It had been a great morning for Robin. He got to spend some intimate time with his beloved Marion and his friend Cat was in camp. During the morning, he introduced Cat around the camp. Noon rolled around and it was lunch time. The Outlaws had a nice meal together with lively banter at the table. Now that his obligation of good host was finished, he caught Catrina’s attention and motioned her to come to him.
Marion saw this and the protector in her came out. She casually walked up to Robin, "What are you up to?"
"I was just going to take a walk with Cat."
"Do you mind if I come along?" she asked in the most subtle way she could.
At that point Cat came up to them, "What did you want Robin?"
Robin looked from Marion to Cat, "I wanted to talk to you."
"Well..." Robin started as he looked at Marion. "I’d like us to take a walk so we can talk, alone," he finished steadying himself for Marion’s reaction.
"Sure, let’s go," Cat said as she started walking away.
"Cat why don’t you go to the bridge and wait for me. I’ll be right over."
Robin looked at Marion again and saw she had her arms crossed in front of her.
"I’m waiting," Marion said as her foot began to tap.
"I want to talk to her alone. I need to find out why she is here."
"And you can’t do that with me there?"
"I’d rather talk to her alone Marion. We will be fine."
"It’s not the we I’m worried about. It’s the you."
"I will be fine. If it will make you feel better, I’ll take my sword, " he tried to reassure her.
"That is not the kind of danger I’m talking about."
Robin understood now, "Marion, she has not hurt me yet and she’s been here all morning. What’s passed is past. She is a different person now. Even when I left her so many months ago, she had changed then."
Marion considered his words, "Well okay, but take your sword anyway."
Robin smiled. He leaned in and kissed her lightly.
"You be careful," Marion ordered him.
Giving her a wink, "Yes ma’am," he said as he left her.
Robin got his sword and met Cat by the bridge.
"What’s with the sword?" Cat asked.
"Oh this. It was Marion’s idea. She is little over protective at times." Sweeping his arm forward, "Let’s walk."
The two crossed the bridge. Robin looked out over the land and smiled to himself. He loved this country, his home, England.
"So Robin, what did you want to talk about?"
"Well, I’m glad you came, but is the only reason to visit me?"
"Gee Robin, why would you ask such a question?" she said trying to evade it.
"That’s not an answer. Talk to me."
Cat looked into Robin’s eyes. She just couldn’t refuse those eyes. Those dreamy, chestnut brown, huge eyes. "I..." she stopped.
"You can tell me anything." Robin urged her.
Cat looked down at the forest floor as they walked, "Do you remember the day you left and what you told me?"
"Yes. I told you to keep up the practice and not to lose confidence in yourself," he said remembering every word as if it were a moment ago.
Surprised at his memory, "Yes and I have failed you."
"Failed me? That’s nonsense," he told her as they stopped. "How could you have failed me?"
"I have been having trouble with my incantations. I can’t seem to get any of them right. It has been going on for a while now," she admitted to him.
"Why didn’t you come to me sooner?" Robin asked concerned.
"Tell me Cat. Nothing you can tell me is too bad."
Looking into his eyes again she said, "I did exactly what you told me not to do. I lost my confidence. I was too ashamed of myself to come to you or Olwyn especially," she finished as tears began to roll down her cheeks.
Robin pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her shaking shoulders. "It’s okay, it’s okay," he soothed her. "I wish you had come to me sooner. We can work this out with no problem."
Cat calmed down a little. The feeling of his strong arms encasing her body could make anything all right. "I just can’t seem to find the cathexis."
"The cath-whats-its?" Robin asked as he held her body out from him to look at her face.
"The cathexis. It’s the charge of psychic energy I invest to make my magic work. I can’t seem to build up enough energy inside me to do anything."
With a ‘tsk’ Robin said with confidence, "No problem! We can fix that."
Feeling a ray of hope, Cat perked up, "Really?"
"Sure. It won’t take much to get you back on the right track."
"Oh Robin you’re wonderful!" she said as she threw her arms around him tightly in a big bear hug.
Robin returned the hug and patted her back lightly, "That seems to be the consensus today."
Releasing him, "How do we start?"
Robin motioned for her to sit down, "The first thing is you need to stare at the sky, contemplate your navel or something. Begin to focus your mind. Breath deeply. Close your eyes and create a small space inside yourself. Imagine a small orb in that space. As you collect the energy, let the orb grow. Let it fill up with pure energy."
"Can I try?"
"Sure. You see those rocks," pointing to three large rocks on the ground beside him. "Try to lift them."
Robin watched as she began to focus. As perspiration broke out on her brow, he could see her face and shoulder muscles tense up.
"Relax. Relax your muscles. Don’t try to force it. Tenseness hinders the flow. Let the energies pass freely, serve as a passive conductor."
Relaxing, Cat found the flow was noticeably more intense now. Concentrating, she was rewarded by a sudden surge of energy. Growing heady with power, she pursued it. Floating in her mind, she realized how her abilities dwarfed those around her. Whether she lifted the rocks or not was inconsequential. She was all powerful.
Almost contemptuously she reached out with her mind and touched them. They began to rise several inches from the ground as if in answer to her will.
Startled, she sat up and blinked at them. As she did, the rocks fell to the ground. One directly on Robin’s foot. Realizing too late, she had broken concentration.
Trying not to disturb her, Robin hopped on one foot while holding the other in complete silence.
"I’m so sorry Robin," she said feeling totally deflated.
Putting his foot down, he limped over to where she was sitting. "Don’t you get tired of saying that?"
Cat couldn’t answer as she tried to hold back the tears.
Robin saw her bottom lip begin to quiver. Sitting down next to her, "It’s okay. I’m okay. I don’t think anything is broken, just bruised."
