"What IS that stuff?" Marion asked in disgust as she glanced over Friar Tuck’s shoulder at the great big glob of goop he was rolling around in his thick palms.
"A great new invention of mine called putty," Tuck replied. He stretched his hand out, revealing the flesh-colored goop to Marion and the other warriors who gathered in curiosity.
Little John snatched the glob out of Tuck’s hand.
"Wow! This stuff is great!" he exclaimed as he stretched and molded the goop into various shapes, Marion shuttered.
"Oh honestly, Little John," she said. "Gods only know what is in that stuff!"
Tuck rolled his eyes at the beautiful lady warrior. "Oh come now, Marion, it has several ingredients but nothing poisonous. It’s fun to play with and it makes a great gift to the children in camp! I have already given out my first batch."
"It won’t hurt them will it?" Robin Hood asked as he craned to look over Marion’s pretty brown hair at what silly shapes Little John was shaping the goop into.
"Not at all."
Little John giggled as he reached over and squeezed the putty onto Robin’s face. He had made a long nose that consistently threw the balance of Robin’s handsome features off. But he looked silly in the putty nose and Marion laughed at the hero. Robin gave a wry smile to his colleagues and they dissolved into giggles.
Naturally, there was a time and place for jokes. Most of the time Robin Hood, Marion, and the other outlaws were serious when it came to fighting evil. The loathsome Prince John brought tyranny to the land and it was up to the greatest hero o them all, Robin Hood, along with his warriors Marion, Little John, and Friar Tuck to bring an end to the evil itself. Occasionally, on what Marion called "slow days", the outlaws got a break and could take some time for activities that included weapon training, meditation, and reading.
Jokes, like the Friar’s silly putty idea, fell in place too.
This was another one of Marion’s "slow days". The camp where the warriors lived was quiet, and the forest peaceful- for the moment. There was always the threat of new violence. But normally when "slow days" occurred the warriors got away with an all-day break.
However, this day would be different.
Robin had just challenged a queasy Marion to a hilarious molding contest when a sharp and loud scream came from the forest outside the camp’s hidden entrance. Like a cat, Robin’s reflexes kicked in immediately and he was off to investigate. Peering between the leaves of the thick bushes that partially concealed the camp entrance, Robin saw what looked to be a castle soldier trying to violate a beautiful young girl. This was definitely a job for the crew.
"Marion, John, Tuck!" Robin called. "Get the horses!"
Quick as lightning the warriors were next to Robin, already saddled up and with a great brown steed in tow. Robin hopped onto his horse and signaled the camp entrance to be opened.
Sensing what was about to happen, Little John yelled out "But Robin! What if he sees that this is the entrance to our camp?"
Robin harnessed his horse and turned to the right slightly. "Must take a chance, Little John."
The camp entrance was opened and Robin and his warriors were off. When the soldier saw the group coming, he grabbed the beautiful girl, who didn’t look to be over 13, and jumped on his own horse. He sped off leaving the warriors in the dust.
Robin hesitated slightly. But then the answer came to him. "Marion," he hollered, "follow that soldier! The rest of us will warn all the surrounding villages about the him."
Marion thought it sounded funny, Robin asking her to go off by herself, but she seldom disobeyed orders when it came to an emergency. She yanked on the reigns of her horse and took off after the soldier.
Marion followed the soldier at top speed for what seemed like forever. But he always seemed to stay ahead of her no matter how hard she urged her horse on. Finally the chase ended in a sunny, wooded clearing close to a small village that Marion had never seen before. The soldier brought his horse to a rapid stop and grabbed the girl, heading inside a small trailer, which was partly sunk in the soft earth. A winded Marion almost collapsed right off her horse when she finally reached the clearing. Drawing her sword and summoning the last of her strength, she marched right up to the trailer door and threw it open, expecting to find the soldier and the girl. But the couple was nowhere to be seen.
Cautious but curious, Marion proceeded into the trailer which was dimly lit by sticky candles. Silks the shade of blue and gold were hung everywhere in the one-room trailer. A rickety shelf, located next to the trailer door, held oddities unlike Marion had ever seen like the skull of a beast and vials of red, purple, black, and orange powder. Marion’s eyes scanned the room and finally came to rest in the middle of the room where a small table was set on. On this table was a cloth of pure blue silk, a small leather-bound book, and a large crystal ball that took Marion’s breath away; for a moment she forgot all about her search for the soldier and the girl. She reached to touch the crystal, which glowed with a seductive, evil light.
"Well, my pretty," growled a voice out of nowhere. Marion pulled her hand away from the crystal, the spell broken. Whoever the voice belonged to wasn’t in the room obviously but Marion’s eyes darted around looking for the source. A beam of light formed above the crystal ball and a beautiful woman stepped from within. There was little room in the trailer for more than two people so when she appeared she was almost touching nose to nose with Marion. The lady warrior was taken aback that she wanted to flee but something unexplainable kept her there.
