By Lisa Prusok
"I can’t!" she screamed.
"You will do it. I order it! Count Lanis yelled at the 5’2" woman. He had hired the woman as his personal sorceress. He thought that having his own sorceress would bring him prestige in the court circles. But after dealing with this woman, he was not sure it was worth it. She was head strong, constantly making mistakes and just too much of a pain in his...side.
"You can order all you want! If I can’t, I can’t!" she screamed again. Catrina could not believe that she had gotten herself into such a mess. Her first job and it was a disaster. Catrina had gotten a floor length black velvet cloak and some snazzy jewelry to wear so at least she would look the part. But that didn’t help the fact that she was in over her head. She knew it, but she thought she would be able to get around it.
"You are trying my patience woman. What good are you? I hired you to do a job. A job that I am paying for. I want you to go. When you come back in an hour, you will do it, or I’ll..." he stopped.
"Or you’ll what?" Catrina challenged.
"I’ll beat and whip you," the Count threatened her.
"You wouldn’t dare," she countered, trying to keep her voice rock steady.
"Just try me," he said sneering at her. "Guards, take her away to her work room. I want you to wait for an hour and bring her back here to me."
Cat wanted to try to talk him out of his threat, but she was taken away too quickly. Dragged down a level in the castle, Cat was thrown into her work room and the door slammed shut behind her.
Cat turned around and stuck her tongue out at the door. "Throw me around will you. Big bullies!" she taunted the closed door. "What am I supposed to do now?" she asked herself. Catrina began pacing. "How am I supposed to make him a pile of gold? It’s just not possible. You can’t get blood out of a stone and you can’t get gold out of a sorceress!" The pacing continued. "What to do, what to do. Think. Think. Think. Robin would know what to do. He always knows how to handle a situation." She stopped in mid pace. "I miss Robin!" she wailed.
The time passed more quickly than she would have liked. She only had a few more minutes before the guards would take her back.
During the hour she had thought more and more about Robin Hood. He was her favorite person in the whole world. She always felt so safe with him. He made her feel good about herself. Nothing that she did was too terrible for Robin.
The more Catrina thought about her wonderful Robin, the more she missed him. It had been a year since she had last seen him. One of her favorite moments with him was also one of her last.
"Ah Robin. You are wonderful. What a man, what a man," she said as she reveled in the kiss he gave her.
The day dream was a wonderful one. As she dreamt she began to glow. The glow was not only on the inside, but she physically began to glow.
The turn of the handle on the door startled her. As her memories faded, so did the glow. The guards entered the room and grabbed her by her arms. They picked her up and dragged her from the room.
As Catrina was taken before the Count, she began to sweat a little. Still
unable to perform the task he asked of her, she knew what she was in for.
The fear welled up inside of her. It was time to face the music.
The group of outlaws were seated around a large table. It was covered with various dishes of food. Laughter echoed in the compound as they all ate lunch. Robin Hood was at the head of the table. On his right was the love of his life, Marion. On his direct left was his best friend Little John. Also on his left, the wise Friar Tuck. Every seat was filled with a comrade, friend, or just someone in need. This was Robin’s "family".
Today was a good day for all. The hunting had been plentiful and Miranda was cooking. She was the best cook in camp. Every person was able to eat to their fill. This could not be said very often. For living the life of an outlaw was a hard life. But today it had its rewards.
Robin was really enjoying his meal. Not only had he been able to bring home two stags, but he had just robbed a fat Norman of two hundred gold coins.
"It’s not such a bad day," he thought to himself.
As this thought ended, a split second later his head was snapped hard to the right. With arms flailing, Robin toppled off of the stool he was sitting on. He landed hard on his back with a groan.
The whole table went silent as Robin hit the ground.
Marion was the first to speak, "Robin what happened?"
A concerned Little John got up and helped Robin to his feet.
Rubbing his jaw, "I have no idea. One second I’m sitting there, the..." he was stopped as his head was snapped hard to the left. The movement was so hard he was thrown off balance right into Little John.
Little John caught him in his arms.
"Robin! What is your problem?" Marion asked concerned.
That one dazed Robin a little. He brought his hands up to his head. Both of his cheeks stung. His head ached. "I don’t know what is happening. Maybe I’d better go to my hut."
"I think I had better go with you," Little John offered.
"Thank you John. I do feel a little unsteady for some reason."
The two men walked across the compound slowly. Little John was right at Robin’s side just in case. As they walked, John noticed that there was a huge red welt coming up on Robin’s right cheek.
"Robin, your face."
"What about it John?"
"It looks like there is a welt in the shape of a hand on it."
Robin stopped walking and placed his hand to his face. It felt hot and he could feel the skin was a little swollen. Both sides felt the same. "Huh, I wonder what’s causing it?" he asked, not expecting an answer.
Deep in thought, Robin and Little John started walking again.
As Robin was about to take another step, a searing flash of pain crossed Robin’s back. He arched his back and screamed in pain as he started to fall to his knees.