"I’m just no good at this. You must be so ashamed of me. All your work, for nothing. All your pain, for nothing!"
"Hey, hey none of that talk. I’m not ashamed of you and could never be. Answer me a question."
"If I can."
"The space inside you, is there anything there?"
Cat closed her eyes and felt inside herself, "No."
"I want you to fill it up with energy. Habitually keep that reserve squirreled away. Keep this in your mind always. Release it as you need it. Always keep some back. When you’re not using it, replenish it. Always keep that inside of you," he stressed.
"Even when I’m sleeping?"
"Yes even then. It will take some practice. I know you can do it."
Cat pulled out a blade of grass and played with it, "I wanted to make you so proud of me."
"You have and you will continue to." Robin looked at the sky, "It’s getting late. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry."
Smiling, "Me too. Where are we anyway?"
"I guess we walked farther than I had planned. Beyond those trees is Lord Malum’s land. He is a Norman who is a bit of an outcast in Prince John’s court," he paused looking at the horizon. "We need to get back to camp."
The two started walking back when Robin heard the sound of horses. "This can’t be good," he thought to himself.
"Cat the camp is about two miles to the east. I want you to run as fast as you can. Tell them where I am. I’ll try to hold them here so you can get away."
"No Robin. I don’t want to leave you."
"Don’t argue with me. You must. I need you to tell the others that it is Lord Malum’s men. Please..."
Still not wanting to go, she saw the urgency in his eyes, "All right. I’m going!"
Robin watched as Catrina turned and ran. "To the east Cat, to the
east!" he yelled rolling his eyes. "May God be with me," he said pulling
his sword from its sheath.
The sound of the horses neared. Robin held his sword out in front of him as he took a fighting stance.
There were eight mounted guards that came riding up swiftly to encircle him. Robin could see a dark looking man on horse back cantering up leisurely to the group.
"You are Robin Hood?" the dark man asked.
"And if I am?" he said standing his ground.
"You can forget the acting. I know who you are. One of my men spotted you and a girl here. She is of no consequence, but you on the other hand are worth my getting back into good favor with the Prince."
Robin retorted, "Not an actor, I’m an archer."
"Good of you to admit it. Then would you mind coming with me and my men?"
"Actually Lord Malum, I would. I have so many things that need to get done today. You know, rob the rich, give to the poor, save a village here and there. An outlaw’s job is never done," he said with a mischievous grin.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but your day has just been altered."
"Oh really. We’ll just have to see about that."
"I must warn you Robin Hood, I usually get my way," Lord Malum told him evenly.
"Well, we can’t have you spoiled, can we?"
"Enough of this! Take him!" Lord Malum ordered.
The eight soldiers slid from the back of the horses. It was now a game of ‘ring around the Robin’ as the men advanced.
To himself, Robin said, "Eight...I’ve had better odds. Focus, strength, and a little luck."
The fight was on. The first guard swung his sword at Robin. Metal clashed. Robin deftly out maneuvered the man and ran him through. As Robin pulled out his sword from the dead man, another gave him a left hook to his chin. Blood spew from his lip as it split open and his head snapped back.
Shaking his head. Tasting his own blood. Robin’s eyes flashed with anger. Spinning on his left foot, Robin raised his right leg to strike the guard. The lightning quick blow sent the man flying four feet back. He landed hard. Not to move again.
Another man was on Robin a split second later. Blades flashed in the sun as the light glinted off of the polished metal. With a fast slash to the man’s stomach, Robin felled another one.
Breath was a luxury now to Robin as he fought the other five guards. Trying his very best to keep track of the five, Robin engaged two more. He used his sword and his body as a weapon. His fist flew to backhand one man while his sword ran another through. His endurance was slowly failing him. As tired as he was, he kept struggling.
Robin’s attention was drawn in exchanging sword jabs with two more men. What he did not see was that the man he had backhanded had recovered. With a nod to his comrades, the man came up behind Robin. Robin spun around as he heard a twig snap behind him. As he turned, blinding pain exploded on his right temple. The blackness pulled him down so quickly he hit the ground without a sound. His body settled and lay still. Blood flowed profusely from a deep gash on his right temple.
Lord Malum watched the combat with a bit of disbelief. He hadn’t believed the stories about Robin Hood. But after what he had just witnessed, he realized that they were all understated.
As Robin’s body fell to the forest floor, Lord Malum dismounted.
The group of surviving men were standing in a circle around Robin’s lifeless body that was sprawled on the ground. All were gasping for air from the exertion.
Lord Malum walked up to join them. He looked down at the unconscious man who had almost wiped out his patrol. As he looked up to each face in the circle, "YOU PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR MEN!" he screamed. "How could you let one man, one man, nearly wipe you all out!" He paused and stared at each man with contempt. With a wave of his hand, "Two of you bring Robin Hood to the castle. The rest of you bury those men."
Lord Malum stomped back to his horse, mounted and rode to his castle.
Once the Lord had ridden off, "I don’t know about you fellows, but I’m surprised any of us survived," one man said.
"I agree with you Nigel. He was one tough scrapper."
The Lieutenant interrupted his men, "All right, that’s enough. Nigel and Clive, you take this outlaw to the castle. The rest of us will take the burial detail."
Nigel stooped down at Robin’s head and lifted his head and shoulders from the ground. He slipped his arms around Robin’s chest and linked his fingers together. Clive lifted Robin up at his knees. The two men carried the unconscious warrior to the horses. By pushing and pulling, they positioned Robin’s body across the horse’s withers. They mounted and rode in silence to the castle.
When the men reached the castle, Lord Malum was waiting for them. "Take him to the dungeon and chain him to the wall."
The men pulled Robin from the horse and did their masters bidding.
End of Chapter Two
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