The Purple Rose

By Verenize Bernal Curiel

CHAPTER V "Life for Life"

Little John arrived with the precious item entrusted to him the following day. From that moment, Tuck had not been hesitant in using the murderous liquid. No matter how much Robin attempted to hide his sickness from everyone, his pale face, the dark ring under his eyes and his continuous fainting only showed the poison’s effect was beginning to rob him of his strength from his body. Tuck’s tea had stopped controlling the fever, which intensified in the nights. Marion’s desperation was visible.

"What happens, Tuck? Why doesn't it work?" She asked him. "I can only make what I can Marion, but I don't have the necessary instruments I fear that this is a lost cause." He responded lamenting him.

"Who has the instruments that you need it Tuck?" Little John asked.

"Only an alchemist."

"The Sheriff has his own medical alchemist." Marion said pensive.

"That is true, but with Prince John’s presence in the castle would make it impossible to enter there" John worried.

They stayed together, thinking of any strategy, although nothing feasible came to their minds. That night no one slept, Frederick didn’t leave Robin’s bedside, he seemed to have difficulties to breathe. He trembled and could hardly stay awake.

The few minutes that Marion was sleeping, she could hear the same phrase "Your enemy will be your greater ally, to unite with him; will be the solution". She woke up alarmed.

In the dawn, the arrival from a horseman was heard. It was Emma, the maid from Nottingham Castle; she was Robin Hood’s friend. She brought news that could change the direction of the circumstances.

"What are you doing here?" Little John was the first to greet her, helping her off the horse.

"Something bad is happening at Nottingham Castle, somebody wanted to poison to Prince John." The woman responded.

"How is that?" Tuck asked her.

"Days ago he began to feel sickly, just after Robin ambushed them. He has not gotten up and he suffers a strange fever." Marion and Tuck gave each other surprised looks.

"Have you seen him Emma? Have seen to the Prince?" Marion asked hurried.

"Yes Marion, this morning I was going to clean his room and the doctor was with him. The man seemed afraid for condition of the injury on Prince’s arm. I listened to what he said there was no remedy for that."

"Come with me Emma" Tuck told her, as he pulled the girl to Robin’s hut "Bring Frederick quickly!!" He ordered to John.

Emma saw Robin and she was surprised. He looked as bad as Prince John. But how was it possible? She asked. Frederick thought a moment. Yes, it was possible. Between confusion and Sheriff’s intervention, the Prince also had resulted in being wounded, after everything; he was in front of Robin. Yes, it was possible.

"Then surely, they are searching for an antidote too." Marion’s eyes twinkled" They have something that we needed and we have something that they need, although they don't know it. I know Guy, he will be interested in a business deal with me." The words in Marion’s dream seemed to make sense now. One alliance with their enemies would be the solution.

"You can’t take the risk Marion" Robin hardly whispered "You can not trust Guy."

"Sshh ..." Marion put her finger in his lips "Trust me, I know the decision I have to make.".

"I will go with you Marion" John offered.

"Not this time Little John. I don't want Guy to feel threatened."

"But... Marion." Robin insisted weakly, "I won't permit only you to take a risk for...

"You have to learn to trust me please. You know Guy won't hurt me" She said this with the knowledge of rationale and it caused certain pain to Robin "I will be back in the afternoon." She kissed wounded man’s lips left.

The table of the Nottingham castle was served, but the Sheriff had not eaten a mouthful; Sir Guy of Gisborn accompanied him. Both were deep in thought of the disaster that Prince Johns death would provoke, the prestige of the Sheriff, it would be gone to the ground. With the knowledge that in his territory the Prince had been poisoned, he would be the first suspected and this uncertainty burdened him. A pair of soldiers interrupted their thoughts.

"I have told you never to bother me in lunch" the Sheriff repremended them. Guy did not even look up at them, he stayed sunk in his reflections.

"We know my Lord, but I believe that you would be very interested in this" the soldier argued." It is Lady Marion Fitzwalter, my Lord."

Guy jumped up inopportunely and ordered them to let her pass.

"Calm down your sick desires Gisborn, that woman is very far out of your reach" the Sheriff told him sarcasticaly. Guy made a grimace.

"Good morning my Lord Sheriff, Sir Guy." Marion greeted them making a reverence. "I am sorry to interrupt your lunch."

"Well... well, what is this unexpected visit?" Sheriff sat comfortably in his seat." What brings here the jewel, more prized than the outlaw most wanted in England... or is chance that because of his fear, he hides under your skirts my Lady?"

"No my Lord, In reality I come to make you an offer. Robin didn't come because he is very busy distributing provisions to the poor people." Marion knew that would cause a stomachache to Sheriff, she was assuring him that Robin continued intercepting their carriages. Guy smiled for the woman’s ability.

"I don't believe that you have something that I need."

"You are mistaken my Lord. We know that the good Prince John has been sick from stranger" the Sheriff turned pale. Marion continued. "He has been suffering, there is a very common remedy, of which you lack."

"How do you know everything that Marion?" Guy asked.

"My dear Guy" Marion responded approaching to the man and provoking his nerves" When will you learn that in Sherwood, everything is known?" Then she turned again to the Sheriff "I believe that you would be interested to know that our knowledgeable friar Tuck knows the antidote in order to save your Highness."

