Robin was understandably upset but sympathetic when Marion told him the story about the sorceress and the disappearing soldier.
"Whatever happened, obviously this sorceress is behind it." Robin explained. "We have to investigate. I have a feeling that there’s more to this than just another attempted kidnapping.
Fool, Marion thought. He hasn’t even noticed my hair yet. "But Robin, if this sorceress IS behind the disappearance of the soldier and the girl, she may be a threat to us as well. One incident; is the risk really worth it?"
"We’ve dealt with worse before, you know," Robin replied with a wry smile. "We’re used to is".
With that, Robin considered the argument closed. "Well, then, suit yourself." Marion said. "I am going to my tent to get some sleep. I’m exhausted!"
Robin watched open-mouthed as she stalked off to her tent. Little John, who was sharpening a spear near by, couldn’t help but overhear. He approached Robin.
"Since when does she take cat naps, Robin?".
"I was just wondering the same thing myself." Robin said with a thoughtful scratch of the head.
"What about her hair?" Little John asked. "I don’t recall her leaving like that."
"I was hoping she would tell me what happened. I know it doesn’t seem much but I have an awful feeling about this. This isn’t like Marion at all."
"Maybe you should talk to her," Little John suggested.
"Eh. Well, tomorrow I’ll talk to her about it. Maybe it’s just a 24 hour
* * * * * * * * * * *
Little did Robin know of the events unfolding several miles from camp. Within the dark, mysterious space of her cramped trailer, an evil witch plotted against the greatest hero in the history of the world. As she ran her bony hands over the smooth surface of her show-all crystal ball, she concentrated on the dark-haired lady warrior known as Marion. Within the swirling magic of the crystal ball, she sighted Marion, who was lying comfortably on a cot of some sort. She was covered up to her pale chin by a thin blanket and her curls were piled on top of her head and adorned with flowers.
"Good," the witch thought with satisfaction. "She’s been using the mirror! And soon I will win over her beauty…and her soul! Tonight, I shall sleep well."
*** *** ***
The next morning Robin and the residents of camp joined together for breakfast. The sweet smell of sugar and Briala cinnamon wafted from the humid cooking tent and a curious Robin went to investigate.
"What’s this concoction, Friar?" he asked with a lopsided grin and a quick sniff as he glanced over the large wooden cooking table. Tuck had laid out heaps of cinnamon and sugar, globs of goat butter, and mounds of soft, floury dough. "A new recipe of my own design," Tuck exclaimed proudly. "I call it the cinnamon roll!"
Robin picked up a small bowel of dribbly white stuff and examined it from every angle. He knew it bugged the Friar to do so.
"Frosting." Tuck said. He plucked the bowel away from Robin and set it back down on the table. "Here, take a pan of my fresh-baked cinnamon rolls outside for breakfast. Tell everyone there’s enough for seconds, too."
Robin sniffed the steaming pastries; they were heaven. His mouth was watering. "I can’t wait to taste these little things, Tuck. They look great!"
"They’re sweet, too," Tuck agreed. "One of these days my name will go down in history as having made the cinnamon roll famous!"
Tuck was smart, but he could also take to extravagant flights of fancy. Robin patted him on the back. "I’m sure you will." He said and exited.
Outside, the hungry campers went bananas for the cinnamon rolls. Within a few minutes, the whole pan was gone and Robin was calling for more.
"Hurry, Tuck, we have ravenous people out here!"
"I’m going as fast as I can! These things take time to bake you know!"
While Robin waited for the nest batch of breakfast, he looked over the crowd and suddenly realized that someone was missing. Marion wasn’t with everyone else.
More curious than alarmed, Robin made his way through the breakfast club and over to Marion’s tent. The leather flap was closed and everything appeared quiet.
"Marion," Robin called out. "Marion, are you asleep?"
"Just a moment," came an Angelic voice from within the tent. Robin signed with relief. Marion had been in her quarters since the afternoon before, and if she was asleep as she said was going to be then here was no reason for her to be sleeping in. It wasn’t like Marion to sleep more than 6 or 7 hours at a time. Still, maybe she was getting sick. Robin would soon find out.
A few minutes later Marion pranced out of her tent. Robin smiled, but his face quickly fell when he saw Marion.
She was wearing a slender sapphire blue crushed-velvet dress with tiny gold trim that complimented her curvy figure. Her hair was displayed in an elegant wave and a large red ruby hung around her throat. "Sorry I’m late for breakfast," she said in a throaty voice.
Robin found himself at a loss of words and, for a moment, completely overtaken by her beauty. But he snapped out of it and eyed the change. "Where did you get that dress?" he asked.
Marion looked away as color flooded her cheeks. She knew he wouldn’t like it. "It’s just something I had tucked away, Robin," she said. "I thought I would wear it for breakfast!"
Well, more power to you," Robin said with a frown. "But watch out, we’re having a messy breakfast."
Throughout the morning, all eyes were on Marion, graceful and elegant. She ate only one cinnamon roll daintily and made sure to keep her gown clean.
Although most of the campers tried with difficulty to ignore Marion, as she stood out like a sore thumb, they failed miserably. Breakfast was one of the strangest that he’d been through in a long time. After an eternity, it was over and all the campers went off in their separate directions to perform the day’s duties. A subdued Robin headed to his own tent to read up on meditation techniques, but Marion cornered him.
"Robin, dah-ling, would you mind taking a walk through the forest with me? I have something I want to talk over with you!" She asked, eyelashes fluttering.
Robin noted that her voice took on a slight French accent.
