Robin woke up with a start. He could still hear Olwyn's call.
"Robin, come to me!"
The eerie call repeated over and over in his head. He knew, deep inside, something was terribly wrong. Quickly rising from his bed of furs, Robin moved across the dark room to find a tunic to wear. Pulling it over his head, he strapped his belt on, grabbed his sword, bow, and quiver, and pulled back the flap to his tent. It was still dark out. The cool night wind blew at him, causing him to shiver. Hoping this was not an ominous sign, Robin started walking toward the horses. Sliding his sword into its sheath, he strapped on his quiver, slinging his bow over his shoulder as he made his way there.
"Halt, who goes there?" A tense voice called out in the night.
"Whoa there, Sean! It's me!" Robin replied softly.
Sean brought his lamp up and breathed a sigh of relief.
"What are you doing up, Robin? It's just barely past midnight."
Robin walked to his bay stallion and started saddling him.
"Got a call from Olwyn, Sean. He sounded desperate. I need to see him now."
"Are you sure it's safe to go out this late at night?" Sean asked, concerned.
Robin just chuckled. "You don't have to worry about me, Sean. I know these woods like the back of my hand. I can move through them blindfolded."
Sean motioned toward the sky. "Well, tonight you may have to. There's no moon out."
Robin looked up. The night was indeed clear, with not a cloud in sight. Searching the sky, he confirmed Sean's words, no moon. Perfect for sorcery, he thought. Robin quickly finished cinching the saddle onto his horse. If something was wrong with Olwyn, he had better hurry. He grabbed the pommel and leaped into the air, pulling himself up and into his saddle. Settling himself, he glanced down at Sean.
"If I'm not back by dawn, tell the others where I went." Loosening the reins, Robin urged his horse on, into the darkness.
"Okay, Robin." Sean called out softly, and after seeing Robin disappear into the night, he resumed his patrol.
Robin rode on, into the night. He wanted to push his horse harder but knew it wasn't a safe thing to do in the darkness. Olwyn's pleas had sounded urgent. If Olwyn needed him this late at night, he knew it had to be something serious. The dark of the moonless night was intense. As he rode on, Robin glanced about, looking for any signs of danger. In previous times when Olwyn called him, there had always been some kind of dire threat, to either himself or to his friends, as Robin neared the area where Olwyn lived, he could see the way was already open. That was curious. Olwyn had never left the hidden path open before. Robin drove his mount faster. Now, he knew something was definitely wrong.
He pulled back on the reins his horse dug its hooves into the dirt, sliding to a quick stop. Robin jumped off the large bay, and leading him by the reins, tied the stallion to a nearby tree.
Robin stood by his mount, staring at the ominous sight of the entrance to Olwyn's home. It never ceased to amaze him. A smoky mist emanated from no where yet it seemed to come from everywhere. A bright light shown from the caves entrance. He always felt a chill walking into it. Taking a deep breath, he gently patted his horse on the neck. "You stay here, boy." The horse whined at its master's voice, nudging his nose into Robin’s long hair. Giving him a final pat Robin walked towards the entrance.
Steeling himself for possible danger, Robin walked carefully into the mist. As he entered the first chamber, he expected to see the familiar guardian of Olwyn's home, but found the entrance to the cave empty. No dragon. Now, Robin was becoming worried. The last time that had happened, was when the nightmare castle had appeared. Robin reached over his shoulder and pulled his sword. It was so still in the cave, the scrapping of the blade out of its sheath echoed in the chamber. Holding the blade in front of him, Robin cautiously entered the second chamber.
Trying to search the second chamber with his eyes, he found the darkness so intense nothing was visible. Very little light emanated from the room. If something was in the room waiting for him, he wanted to be ready for it. Backing out, he placed his hand over his eyes and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then, he turned and re-entered the chamber. As he brought his hand down, Robin was now able to see more clearly into the room. His eyes adapted to the darkness.
