By Shelly Quinn
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Hedrek stood over the pit of magic flames. They burned as fire did, but without heat. And when he waved his hand over them, they became crystalline so that images could appear to him, and within the flame, he saw three figures. A woman and two men. Marion, Friar Tuck and Little John. Friends of the infamous Robin Hood. Hedrek smiled, then spoke an incantation.
"From the heart of darkness where evil lurks cast your shadows upon the light. Turn the souls of good to evil, and poison the love that is the source of harmony. Let the chains of my will be cast, and into bondage bind the three to seek the one. The blood of purity shall I drink and the spirit of innocence will be my redemption."
The incantation spoken, Hedrek then waved his hands over the magic flames once more and the spell was cast. From this moment on, Robin Hood's friends would become his enemy. Marion, Friar Tuck, and Little John were now servants to Hedrek's will. and it was his desire that they bring Robin Hood to him.
One hundred and thirteen years ago, Hedrek had been cast out of the
Circle of Darkness. He had betrayed his brethren and so had been banished
as punishment. But now he was being offered the chance to return, but only
if he proved himself worthy. And to do that he must claim the soul of a man
who was symbolized the light. And that man was Robin Hood. And the energy
of Robin's life-force, once absorbed into Hedrek's dark soul, would make
the sorcerer the most powerful of his kind. He would return to the Dark Circle
a Sovereign, leaving three centuries of servitude behind. And it was a moment
that Hedrek had been waiting for all his life.
Robin and Marion were in the meadow by the lake. Tuck had sent them there to gather wildflowers for the wedding ceremony that would take place in the Sherwood compound come twilight. It was just after dawn now and the day promised to be warm and bright.
Marion had a basket and it was filled with tigerlilies. She had bid Robin to gather wild honeysuckle, but his basket was empty. She was about to question why when she realized that Robin was stretched out in the velvet grass, lying on his back, eyes closed. It was then that Marion remembered that he hadn't slept in over a day, for he had been out during the night helping a farmer and his family that were having troubles with poachers. So Marion tiptoed over to Robin now and knelt down beside him. She smiled as she studied him.
In slumber, Robin looked sweetly young. His eyelashes were long and lush and fanned across his cheeks. His hair was spread out like dark silk against the emerald grass and he was so beautiful that it made Marion's heart ache. She bent to brush a kiss to his sensual lips when she felt a sudden tingle deep inside her. Then a voice in her head called her name. Marion blinked, then a cold smile curved her lips. She moved to straddle Robin's waist and her hands gripped his wrists, pinning his arms by his head.
Robin awoke to the sensation of pain. Fingers crushing bone and he was more than a little surprised to see Marion's face looming over him when he opened his eyes. More surprised still Robin was to realize that it was Marion's fingers gripping his wrists and that she was the one causing him pain. But he smiled at her and teased, "Was it good for you?"
Marion's eyes were narrowed as her fingers tightened on
Robin's wrists. "You will come with me.." she hissed.
"Uh...Marion," Robin began, as he tugged on his wrists to free himself. But the warrior woman's grasp was surprisingly strong, so Robin sighed then heaved upward, rolling Marion off him. He continued rolling and came to his feet only to see her uncoil her whip. "Getting a bit kinky, aren't we?" Robin joked. But then he locked eyes with Marion and what he saw made him gasp. Her eyes were glowing red. "Marion..." Robin whispered, taking a step forward. It was a mistake, for in that moment she lashed out with her whip and it coiled around Robin's legs. He felt her tug and then he was falling.
"You will come with me," Marion repeated, as she moved to stand over Robin. When he didn't move she bent down only to find herself yanked down to the ground and pinned beneath Robin's body. Robin glared at Marion, his eyes studying her face as he tried to determine what was going on. He was pretty sure magic was involved. "Marion...I want to help you," Robin whispered.
Marion laughed a sound that was cold and mirthless. "I must take you to my master," she declared.
"That's a start," Robin muttered beneath his breath. Then he asked, "Who is your master?"
