders were massive and bulging, his biceps thicker than Robin's thighs. His face was not human, it resembled a wolf, but the features were flattened. Robin could guess who he now faced. "Gal.." he whispered.

"Robin Hood," the creature replied. His voice was deep and vied the thunder in intensity. "You would dare to challenge me?" "Actually, I'd prefer to discuss our differences," Robin drawled. And a part of him wasn't kidding. The only weapon he possessed was a dagger and looking at the Assassin of the underworld, Robin knew that stabbing Gal with it would be paramount to a papercut.

Where as, on the otherhand, a hit from Gal with one of his massive fists, or a kick from those powerful legs, and Robin knew he would shatter like crystal. Gal through back his head and laughed, and the air shook from the vibrations. "You will die, as will the Unicorn," the Assassin announced. "And darkness will rule the world."

Robin sighed. "Since you put it that way....let's get this over with, shall we?" His fingers curled around the dagger and Robin fell into a battle stance.

"Goodbye, Robin Hood," Gal whispered. Then, from out of thin air, a bow and arrow appeared in the Assassin's hands. He turned and aimed at the Unicorn.

"NO!" Robin shouted, moving to shield the Unicorn as best he could. Then he shook his head as a voice whispered in his mind. ...believe.... Robin wasn't sure what that meant, but he took it at face value, and he envisioned a bow and arrow in his own hands. He was startled when, a moment later, they appeared. A grim smile curled Robin's lips as he took aim and let the arrow fly towards Gal's heart. Gal screamed as the arrow imbedded itself in his chest. It pierced his heart, but he did not falter. Grasping the shaft of the arrow in one hand, Gal yanked it out then tossed it aside.

"You cannot kill me, Robin Hood," he hissed, as he moved to face the mortal. He lifted the bow in his hands once again, but when he would have fired his arrow it suddenly disappeared.

"It worked," Robin whispered, for he had envisioned the arrow disappearing. The next thing he imagined was a broadsword and he smiled when one appeared in his hand. Turning now, to face the Unicorn, Robin was relieved to see that it had run back to the Water fall. For now, it would be safe. At least until Robin could figure out a way to kill Gal.

"Once you are dead, the Unicorn will follow," Gal hissed, as he tossed aside the bow and advanced on Robin.

Offering a dimpled grin as he backpedalled, Robin taunted, "You keep repeating yourself. Get some new dialogue, will ya?"

The words had barely left his mouth when Gal attacked. Robin slashed at the Assassin with his sword, but did little more than enrage the beast. He tried again and blade went spinning out of his hand as Gal knocked it aside.

"Not good," Robin drawled. He tried to back up but wasn't fast enough and a moment later he went flying through the air to crash into the tree. Robin lay in a dazed heap for a moment, flexing his jaw. Every bone in his body felt bruised and his muscles ached, but he forced himself to rise, and to face Gal with defiance flashing in his eyes.

"Nice backhand," Robin hissed.

Gal stalked the human once again. He attacked but his arm whistled through thin air for Robin had somersaulted over his head. Gal spun around and snarled, then he lashed out with one foot, swiping Robin's feet out from under him. He heard the human hit the ground hard and knew that he was dazed. That was all Gal needed. He raised one foot and was about to stopm it into Robin's chest when he heard a shout. Turning, Gal was stunned to see three other mortals striding towards him. One tall for a mortal, one female, the other rotund.

"Who are you?" Gal demanded, his attention momentarily diverted from Robin Hood.

"Your worst nightmare, furface!" Marion snarled, as she launched herself at the beast. Only to find herself swept aside by a huge hand, as if she were a bug. She lay in the grass, winded. "Pick on someone you're own size!" Little John challenged, as he attacked the beast with a roar of determination. He got in two good hits to the fuzzy face, then found imself somersaulting backwards.

Tuck's approach was more cautious. He figured it might be best to try and reason with the creature, but hadn't even gotten one word out when he was tossed aside as well.

By this time Marion had recovered and went to strike again, only to discover that he hit didn't touch the beast. It was as if some invisible shield were protecting him from her. And it wasn't as if he needed protecting.