The woman who appeared was obviously a fortuneteller or a sorceress; she was dressed in silks and gold with feathers and rubies at her neck. But she was unlike any fortuneteller that Marion had heard about. Most fortunetellers were old and ugly crones. However, this magical lady was quite young with lively auburn curls and rich green eyes. Gold and jewels hung from an elaborate headpiece she was wearing and when she moved to sit down at the table, they jingled so loudly Marion wondered how the lady could stand wearing them.
The woman sat down at the table opposite Marion and motioned for her to sit as well. Marion never noticed a chair before, as the room was very small, but when she turned around there was suddenly one behind her. Still forgetful of the task at hand, she did as she was instructed and slowly sat down.
"Forgive me for startling you, my dear: the woman groveled in a voice that seemed to come from everywhere at once. " I am not so used to strangers anymore. Nobody visits me. But you have come! I shall help you, my dear, with anything in your life. I can give you anything you desire."
"First, tell me who you are," Marion said.
"My name is Madame LeLora Perldanda. You may call me LeLora." LeLora began waving her hands over the crystal ball and it began to glow with a deep red light. "I see we are going to get to know one another very closely, yes?"
"I apologize, Madame, but I came here to find a someone. He kidnapped a girl from the forest and then brought her here. I was sure she brought her in to this trailer!"
LeLora shook her head. "My dear, as you can see there is nobody here but me and you!" She motioned around the room. "It’s much impossible to hide here."
Marion wanted to continue asking questions but she found her mind blank as if someone had just taken her thoughts away. She focused n Madame LeLora.
"Now, my pet, you have come here but not for a soldier." She waved her hands above the ball again and chanted a magic phrase. "Robin Hood" She said in English.
Marion gasped and the Madame smiled with satisfaction. "I thought so. Yours is a love that cannot be openly expressed, however desirable that is.
You, my dear lady, want the evil banished so you can have him all to yourself."
Mario nodded wordlessly.
LeLora continued. "Then, my child, I will help bring you and Robin together once and for all."
"But we already love each other so devotedly," Marion protested.
"This love is private, no? How do you know that he is not running off with every girl in England?"
All at once Marion’s heart burned red-hot with anger at the accusation. Robin was smart enough to never do that. On the other hand, he was pursued often by some of the most beautiful ladies in Europe. Once, at a homecoming, he was found in the arms of an old flame. He claimed that it was a grave mistake and Marion believed him. But after facing the facts thanks to Madame LeLora, she wasn’t so sure anymore.
The sorceress knew she had won out. "Yes, my dear, you know it and I know it. You must work to keep Robin by you side. You beauty is what counts, and I shall make you beautiful. The most beautiful girl in all of England."
"But I am already happy with my looks," Marion pointed out.
LeLora leaned across the table so close to Marion that their noses almost touched. "This is not a game, my child. This is your only way to keep Robin Hood. You must trust me."
And trust Marion did.
LeLora pulled a small round mirror from the pocket of her purple cloak and gave it to Marion. "Gaze into it," she demanded. Marion obeyed. "Now. Think of your body, what you hate most about it, and repeat these magic words: Majaht u-tay Xiffca.
As Marion did this, a beam of blue light came from the mirror, striking her right on the nose. Then as suddenly as it happened, the light was gone and Marion was left with a slightly shorter nose.
"Gaze into this magic mirror at least once a day," Madame LeLora instructed. "Every time you do, think of a part of you that you hate and repeat those magic words. Do so until your flaws have been fixed. Then you will not have to worry about Robin leaving you will then be the perfect women and he will need nobody else."
Marion hesitated. "Well….I like my new nose." She turned the mirror to get a look at every angle. "But I want it shorter still. Can I do that, Madame LeLora?"
"Of course, child. Use the mirror as much as you wish until your nose is as short as you want it, or your eyes are as brown as you want them, or anything else. You know what kind of woman Robin wants. Now you can be her."
"Are you sure this is the right thing to do?" Marion asked.
"Yes, deary, it is. You want to keep Robin right?"
Truth to tell, Marion had no idea in the world what kind of girl Robin wanted. But not one to argue, she nodded once again and stood up to leave, sensing that LeLora was finished with her.
"Come back and visit me within five suns," the sorceress called after the lady warrior as she left.
Dazed and confused, Marion slipped the small magical mirror into her pocket and saddled up. Within moments she was galloping back to camp in a dream-like state. She had no idea where she was going, yet some kind of source was leading her home.
Right outside of camp, Marion dismounted and put her hands to her lips to sound the secret birdcall that would allow her in. But she stopped when she realized that her hair was a mess from the horse ride. She had a solution; withdrawing the magical mirror from her pocket, Marion held is out, pictured her flat dark hair in her mind, and repeated the magic word. In a blue flash Marion’s frizzy curls were piled on top of her head, adorned in sapphires and rubies. Definitely sexy.
Marion had never felt so glamorous in her life. With her new nose and beautiful hair, she felt like she could get anything she wanted. It was vain but so worth it. Marion patted her hair, which looked as though it was made to hold the crown of a queen. Then she sounded the birdcall and hurried into camp.
End of Chapter One
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