"In exchange for provisions..." Guy asked innocent. Marion smiled again.

"No Sir Guy, we are already supplied, thank you." Again the Sheriff’s stomach hurt. "It is in reality something more delicate than..."

"Wait a moment" the Sheriff interrupted getting up to from the seat "What is it that you contrive of this time? How come so much concern for Prince Johns life, when you have risked your own to make what has happened possible?" He lifted both hands so that anyone or two speak everything seemed to say something important. Marion knew that would pass, however, she waited for the Sheriff to discover it."I have Marion Fitzwalter in my castle, on the other hand the bastard Locksley..."

"Robin Hood is a coward" Guy murmured anger.

"Be quiet Gisborn...as to your grief I have to recognize Locksley has enough courage to come face me without the necessity of sending his maiden... unless... unless."

"Robert’s life is also in danger, is this not so Marion?" Guy interrupted the Sheriff, provoking his fury.

"Gisbornnnnnnnn!!!. When are you going to learn to keep your mouth shut!!!" The Sheriff shouted at him." Is it that truth? Was Locksley also hurt?"

Marion didn't respond and her silence confirmed what he asked." And I thought that bastard had been responsible... Hmm... Hmm. So, I will finally be rid of Robin Hood, as you tell it... he will be dead from his own poison. He’ll rot in hell!!" Sheriff shouted inflamed.

"I believe you have lost your view of some small details my Lord. And you are getting far to emotional." Marion was calm, she knew that the best of her plan to be borne out." I have to admit Robin was also infected with the knifes poison, the same that hurt our good Prince John, and clearly, you feel satisfied because finally you will be able to quit concentrating so much gold and time in his persecution. Yes my Lord" Marion’s tone was severe" Sherwood, Nottingham, England, will lose a great outlaw, it is a pain, it is true... but not only that, at the same time we will lose a noble Prince, in the absence of the England King... God!! The chaos will be enormous... England will be left without direction, to the grace of whoever wants to take it, it will be revealed who was responsible of all this disturbance, they will mark, and lynch the noblemen not mattering if they are Saxons or Normands... Price? One outlaw and... An almost king."

"Enough!!" The Sheriff shouted infuriated covering his ears with his hands. All that was said by Marion was true, just that fact was going in his mind before she appeared, and he didn't know how he was going to detain it" Silence at once...this is enough..."

"What is your proposition Marion? Why, if you have the antidote... haven’t you saved Robert?" Guy inquired.

"Friar Tuck knows how to prepare the antidote and how give it, but we needed the instruments of an alchemist, without them he could not prepare enough dosage. That is the motive for my visit Sheriff. We are willing to save the life of Prince John, in exchange for saving Robins life."

"If I accept, how do I know that you will return to save to the Prince?"

"There is not much time left for debating my Lord, to tell the truth, Robin and the Prince is in a race against time that is why my offer is the following: you will carry Prince John to Sir Guy’s castle."

"Why my castle?" Guy interrupted.

"Be quiet Gisborn!!! We will carry Robin."

Marion continued "There will be no soldiers, only a small escort that carries the Prince and the medical alchemist with all his instruments. Sir Guy and his servants will take care of Prince John. Tuck will be there to prepare the antidote and give them out…finally. Once the work is done, you will allow us to return Sherwood without the any problems. Life for life, Sheriff, this is the deal exactly."

"How can you guarantee me that Prince John will be safe and healthful?" Sheriff asked her.

"Not even I could guarantee Robin’s life my Lord, and less if we permit that the time keeps passing by. We don't have options any options, and neither do you. It has to be this afternoon. And Sheriff, you will not be there. That knife had a name and it was yours, Lady Sophia Reilly even hurts some people."

"It will be this afternoon" The man with the darkened face concluded, he knew that if the poison arrived at the intended target, nobody would be worried about saving him. The new challenge was to inform the Prince, the one that he pretended make. The reactions were waited for. Prince John was irritable upon informing that only sharing with the outlaw of Sherwood could he save his life. The Sheriff of Nottingham was careful in not saying whom the poison was directed to. The argument was that in the holdup in error, Robin Hood resulted wounded from his own men.

"If it is so, he should die... the beggar." Prince John had said with madness, but upon informing that he also didn’t have any possibilities without the aid of the men of Sherwood, he knew he had to accept the deal. "If they succeed in making me feel better, Gisborn - you will finish the job taking their lives in your own castle, beginning with the woman" The Prince demanded of Guy, who upon thinking about it, turned pale.

Marion returned with the good news to the camp. She explained the plan and the agreement with the Sheriff. Little John and Tuck were concerned because they knew that they could not trust the men of the Sheriff, beginning with Sir Guy, but it was a risk that they had to take. Even Robin distrusted them more, he knew that in Gisborns territory, he could attempt to collect his personal title with Marion, but it was the only option.

Robin attempted to stand up and walk but a pain in his body invaded him and he lost conscience, Little John sustained and carried him to the carriage.

"This is better" Tuck said revising the state of the young outlaw "So he won't feel any annoyances on the road."

"I hope this will work" Frederick added worried.

"It will work... it will work." John asserted.

Then they undertook the journey to the Gisborn Castle.

End of Chapter Five

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