After Rachel's death Robin was physically there but his mind was somewhere else. Winter had arrived in England and punished Robin with a terrible flu. For days, he was laying in bed, high fevered with his worst nightmares. He saw his past again and again and he couldn't help it. He had, had those dreams many times before, and there was always a dark person he couldn't identify. But this person became clearer to him. The closer she came the better Robin could see her face. It was Rachel.
But what was the meaning of that? Why could he only identify her now after she was dead? Robin woke up, bathed in his own sweat. His whole body burned and he felt as if somebody would had hit his head with a hammer. He looked around, confused, it was dark outside and the rain was falling down on his hut. Next to his bed a candle burned. He was alone in his hut. A try to stand up failed pitiable, because only the smallest movement would have been enough to bring him back to sleep. He didn't want that at all; his dreams were to painful. So there was nothing left for him to do except to lay back motionless and to wait for the morning to arrive. Minutes seemed to be like hours and hours seemed to be as long as days.
Early the next morning Marion and Friar Tuck came into Robin's hut. Silently, so as not to wake up the supposedly sleeping Robin, they silently entered. Marion was very relieved when she saw that Robin was finally awake. Tuck was also relieved. He wasn’t completely sure if Robin would survive the flu. But now there was no doubt about that for him anymore.
Robin was still coughing seriously. "How are you, my friend?" Tuck asked.
"I guess, I'll be fine. But at the moment I feel more dead than alive." Robin tried to smile. It failed.
"You still sound like that. You'll have to stay in bed for the next few days." Robin sighed.
"And how many days do you think I should stay in bed? I've been here for days now. I want to get out of here."
"Your flu isn't interested in what you like. You stay in bed and recover, boy." Tuck said determined. Robin didn't even try to say anything against that, because he knew that he wouldn't have a chance against the friar. He nodded.
"Better sleep now. Your body needs rest. The fever weakened you pretty much."
"Am I at least allowed to talk for a short time to our patient?" Marion asked. Tuck smiled. "Of course you are. Some cheering up won't bother him. It's good medicine." With that said, Tuck left the hut.
"Hey, great warrior, how do you feel?" Marion twinkled at him.
"Miserable, to tell you the truth, and pretty tired. Marion, excuse me, but I really want to sleep for a while." Robin pleaded with her.
Marion was surprised. She thought that maybe he wanted to talk to her, but now he was almost kicking her out of his door. She didn't know what to think of that at all. It made her angry. Without another word said she left Robin's hut. How could he just behave like that?
But Robin couldn't have answered her that himself. Rachel's death hit him to hard. He knew that she wanted to give him strength and courage for his future life with her last words. But hadn't he lost the strength and the hope for life's sense - that time in his past, when everything was taken away from him? Robin couldn't even think of any sleep. He was too deep in his sorrowful thoughts.
After Rachel came back into his life, he had found a sense in what he was doing for the very first time for so long. She was kind and merciful to him and gave him the feeling of safety and being loved. After her death a deep black hole in the ground opened before his feet that seemed impossible for him to get over. First Robin had tried to avert this by doing his usual things - robbing everyone who had Norman blood in his veins. But soon he learned that it didn't work. He had to find a sense in what he was doing again.
Robin's recovery was uneasy and slow. The fever came back again and again and with every time it came back it seemed to become worse. Tuck was seriously worried about Robin. He had attended a lot of flu patients in his life but none was as hard as this one, but Tuck associated this with Robin's mental constitution.
It was highly unusual how his illness came on. Hardly, it seemed, that Robin got better, he only became more worse. Robin wasn't able to do all his jobs and so Marion, Tuck, and Little John had to overtake them. Now the three of them understood what it meant for this one man to be Robin Hood. Constantly inhabitants of the camp came and asked him for things; people from the surrounding villages arrived day by day who had to escape from Prince John's soldiers or whose homes were destroyed. Often fathers had been made captives and mothers with their children came to the compound only to save their lives. The village grew with every day that passed by.
