The Purple Rose

By Verenize Bernal Curiel

CHAPTER IV "The Black Death"

In the Sheriff of Nottingham’s castle there was too much calm. Prince John had slept all day and he had not wanted to get up. He was tired and wasn’t hungry.

"But my Lord" Barkley begged "You have not eaten a mouthful all day."

"There is a bad cook in this castle. I also believe that because my stomach is so upset I have caught a cold, I am tired and have a headache" Prince John responded without appetite. The doctor had examined him and had found a little fever, but nothing to look after. "Leave me alone and let me rest..." He said moving his hand, ordering that all leave.

In Guy of Gisborn’s castle, he was informed of a new holdup of Sherwood outlaws.

"We had another provisions holdup in Sherwood" A soldier informed to Sir Guy." It was one substantial load but Robin Hood..."

"...He robbed them..." Guy concluded "I will inform the Sheriff, now move back" Already the Sheriff had enough with what occurred with Prince John. It was also enough that Guy felt satisfied for the indirect vengeance that the Sheriff was receiving, but given the circumstances, he could not assign more soldiers to guard the provisions while Prince John was staying in Nottingham. "Won't displease the Sheriff to much with a little, additional complications". Guy thought with a bent smile.

The cold night arrived to Sherwood. Tuck was seated in silence with Little John beside the blaze; both looking at the fire and letting the cold wind of the night burn their cheeks. Frederick was remote in the darkness, embarrassed and trying to find an exit to the incident.

"We should find a remedy Tuck" John said heart-stricken" You know many things, you have to find an antidote.

Marion joined the group wrapped up in her coat and with her face full of concern.

"How is Robin?" Tuck asked immediately as she approached.

"Sleeping and calm, in reality it seems that he is the best" She answer confused."Somebody want to explain me, what does this mean? I know nothing about this poison."

"It is a potion strange Marion" Tuck explained."It is an extract of a beautiful and small flower, but its effect is terrible."

"When I was a kid" John remembered" My father taught us the art of raking and I remember that we once found the Purple Rose. He warned us not to touch it, because just the touch could poison us. It was many years ago; I don't remember where it was."

Well, it is not that simple John" Tuck clarified John "It is a complicated process to extract the poison that it emanates. But it is so powerful that it finishes little by little with the person’s strength until it withers completely.

"Come on Tuck" Marion replied "All poison has an antidote. There should be something, shouldn’t there?

Nobody responded to Marion’s question, the silence despaired to her a lot, so she stopped opposite all and shouted:

"What happened to you? Don’t you plan to make something to help to Robin?

"It is not that Marion. It is only nobody knows an antidote for this" John responded to her in a low voice.

"What do you talk about? Tuck... answer me, is that true? Is Robin condemned to die?

Again nobody responded to her. Tuck stared at the sparkling fire, he felt heat in his cheeks, he didn't know if it was the cold, or the fire, or of the fear that this represented to him. Marion sat down in a log, bowed and covered her face with her hands.

"There does exist one alternative" Tuck said with trembling voice "There is a form..."

"Surely you aren’t thinking of the one exit friar?," Frederick interrupted Tuck, leaving from the shades. "That means sure and instantaneous death" He shouted.

"It is an alternative, the only one..." Tuck commented with fear and his view taking notice to the fire.

"What do they both speak of?" Marion asked John.

"Nothing..." Frederick cut resolute "The alternative in the one which Tuck thinks, but it not even proven... nobody has survived to it."

"If we don’t attempted something, his death is sure Sir Frederick, and thanks to you" Tuck lifted the voice standing up "I won't keep with crossed arms looking at how Robin wastes away."

"But it is suicide Friar" Frederick snatched.

"Who should decide to run the risk maybe I am" Robin’s voice came from between the darkness. He had listened to the discussion and nobody there had been aware of his presence. Sir Frederick bent over his head and broke down to cry like a child.

"I wanted to see the Sheriff suffer slowly the same as I did, but not you Robin, not you." Robin approached him and obliged Frederick to look at him to the face. "Don’t worry. I know that it was an accident. Now the important thing is to act, if there is a remedy to this. What was "that" that you propose, Friar?"

"It is said, that the same poison kills the poison."

"God!! Explain Tuck" Marion implored.