"Foolish mortals!" Gal hissed. They were nothing to him and he turned his back on them, focusing his attention back on Robin Hood. "Now you die!" Gal snarled, as he bent over to slam one mighty fist into the human's face. But leaning over was a mistake and Gal windmilled backwards as Robin's foot connected with his chin.

"Bullseye!" Robin crowed. He pushed off from the ground with his hands beside his head and sprang to his feet. While Gal to a moment to recover, Robin turned to face his friends. "What are you doing here?" he asked. Tuck shrugged. He hadn't seen the others until now, but he could guess that they had gone through an experience similar to his own.

"We're here to stand with you, Robin," Tuck replied. "As always." Little John nodded. "By your side," he whispered. "We'll always fight for what you believe in, Robin," Marion added, a smile lighting up her face. "Because we believe in you."

"Thank you," Robin whispered, feeling his heart swell with love and pride. But that was all the time he had for this warm reunion, for Gal was back, and he was pissed. Robin watched the underworld Assassin approach him and he waited for a beat before spinning around and driving his foot into Gal's groin. Since he was male, Robin figured he had to be sensitive there just like a human would be. He was right. Only Gal recovered more quickly than a human would and his hand flashed out, the heel of it slamming into Robin's temple. Gal was pleased as he watched the human crash into another tree then lay still.

"Not much of a challenge," he taunted, as he strode over to Robin.

Marion knew that Robin would be killed if they didn't help him. "Let's attack en masse," she instructed her companions.

They nodded in agreement, then the trio strode forward. But regardless of the force they put behind their blows, the invisible shield kept them from hitting their mark.

"Get lost!" Gal snarled, turning for a moment to swipe at the other humans, like he would at a swarm of gnats. When they backed off, he turned back to Robin. Gal lifted the tiny human over his head, then tossed him at another tree. He threw back his head and laughed when he heard bones snap.

"Robin!" Marion cried out, as she and the others ran to the outlaw. They couldn't attack Gal, but perhaps they could protect Robin, forming a human shield around him. Tuck knelt beside Robin as Little John and Marion stood over them. He could see pain glimmering in his friends eyes and Robin's skin was ashen and sheened with sweat. He wouldn't be able to take much more punishment.

"Rest, Robin," Tuck beseeched, when the younger man tried to rise. Robin grimaced and bit back a cry of pain as he forced his battered body upright.

"No rest...for the wicked," he whispered, referring to Gal. For Robin knew that the creature would be on him in a moment. But it was then that a flash of memory hit Robin.Something that his father had said to him as a child. ....A man's faith, when united with the love of friends and family, is a weapon mightier than the sharpest sword.... "Faith..." Robin sighed, even as he huffed out a breath laced with pain. He let the pain wash over him, then he smiled at Tuck. Suddenly, Robin knew how to defeat Gal. "If we combine our strength, our spirit and our faith....we can kick some royal, assassin....butt," Robin whispered.

"What do you mean?" Tuck countered.

He helped Robin to rise then he and the others listened as the outlaw of Sherwood outlined his plan. It was simple enough, yet Tuck believed it would work. As Gal approached, Tuck, Marion and Little John joined hands before them, while standing in a small circle. Robin put one foot on top of the clasped hands, his hand moving one to LIttle John's shoulder, the other to Marion's.

He waited, bracing himself, till the assassin of the underworld was almost on top of them. Then, as one unit, Tuck and the other lifted Robin into the air. The outlaw somersaulted over their heads, and Gal's, and landed on his feet. Gal whirled around to face the mortal and in that instant, Robin stuck. As he felt the love and faith of his friends flowing into him, Robin combined it with his own strength, love and faith, and put the force of those emotions behind his hit. As if in slow motion, the palm of Robin's right hand slammed into Gal's chest, directly over the creature's heart.