Little John caught him before he collapsed onto the ground. With fear in his voice, "Robin what is it!?"
The pain was in his voice, "I don’t know John. I..." he stopped as it struck again. Robin screamed again as a stripe of fire went across his shoulder blades. He moved his left arm up around to his back to try to protect it. Then the pain hit again. His face showed the agony he was in.
"Tuck! Marion! Come quickly!" John yelled.
As Marion and Tuck got up from the table they heard a scream of excruciating pain come from Robin. They broke into a run.
Robin was covered in a sheen of sweat. His breathing was labored. Then it struck again as Tuck and Marion arrived by his side.
Robin and Little John were down on their knees. John was holding tightly onto Robin as each pain struck him.
The pain only seemed to increase. Robin was nearing the thresh hold of unconsciousness. His back arched every time he felt the white hot stripes tear into his flesh. They came slowly at first. Now he was stricken again and again and again. The pain lashed out at him over and over and over until his body could not take any more.
Robin’s body went limp in Little John’s arms as he lost consciousness. Robin entered the thresh hold without regret. The blackness became a haven for Robin’s tortured mind, body and soul. He welcomed it.
"Robin?" Little John whispered to him. "Tuck, what’s wrong with Robin?" Little John asked as he looked up with pleading eyes.
"I don’t know my friend. I just don’t know. We need to get him to his hut."
Little John eased Robin’s body into the cradle of his arms. Robin’s head
fell limply over his arm as he picked him up. John carried Robin to his hut,
hugging the lifeless body to his chest.
Cat was thrown to the floor in front of Count Lanis. He now towered over her. Looking down at her, "Have you decided to do as I ordered?"
"You need to get the wax taken out of your ears. How many times do I have to tell you I can’t. I can’t means I can’t."
The Count motioned for the guards to pull her to her feet. He stared at her with contempt. Then with a quick move, he slapped her across her left cheek.
Catrina was stunned by the move, but was also stunned at the fact that it didn’t hurt. Her eyes went wide with disbelief.
Seeing no reaction from her, he slapped her right cheek harder.
Cat’s head was moved to the side, but still no pain.
Count Lanis was incensed by her defiance, "Take her over to the wall. Bare her back," he ordered.
Catrina couldn’t figure out what was happening. At this point she just hoped that it would continue. It would take her just a bit of time to get herself ready. When she was, she was outta there.
The Count got a very sturdy whip. He slowly walked up behind of Catrina. "Are you going to do what I want?"
"Boy! You really are dense aren’t you?" she said rolling her eyes.
"Hold her tightly men," he said as he snapped the tip of the whip on the floor.
The sound echoed in the large room. Then with a flourished movement, he aimed the whip at her back.
Cat felt her body move forward, but no pain. This was great! She closed her eyes and began to concentrate.
The whip cracked again and again on the white flesh of her back.
When he still got no reaction from her, he hit her harder and harder, faster and faster.
When Cat was finally ready, "Count, it’s been just a real day in the sunshine,
but I quit." At her final word, she was engulfed in a halo of light and disappeared.
"Put him on the bed Little John," Tuck ordered.
Little John cautiously set Robin down on the bed. He made no movement or sound.
"We need to get his tunic off of him," Tuck told John.
"What do you think it is Tuck?" Marion asked.
"I don’t know. I think that magic has something to do with it, but I have to see his back first."
Little John unlaced Robin’s belt and set it aside. Then he unlaced his tunic. Once the lace was free he pulled the material from Robin’s shoulders. As he pulled the tunic from Robin’s back he gasped at the sight.
"Lay him on his stomach Little John. I have to see what happened," Tuck said.
John lay Robin down on his side. Then he eased Robin’s still body over on to his stomach.
Marion and Tuck also gasped when they saw Robin’s back.
It was covered in bloody welts. The welts were long streaks that covered most of Robin’s upper back and shoulders. Blood still oozed from the deeper lacerations.
"Oh dear God! Look at him! His back is torn to shreds!" Marion cried out.
Tuck said a prayer for his friend and crossed himself. "Marion, I need you to go to my hut and get my medicine bag. Hurry! While she does that, we need to start to clean these wounds," he told John.
When John did not move he looked up at him. Little John’s face was wet with tears. He just kept looking down at the helpless figure on the bed.
Tuck went over and touched John’s arm, "We need to help Robin. I know that it hurts to see him like this, but we have to stay strong for him."
"Tuck!" John screamed out.
"What is it John?"
"Look!" he said pointing to Robin’s body.
Tuck looked down at the injured man on the bed. He crossed himself at what he saw. All of the wounds were healing! Right before his eyes they were closing up and becoming smooth unblemished skin as before. All that was left was the now drying blood.
Tuck bent down and smoothed his hand over Robin’s back. Taking a wet cloth, he cleaned the blood from Robin’s warm skin. There wasn’t a mark left!
End of Chapter One
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