"A superior dose of poison, It would be needed for the effect to be annulled. But I have not had any luck in seeing anybody resist the second dose of poison, Robin. However, medical friends have told me that it in some cases it does work."

"It is suicide, Robin" Frederick cried. "Also I don’t have a drop more than the liquid and it is scarce and strange for its complexity of preparation."

"That is a problem, where can we get enough quantity?" Friar cleaned his face with the hands. All waited a moment in silence. Little John closed his eyes and had a vision, it was so strange, but yes, he had remembered the exact site in where the roses are.

"I remember the site where they grow" John said. All looked at him with expectation." They are a day and half from Sherwood. If Tuck tells me how gather them, I will bring them. Tomorrow in the morning I will leave bring them Robin."

"In the same time Tuck and I will get what is necessary to extract the poison" Marion told Robin, as she embraced his back." All will be right you will see it."

"I know Marion I know it. Something more Tuck, how long do I have before falling in bed?" It was difficult for Robin to make that question, but it was necessary to assure the camp.

"Maybe... 2 or 3 days." Tuck answered with broken voice. Robin agreed with this and went to his cabin, Marion followed him, but Robin detained her, he gave her a kiss on her cheek and removed her of him. She knew he only wanted to be alone.

"Do we look for Olwyn?" John suggested.

"That magician!! He never is near when Robin really needs him." Marion evinced skeptical.

The night lapsed slowly.

It had not yet dawned, when the Friar discharged Little John at the entrance of the camp with all indications to pick up the valuable flowers. Tuck was concerned, he knew that it required more than his ability with the grasses to extract the mortal juice that he now needed. He lamented to have not learned to prepare royal poisons before.

The morning lapsed with calm. Robin got up feeling more than a little pain in his body, like when he was cold. That morning he was devoted to allotting provisions between the village’s people. He became worried when he was aware that the food wasn’t enough for all. And as always, he and his intimate friends were sacrificed giving it to any family that was in need of it. Even with that, there were many limitations.

Marion and Tuck saddled their horses and left in search of any instrument that the friar could utilize for his goals. It was not easy; not many people in the other villages were devoted to the chemistry or to the medicine, that was the reason they came to him.

In Nottingham castle the rumor was on that Prince John had contracted an illness that detained him in bed.

The evening entered, cold intensified in the forest. Robin felt feverish and his body seemed to hurt more. But he didn't stop until he had delivered all the provisions. Marion and Tuck would not return until the following day, but the friar had left precise instructions to give to Robin the tea for his fever that he prepared. The young archer had lost his appetite but he followed the recommendations of his friend.

"Robin" Adam shouted him from a long distance" Comes a shipment with provisions, it will be crossing to the east of Sherwood beginning in the morning."

"Good work!! Saddle my horse, we will leave tonight, we should prepare the site." He ordered.

"Robin" Frederick whispered in his ear "Tuck said that you should not leave the camp."

"I will be all right, we need that shipment. We will return before dusk." Saying this he mounted his horse and he parted with Adam and two more men.

It was hardly dawning when carriages were heard to come. The outlaws were in their positions of attack. Only 12 men were present, it would not be difficult. Robin left to encounter and he fought, but his sword weighed more than the normal. He rode his horse and the battle began when his companions took the loot. A success, more thanks to Robin, they thought. The archer galloped uninterrupted until he lost his view of the men. He could not continue, his legs were numb and his vision was clouded. He almost fell from the horse, but he stayed there losing the notion of time.

Marion and Tuck returned without much luck to the camp. The friar was not sure if he could make the antidote, with the instruments he had found. There was gladness between the people. They were happy of having complete provisions.

"Where is Robin?" Marion asked anxious.

"He has not returned" Adam responded." He separated from the group during the ambush, as always and he said he would see us here at dusk. But he has not returned since yesterday."

"For heaven sake, why does he do that?" Marion Suffer "He spent the night in the Forest and the night is falling, we have to find him." She rode again "And Little John, has he returned?

"Neither one," Frederick responded "I will go with you to look for Robin."

"Okay, Tuck, you wait for John."

An hour later both horsemen saw a figure on the distance. Marion hurried she could see Robin almost hanging off the horse. She grabbed the horse, and quickly mounted with Robin. She held him closely to her, warming him with her body.

"Relax," She told him "I will carry you home."

End of Chapter Four

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