White light, and energy, crackled from robin's palm and burst into flame within Gal. He howled in agony then shook. A moment later he exploded into a flash of bright light which showered sparks in the air. Then he was gone. In that instant, Robin collapsed, his body going limp as if it had turned to liquid. It had been his lifeforce...his spirit and light...that had destroyed Gal, and there was little left to sustain him. Marion and the others ran over to Robin, falling to their knees beside him. "How is he?" Marion asked, as she watched Tuck examine Robin. "Not good," the Friar replied. Robin was barely breathing. "Look!" Little John shouted. He pointed towards the waterfall and gazed in wonderment as the Unicorn appeared. Marion was stunned. "Beautiful," she whispered.

Tuck was amazed as well, but his first concern was for Robin. "We need to get him back to Sherwood," Tuck declared. He gestured for Little John to carry the outlaw and stepped back and the giant lifted Robin into his strong arms. "How do we get home?" Little John asked. The eye of the storm had brought them to this place, but he didn't see it now.

"Good question," Marion replied, as she turned in a circle. Then she gasped, for the Unicorn was suddenly before them. She saw that the magical creature was twice the size of a horse, and it's silvery mane and tail seemed to flow as if lifted by the breeze. But he air was still. It's horn glinted in the sun that had filled the sky, shimmering like frosted ice.

Tuck pulled Marion back as the Unicorn stepped over towards Little John. He sensed that the creature wanted to see Robin. And he was right. As they watched, the Unicorn lowered it's magnificent head and nuzzled Robin Hood's cheek with it's nose. Then it lowered it's head further till the tip of it's horn touched over Robin's heart.

White-light danced out of the horn and into Robin's body.

Little John felt a buzzing sensation in his skin, but he remained rock-steady as the light continued to flood into Robin. Then it dimmed and the Unicorn stepped back. It turned and ran a short distance away, then it reared up, it's front hooves pawing the air.

"Ohhhh..." Marion gasped, as a rainbow suddenly formed behind the Unicorn, arcing high into the sky and shimmering with bright colors.

"Marion.."

She turned at the sound of her name to see Robin stirring in Little John's arms. "Robin!" Marion cried, rushing over to him. "How do you feel?" Robin blinked, one hand lifteing to touch his chest for he felt a warm sensation. Then he realized that he was in Little John's arms. "You can put me down now, John" Robin whispered. A moment later he was on his feet, but Little John's hand was on his arm to support him. "Gal?" Robin questioned, for the details of what had occurred once he had struck the assassin were fuzzy.

"Gone," Tuck replied with satisfaction. "Are you all right, Robin?" he queried, since the outlaw had avoided Marion's question. "I think so," Robin replied, offering a dimpled grin. He turned then and saw the rainbow. And the Unicorn. Robin left his friends to cross over to the magic creature. Once he was standing before it Robin reached out and his fingers touched the silky nose.

In that moment images flashed in his mind. His defeating Gal, his own collapse and the Unicorn healing him. Robin blinked, then he smiled. "Thank you," he whispered. Then, in his head, he heard a soft voice whisper. "...thank you, Robin Hood..." Marion and the others watched as Robin petted the Unicorn, then the beast turned and raced off, back towards the waterfall. It was a breathtaking sight.

Robin rejoined his friends. "I think it's time to go home," he ventured. And in that moment lightning flashed and struck the ground around them. A dozen flashes in quick succession, and then a blinding light.

When everyone could see again, they realized they were home. The compound in Sherwood forset. They looked around and relieved to see that things were back to normal. Peace abounded and laughter filled the air. The sky was bright and clear and the scent of wildflowers drifted in the gentle breeze. The darkness was gone, but not forgotten, still it was good to be home. And to know that the good guys had won this round.

"We did good," Robin said soflty, as his gaze fell on each of his friends in turn. So much had happened but he knew that words weren't neccessary for they all felt the same way. Each had looked into their own souls and discovered someone they could be proud of. "I feel like a swim," Little John announced. Then he looked at the others. "Anyone want to join me?" Without saying a word, Robin linked arms with Little John, then Marion followed suit, as did Tuck. Smiling amongst themselves the small group headed out, side by side, as they would always be.

THE END

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