Robin quickly scanned the room. He became more concerned by what he saw. The room was in a shambles. Something terrible had happened. "Olwyn!" he softly cried out. "Are you here?" Moving further into the room, Robin saw the center of the room was bare, almost as if an explosion had thrown everything towards the outer walls.
Robin walked cautiously around the chamber, searching for any sign of Olwyn, expecting the worst. His heart beat faster. He hoped he would be able to find his friend alive, but by the looks of things in the room, that prospect was growing dimmer. Then he heard something. Listening carefully, he could make out a soft crying.
Robin followed the sound to a dark corner of the room. There, sitting in the rubble, was a young man. He appeared to be not much more than fourteen years old. The boy had a look of confusion. Suddenly, realizing that someone was there, the child looked up. He saw a tall handsome man standing before him. His long sable hair fell past his shoulders. His face was warm and gentle looking, a dimpled smile upon his face. His liquid brown eyes sparkled with a kindness. Giving him the impression that this was a good-hearted man. Seeing the deadly sword held in the man’s hand the boy became frightened, he let out a gasp of fear. Robin, realizing he was still brandishing his sword, carefully put it back in its sheath. Putting his hands out in remission, Robin tried to reassure the boy.
"Please, don't be frightened. I promise I won't hurt you. Look, I've put the weapon away."
The boy calmed down as soon as Robin stopped advancing on him. Robin could tell the boy was becoming more tranquil, his eyes slowly losing their look of fear. Standing still, he tried not make any sudden moves that the boy could mistake for an attempt to harm him. Robin knew he had to convince the boy that he would be safe before he could find out anything from him. Robin began to examine the boy more closely, all the time, keeping the smile on his face. The child's hair was dark brown, and his eyes were as deep a brown. As Robin continued to gaze at the boy, he noticed the clothes that he wore. They were similar to what Olwyn always wore, only on a smaller scale. Robin expressive eyes went wide when he saw what the boy wore around his neck. It was the same necklace that Olwyn always wore! Searching again in the boy's eyes, he saw something else, and what he saw confirmed what Robin had begun to suspect.
"Who are you?" Robin asked gently.
The boy stood up, trying to compose himself, pulling on his robes to straighten them out. Brushing his sleeves off, his face became a stone mask. "I might ask you the same question. You look like a mercenary to me.'
Robin laughed. "I'm no mercenary. I'm . . ."
The boy raised his arm to stop Robin, and stammered out "N . . . no, let me tell you."
Robin crossed his arms and gently smiled at the boy. "Okay, tell me who I am."
As the child stared deeply into Robin's eyes, Robin felt a great pressure on his mind. To Robin, it appeared as if the boy's eyes were glowing. He felt like his mind was being invaded, he brought his hands to his head and clutched it.
"Your name is Robin Hood." The boy stated blankly. "You are also known as Robert of Locksley or Fitzsooth." Robin felt like a cold knife was going through his mind as the boy continued.
"You saw your father killed, and your land was taken away. You live like a thief in Sherwood Forest." Robin clenched his head harder. "Please stop!" The boy grinned. "Am I hurting you?"
Robin gazed down at the boy, he looked pleased with himself. Robin slowly nodded affirmation. "Yes. please stop."
Just as quickly as it started the pain in Robin’s head stopped. "Sorry. Merlin is always telling me to try to control my powers. Sometimes I forget." He looked up at Robin with a mischievous grin. "You can call me Olwyn."
Even though he had suspected it, Robin was still surprised when he heard the child say his name, for he saw in the boy's eyes something that was never in his Olwyn's. He saw evil.
The boy walked around Robin, examining him closely. Robin, feeling a little uneasy, tried to stand up straighter. He rocked a little, still feeling the effects of the mind reading. The boy stopped circling Robin, and standing in front of him, gazed up at him.