Suddenly heads turned as a sharp shrill came from outside the camp. When the trees parted, one of the campers rode in on his steed right up to Robin. He quickly jumped off his horse and ran up to Robin, chest heaving as he gulped in oxygen. "ROBIN HOOD!!!" he managed to cough out.
Robin grabbed the camper’s shoulders. "Calm down, Macon. What’s going on?"
"Sir, we’ve just gotten word that Prince John is having a ball at his palace right now. It’s a convention-like meeting for mages and witches from the countryside! It just started this morning. Rumor has it that this is a cover-up for another one of Prince John’s schemes."
Marion tossed her hair. "It certainly pays to informants, doesn’t it!"?
With a raise of his eyebrow, Robin said. "I’ll bet you a million dollars that the sorceress tied to the soldier’s disappearance has something to do with this convention. Why not? The soldier that disappeared into her trailer was one of the Prince’s."
Robin rounded up the warriors and told them the news. "I say we go investigate," he suggested.
"Right Robin," Little John agreed. "We cannot afford to take chances with the events unfolding around here."
Marion was with the group but she felt a million miles away. "Robin, what about our walk?"
Robin folded his arms and looked away, but Little John and Tuck glanced slowly at her with surprise dawning in their eyes. That was the first time Marion hadn’t thrown herself into the chance to protect the good people of England. "A walk?!" Little John exclaimed, unable to keep a little disgust out of his voice.
"All of you saddle up," Robin commanded. "I need to talk to Marion for a minute."
Friar and Little John raced to prepare their horses. Robin stayed behind with Marion and tried to appear oblivious to her apparent elation at being alone with him.
"Marion, I have never talked sharply to you. But we have priorities and we have to get to the convention. Can the walk wait until after supper tonight!"
Marion objected with obvious annoyance. "Please Robin, we hardly get any time together. Prince John will always be there, you know. Please?"
"Saddle up, Marion." Said as he walked swiftly away. Marion stomped her foot and went to do as she was told.
Robin and his group were no less than a mile away from Little John’s castle when they decided to stop and take the rest of the way on foot. The drab walls of the main hall were peaking over the trees when Little John suddenly ordered the group to stop.
"I have a bad feeling," he whispered as the warriors huddled together. "Like we’re being set up for a trap."
"What should we do?" Robin asked.
"Well, disguises are out of the question. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with going right up to the castle guards ad punching their lights out. However, this time I feel more danger than usual."
"We have to find out what’s going on with that convention. Drat, we have to get in there!" Friar Tuck exclaimed.
"I don’t know. This time my instincts are telling me differently than I am sure you want to hear, Robin."
Robin knew when he was whipped. He might have been brave and stupid sometimes, but he also knew when to listed to his people. "All right. We have to find an alternative."
While the three men chatted, Marion, back in her usual red leather armor, heard a slight rustling behind her coming from one of the bushes. She pivoted slightly, but saw nothing but the wind rushing through the trees. When she turned back to the group, she heard the rustling again, only louder. This time she knew it was something other than the wind.
When she glanced behind again she saw one of Prince John’s soldiers peeking out from behind a tree trunk a few yards away. Ever so softly, he moved from behind the tree and started toward Marion, sword drawn. The other warriors were oblivious to the enemy, so Marion knew she was going to have to act alone to take him by surprise. She stepped her right foot back slightly for power, put her hand on the sword hanging at her waist, and waited. When the soldier was close enough she whipped around 180 degrees and with a strong
HEEEEYAAAAAAAAAHHH kicked her muscular legs up. Robin Hood, Tuck, and Little John looked up with disbelief and prepared their own weapons. Just as Marion was about to connect with the solder’s neck, something happened and her ankle twisted to the left. In pain, Marion fell short of the soldier and barely hit him. He began smirking. Robin dropped his sword and raced over to help her while Tuck and John tried to take out the soldier.
Robin was helping a shaken Marion to her feet when three other soldiers jumped out from behind trees. "Stay here, don’t move and only defend yourself if you have too," Robin yelled sharply to Marion. He quickly helped her against a tree and drew his sword. The other soldiers were already upon Tuck and Little John.
Fearful for her life, Marion tried to wobble away from the fight into the woods to hide, but one of the soldiers got away from the men and went after her.
"Hey pretty lady," he cried when he caught up with her. Marion tried to wobble faster but the limping was just too painful. "Is your leg hurt? Allow me to make it better!"
The soldier whipped around and threw a massive kick to Marion’s crippled ankle. With a howl of pain, Marion went crashing to the forest floor. Robin had just knocked out one of the soldiers when he saw Marion go down. His heart burning white-hot with anger, he ran with high-speed towards the soldier and punched him to kingdom come. The blow was hard enough to knock that soldier out too, and Robin reached down to fold Marion in a loving hug. "It’s going to be ok," he murmured softly. Marion was crying in earnest from the pain. Robin didn’t recall ever hearing her cry like that.
Meanwhile, Little John and Tuck finished off the two other soldiers. They hurried over to check on Robin and Marion, but they weren’t all alone for long. Five more castles solders jumped out of hiding and started towards the group of warriors.
"We can’t stay here any longer," Robin said. "Marion’s hurt, we have to get out of here!"
Little John hoisted Marion into his arms with little effort and the warriors hotfooted it through the forest to where they left the horses. Thanks Gods when they left the hideous solders didn’t follow. Instead, they stayed behind and doubled-over with laughter. Robin didn’t dare look back, for even though Marion was hurt he was trembling with pure anger. It was the first fight he had ever ran from in his life.
End of Chapter Two
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