"Come with me, Robin," Marion repeated, her standard response.
Robin sighed. "I don't think so," he drawled. He moved off of Marion and stood up, drawing her with him. "We're going to see Olwyn," Robin declared. But when he made to pull Marion off towards the horses he found her offering resistance. Robin stepped forward with the intent of heaving Marion over his shoulder when he cried out. Marion had delivered an uppercut to Robin's chin which knocked him off his feet.
Reaching for her whip, Marion let it slash the air. She was not to harm Robin Hood, but she must not fail her master. Snapping the whip at Robin, Marion watched as he scrambled to his feet. She made to lash out at his legs again, but Robin did a back handspring, putting distance between them. "My master awaits," Marion hissed.
"I'm afraid he'll have to keep waiting," Robin shot back. He did three back handsprings in a row, landing by his horse. Not wanting to take any chances until he understood what was going on,
Robin reached for the reins to Marion's horse as well. She would have
a long walk back to the compound, but maybe it would help her to change
back to normal. Robin had his doubts, but decided to remain optimistic.
At least until he spoke with Olwyn. That thought in mind, Robin been low
over his stallion's neck as they raced off like the wind.
Little John had been hunting. He had a pouch slung over his back and filled with three, wild, pheasants. They would be part of the wedding feast. As he walked, Little John hummed a merry tune. But he felt silent when he heard a voice call his name. "Who's there?" Little John called out, but then he realized that the voice was coming from inside his head. He fell silent once more then he froze. His eyes closed and he stood where he was, waiting.
Robin sent Marion's horse home on it's own as he took a shortcut that would bring him to Olwyn's cave. But along the way he spotted Little John and he felt relief wash over him. Maybe his giant friend could help him make sense of what had happened. Perhaps Marion had been acting out of character lately and Robin simply hadn't noticed. Reining in to come to a stop, Robin greeted his friend. "Little John!"
The giant watched Robin dismount, then he walked over to the outlaw of Sherwood. Without a word Little John grabbed Robin about the waist and hauled him up and over the front of his horse. He then mounted up, grabbed the reins and dug his heels into the horse's flanks. They galloped off.
"HEY!" Robin protested. "Little John! STOP!" When it appeared the giant wasn't listening, Robin pursed his lips and released a shrill whistle. Immediately his stallion came to a halt and Robin slid from his back. But he found his wrist grasped in Little John's steel fingers as the giant dismounted as well. Robin locked eyes with his friend and, somehow, wasn't surprised to see that Little John's blue gaze now glowed red.
"You must come with me," Little John declared, as he moved with lightning speed and tossed Robin over his shoulder. Then he made to sling the other man over the saddle again.
But Robin had had enough. He pushed off of Little John's back so that he could grasp a handful of the giant's long, blond hair, then he yanked for all he was worth. Robin grimaced when he heard Little John's howl of pain, but didn't let go. A moment later he achieved his desired reaction and found himself dumped to the ground. Robin then rolled to his feet and glared at the other man. "Little John, what is going on?" Robin demanded.
Little John blinked back tears of pain as he rubbed at his scalp. He wasn't angry, however, as he faced Robin. "My master awaits you," he stated, his tone dead and cold.
"Who is your master?" Robin hissed.
"Come with me," Little John countered, taking a step forward.
Robin was ready for him. He felt a momentary twinge of guilt, but dissolved it. Then he delivered a roundhouse kick that connected solidly with Little John's chin. The giant went down to his knees and Robin ran for his horse. He mounted then rode off without a backwards glance.
From his chambers in the Black woods, Hedrek watched Robin Hood. The image of the outlaw was clear in his magic flames. Hedrek was furious. Robin had escaped both Marion and Little John, something Hedrek had not expected. Yet a part of him was pleased, for the outlaw was clever which made things interesting. For now. But, in the end, Robin Hood would be delivered unto him. And before the passing of the full moon, Hedrek would claim the outlaws soul and take his rightful place within the Dark Circle. It was his destiny, and Robin Hood's fate.
End of Chapter one
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