"From what I was able to get from you, I saw you knew me as an adult." The boy rubbed his chin in the same familiar way that Olwyn did. "I also saw that you thought of me highly, a father figure, you might say." Looking into Robin's eyes he said in a threatening voice. "You will still think of me that way."
Robin had to laugh at that statement. Hearing this, coming from a fourteen-year-old boy, he really couldn't take him seriously. The boy just returned his laugh. He then whirled and shook his fist in the air. "Merlin, it's not fair!" Robin wondered what the boy meant.
"What do you think I mean?" the boy asked, turning back to face Robin.
Robin was starting to get angry with the boy. "If you don't mind, I'd like you to stay out of my head." The boy just clucked his tongue in disgust. "Is this the best Merlin could do?" Robin was getting impatient. "What are you talking about?"
"What am I talking about?" the boy mocked. "And you're suppose to change me?" The boy scoffed, then noticed Robin was beginning to get angry. He tried to explain. "You see Robin the Hood, Merlin's been getting a little impatient with me lately. He said I've been getting too cocky, and even though he knows I will be his most powerful sorcerer, he says I need humility. He says I need to grow up inside, as well as outside. Humph! As if I need that. Do you know what I'm talking about Robert of the Hood?"
Robin smiled. "I seem to remember someone teaching me that once. Oh, and by the way, the name is Robin Hood." The boy just waved his hand "Yeah, whatever. All I know is I don't need to be humble to perform magic. I'm going to be the best there is." The boy then started to strut around the cave.
Robin just stared at the boy. He couldn't believe the Olwyn he knew and respected came from this snotty, spoiled little brat.
"Brat!" Olwyn spat out. He whirled around and aimed his finger at Robin. A blue spark came from the tip, but nothing else. The boy stared at his finger in disgust, then moved closer to Robin, who drew his head back as Olwyn shoved the finger in his face.
"See! This is what I mean! I should have been able to blast you across the room. But sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't."
"Sometimes what works?" Robin asked. He was confused, and began to show genuine concern.
"My magic, you fool! That's why I'm here!"
Robin now realized what was wrong with the boy, this Olwyn was not a full wizard. He was an apprentice of Merlin, but something was wrong. His magic wasn't under control, if kept going haywire.
"Pretty good, Hood man. You guessed it right. I can't control my magic until I find this humility. Think you can help me find it before the end of the day? I'm really anxious to go home."
"Hmm." Robin wondered out loud, rubbing his chin with his thumb in thought. "Humility, huh? I really don't know where you can find that." Robin's right eyebrow went up as he continued. "Perhaps we can help you find your respect for elders, first." His dark eyes gave Olwyn a cold hard look.
"Oh, good one Man of the Hood."
Robin grimaced. "Why don't you just call me Robin." Olwyn gave Robin a half grin. "Yeah, whatever."
Robin rolled his eyes at Olwyn. "Well, to find this humility, I think we must first take you to my camp."
"Will I find it there?" the boy asked earnestly.
"Perhaps." Robin cryptically answered.
"Great! I can't wait to get back home. I have a spell I've been working on for the past month. Merlin said it won't work until I find that humility."
Nodding, Robin made his way back to the entrance of the cave. Olwyn followed close behind him, as they left the cave, it disappeared. Looking up into the sky, Olwyn sighed. "No moon. We have until the next new moon. That's when Merlin said he will take me back."
Robin turned and looked deep into the boy's eyes. Somewhere in there was his Olwyn. As he stared harder, the boy softly smiled then the child's eyes glazed over. As Robin continued to stare into the child's eyes, he saw something familiar appear, and the child's voice became more ancient it was his Olwyn's voice speaking.
"I am here Robin. Help me to become a man."
Robin shook his head. Glancing back at the boy, he could see the glazed look had disappeared, and the boy gave Robin a curious look. "Well, are you just going to stare at me or take me to your camp? I'm tired and hungry."
Shaking off the strange feeling that came over him, Robin sighed. "Let's go, then."
End of Chapter One