A few days later Marion, Friar Tuck, and Little John were sitting around the campfire in the evening. "How could he stand that all the time?" Marion finally asked into the silence. Tuck nodded his head no.
"Hardly. He didn't have anybody all the years through, that he could tell his sorrows - until Rachel entered his life again. Once he had told me himself that there's always been a kind of magical chain between them. He knew that she understood him. But then when she was apart again, this time for forever, a part of himself died." Little John was confused.
"That means that he doesn't trust us, does he?" he asked unbelieving. Tuck nodded no. "No, I'm sure not. But he thinks that he has to fulfill some kind of a model function to us. Robin doesn't want to worry us with his sorrows," Tuck tried to explain his friends' behavior.
Little John was a man who was always acting in good faith and it was hard for him to believe that Robin had had any sorrows. Now seeing that he really had a lot he was ashamed for never noticing it. Friar Tuck noticed his sad face.
"You're not guilty, Little John. Robin is a pretty good actor when it's about to hide his feelings and emotions."
"But why do you know them then?" Little John asked confused. Tuck understood at once what Little John's aim was.
"I'm not a clairvoyant also. Rachel had talked to me, short before her death. It was she who told me that Robin sometimes feels the life he is living as a burden. But his urge for justice is too strong just to give everything up."
During the whole conversation between Tuck and Little John, Marion hadn't even said one word. She was only staring into the burning flames of the fire. Soon Little John said good night and went to sleep. So Friar Tuck and Marion were finally alone. He had seen her like this many times before. She was always looking this way when she had had an argument with Robin.
"What happened?" Tuck asked.
First she didn't answer and he was about to ask another time she cut his word off.
"When Rachel had talked to you about Robin she surely had also talked about our relationship." Marion said.
Tuck nodded. "Well, this afternoon, when you had already had left his hut I thought that maybe he wants to talk. Now, even before I had the chance to say anything he kicked me out of his door on his friendliest way. He said, he wanted to sleep. Robin and sleeping? That's the same as Prince John as a good king. It just doesn't fit. Tuck, I'm seriously worried about him. What would happen if he won't be there anymore?" Marion was despaired.
"Marion, prepare yourself. Robin will never be the same again. The return of
Rachel had changed him. He began to see things with different eyes. But for this new way of seeing things, he needed kind of a third eye that made everything clear to him. But with Rachel's death this eye blinded and Robin stands in front of too many closed doors."
"But that can't be the reason for him do go down. There must be something that helps him to handle with his problems. But what?" Tuck considered for a while.
"The way to the solution of his problems is hidden inside himself. It's also possible that he does already know it, but he couldn't find the courage to walk on it. We can only try to encourage him because courage is what he needs to be able to live again."
"You think, he'll make it?" Marion became insecure.
"I hope so. Now, I think it's better for us to sleep now. We need our forces now."
"I'm afraid to lose him." Tuck hugged Marion. He could feel the tear that was rolling down Marion's cheek. "I know. But the fight is only lost then, when we are all dead an buried."
"You're right. I shouldn't give up before the time." A small smile hushed over her face, showing upcoming hope. "Good night!" with it said, they went their ways.
* * *
During the following two weeks, Robin's health didn't change much. His melancholy just didn't seem to leave. Well, he didn't had that much fever attacks anymore and in the end they were completely away but it still seemed as if he was only a shadow of himself. In the mean time, he also managed to do some of his works again but everything that happened around him just seemed to pass by on him. When Marion talked to him, she had to call his name three times before he recognized her.
"What's going on with you? You seemed to be absent in the last time. Is everything alright with you?" After Marion had said the last word, she wanted to bite herself on her tongue. Of course, he wasn't alright. And her last sentence made Robin only lie.
"Of course, I'm just fine. Well, why not? The flu has weakened me a little bit. I'm still not totally recovered. That's all."
The last part of his answer was certainly true but the first one was a big lie. Nothing was fine with him. He couldn't explain but in the last weeks, his visual power became lower and his hearing was also bad. His left ear was almost completely deaf. His arrows didn't hit their aims anymore. They always went lengths apart. He couldn't explain himself what was going on with him but one thing was for sure. One thing was going along with his symptoms - Rachel's death.
Shortly after she had died, he noticed that his eyesight dimmed. He had to take aim always more exactly and he always needed more time, before he could let his arrows fly. After he had almost recovered from the flu, he always avoided using bow and arrow when others were around. He just couldn't anymore. For robberies, he used to send Marion and Little John alone and he found excuses every time, to justify his acting. In the beginning, none really noticed the changes going on with Robin, but soon Marion saw that something was going wrong. When she asked him, he never answered her. She wanted to help Robin, but didn't know how.
Again a few weeks passed by and Robin's form got even worse. He could hardly see and his right ear was almost completely deaf now. Robin needed help from his closest friends but as often as they offered him help, he didn't accept it. But one day it happened. He was completely blind now and he needed to ask his friends for help in even the smallest matters. Marion cared for him as if she would care for a sick child. It pained her to see the man she loved suffering. Friar Tuck had examined Robin's eye in order to find something there. But there was nothing. With every day that passed by, Robin was cut off a little bit more of the world around him. And that was what he wanted. Only to be alone.
Marion had to suffer much on Robin's loss. She missed the teasing between the two of them and those loving rude remarks. Robin became more and more a stranger to her. It didn't happen often but sometimes he left his hut with his hood deep in his face, groping his way slowly with a long stick, Little John had given him. The other inhabitants of to compound now became even more discontented.
They couldn't tolerate a leader anymore who wasn't able to lean them any longer.
Marion, Little John, and Friar Tuck did notice that and they had to find a way to make Robin the man again he once was. Now it was the time to do something. This time it was Marion who started talking of Olwyn first.
"I think the only one who can still help Robin now, is Olwyn. You know, that I have never trusted him but he seems to be Robin's only way out, now that Rachel is gone..."
"Well Marion, I think that it was Rachel's sudden death which had brought Robin into this bad situation. Certainly, his symptoms are of psychic nature. But you're right. We'll have to ask Olwyn for advice. Who else if not him could help Robin now?" he noted.
"He's the only who can help himself right now, my friend." The voice seemed to come out of nowhere. This so special and unique voice, which thundered and made its way through your bones but never rose above a whisper.
"....Olw....Olwyn...?" Tuck asked into the darkness.
"My friends, Robin has to help himself now. But he doesn't have the necessary will. He can't pull out himself of this depth. We'll need some magic, patience, and a lot of power, if we want to save him."
"And what exactly do you think of?" Marion asked, unable to hide the skepticism in her voice.
"Robin must go through it all another time - to be able to understand. It will be different to what happened in his life before, of course. The way to his recovery are his dreams and Avalon."
"Why Avalon?" Tuck asked.
"Avalon is the beginning and the end, it is the good and the evil in one. Robin's gonna going on a journey - a journey of understanding. When he will be back, he's going to know, why Rachel had to leave him."
"But how can we get him on that journey?" Little John finally asked.
"That's my department. Tomorrow in the morning, Robin won't wake up. Don't be afraid. It will be to help him. The journey won't be easy, but it's the only way to get the old Robin back." With this said, Olwyn left.
"Wonderful! How is this gonna help him?" Marion murmured.
"Marion, Olwyn's Robin last chance. We simply have no other choice. We have to trust in him, wanting or not. Now let's go to sleep. Who knows when we will be able to do it again." Tuck said.
And actually, everything happened the next morning as Olwyn had told them. Robin didn't awake from his sleep. He was restlessly rolling on his bed and sometimes he sighed out as if he had been in pain. If Tuck, Marion, and Little John had known what he was going through right now, they would have understood.
End of Chapter One
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