By Adrienne Mokarry
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It was a beautiful summer day in Sherwood Forest. But Robin couldn't believe what was happening. He was losing the archery contest to Marian. All he could do was stare as her last arrow hit the bulls eye. How can this be?
"So, buddy boy, you have one arrow left and are still down by 8," she said, sauntering over. "Think you can pull it off?"
"Well, all I need is a bulls eye and I have you beaten," Robin answered.
"Yeah but can you handle the pressure?" she asked, grinning. Marian slowly did a circle around him. "You look a little nervous."
On the side, Little John and Friar Tuck began to laugh. For once, Marian had the upper hand and was doing her best to keep it. It looked as if she was succeeding.
"If you are trying to psyche me out, Marian, it's not working. I've had to deal with a lot scarier people than you."
"Yeah, like in the mirror!!"
Marian fell back next to Little John's sister, Ingrid, who was standing right behind Robin. As Robin was getting ready to shoot, she watched his hands intently. She watched him practice so many times over the past week, she knew the exact moment he would let the arrow fly. That was the moment she was waiting for. She turned to Ingrid and winked.
Robin's back twisted ever so slightly, indicating he was about to shoot. Marian turned to Ingrid quickly and asked, just loud enough for Robin to hear, "Doesn't Robin have a cute butt?"
Robin whipped around, his arrow hitting the tree 3 yards away from the target. "HUH??" Ingrid and Marian were hysterical laughing. "I won, I won! Ingrid, I won!" Marian shouted joyfully. She ran up to a dumbfounded Robin and planted a huge kiss on his cheek. "I won!"
Everyone cleared away and Robin was left standing alone. He shook his head ruefully.
It was a day for festivities. There was to be other activities, such as a cooking contest, which Tuck, of course, would judge and a scavenger hunt for all. Right now there was music and dancing. Marian was relaxing against a tree.
"So," came a voice from above, "how long were you and Ingrid planning that little... act this afternoon?"
"Not long," she answered. "You're upset that I beat you!"
"No, but it is going to be fun regaining my dignity in the scavenger hunt later," Robin replied.
"And what makes you think you are going to win that?"
"You can't distract me while I'm 8 items ahead."
"There are only 8 items to find."
"My point exactly."
Marian laughed heartily. "Sure, Robin. And I'm the queen of England."
"You married Richard and I wasn't invited? Tsk, tsk, Marian. See you at the finish line."
As Robin was walking away, Marian stood up, slightly confused, as Little John walked over. "What was that all about?"
Marian sighed. "I think Robin's a little miffed for what me and Ingrid did."
"I thought it was funny."
"Thanks, John. He's really intent on beating me in the scavenger hunt though."
"He'll get over it, Marian. He never stays mad for long."
"I hope you're right."
The list was posted on a tree: A cloak, a dagger, a bow, a packet of Tuck's spices, a whip, a shield, a bag of coins, and a ale tankard. It was minutes away from the first clue to be given. The sky was getting dangerously dark, way too early.
"Maybe we should call the scavenger hunt until tomorrow," Tuck suggested.
"Nah, Tuck! It'll be over before you know it," Robin answered, shooting a glance towards Marian.
That man gets me so aggravated sometimes!! Marian thought. He can't even take a joke!
"If you say so, Robin," said Tuck. "There are several of each item for each person in the contest. Are the contestants ready for the first clue?"
A chorus of "YES" was the answer.
A mile north, my eyes can see
A woven cloak, bright as can be
Long and warm, on the top of a tree
On it, the next clue you will see.
As Tuck finished reading the first clue, the pack was off. In the distance, thunder crashed.
The first item was the easiest to find. Robin was there in less than 8 minutes. But from the top of the tree, he could see Marian was fast on his trail. I'd better hurry if I want to stay ahead, he thought. Quickly he read the next clue:
To the east you will go
Where a bubbling brook dost flow
You will find a peace of mind
And a dagger of the dangerous kind.
Donning the cape, he was off.
Pausing for a quick breath, Marian glanced up. She saw Robin climb from the tree with grace. Damn, he's already on the way to the next item! Not thinking twice, she sprinted to the tree. She had to make up for lost time. Swiftly climbing to the top, she grabbed the cape and started her decent in one motion. She darted off in the same direction Robin did while reading the clue.
Bolts of lightning flashed across the sky followed by hideous crashes of thunder. Tuck was starting to get worried. It was only a half an hour into the hunt and the sky kept getting more threatening.
"John, I don't like the look of the sky."
"It looks very dangerous, Tuck. I hope everyone gets back before the storm starts."
"I'm not sure. It looks like it's going to pour any minute. Keep your fingers crossed."
Upon reaching the brook, Robin paused. It was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. Water flowing down a crystal formation into the brook. As he stood there staring, he thought of Marian. How he wished she was here to see it with him! He heard a snap of twigs behind him and whirled around. Someone was coming. He hid behind some boulders by the waterfall.
"Barkley!! Watch where you're going!"
Great, thought Robin. Prince John and his band of idiots.
"Stop here, troops. We'll rest and eat."
The weather was getting increasingly worse. The thunder and lightning was coming faster and every few minutes. The storm would be breaking very soon. Robin wanted to find shelter, but he couldn't go out, not with Prince John and his troops everywhere.
"Sir, look at this." One of the troops came over with about 7 daggers and the next clue.
"Well, well what do we have here," said Prince John. "It seems that we might be running into company today."
Robin slapped his head. Damn, the scavenger hunt. He'll capture everyone! His eyes opened in panic as one more person came to mind. Marian. He had to save Marian. She was right behind him. As a matter of fact, she should be arriving any minute. If John captured her, he would never forgive himself.
As if on cue, Robin heard a crunching sound coming from the forest. Marian!! Turn around!! Run!! He thought in vain. But he knew she couldn't hear him.
"What; the ....?"
"Hello my dear Lady Marian," said Prince John. "So nice of you to join us."
"I would like to know, too. Arresting two outlaws at once makes me much happier." He jerked his head in her direction. "Get her."
From behind the rock, Robin didn't know what to do. If he went out and helped her, they would both surely be arrested, for they were out numbered at least fifty to one. If he stayed, Marian would be captured. What was he going to do?
Four of John's soldiers advanced towards Marian. She drew her sword and prepared to fight.
"My dear, don't resist. It'll only make it worse on yourself," said John.
"Do you really expect me to go without a fight, your majesty? I think not."
The soldiers attacked. Marian fended them of with exceptional agility. She knocked out the first troop with a roundhouse kick to the head and threw the second into the third. The fourth circled around her warily.
"This is not going as I expected," said Prince John. "Just kill her."
The solider with the daggers nodded his head. Selecting one dagger, he waited until Marian's back was in full view.
"NOOOO!" Robin dashed out from his hiding place. I'm never going to reach her in time!!
The solider grappling with Marian was distracted momentarily. She connected with a right cross to his jaw and he dropped to the ground.
She turned around. "Robin?"
That was just the distraction the solider needed. He let the dagger fly. Robin tackled Marian and they tumbled to the ground.
"Everyone back to the village," Tuck shouted over the winds and rain. "The storm is starting!"
"Has Robin or Marian come back yet?" asked Little John.
"There has been no word from them. The other contestants have returned already, fearing the storm."
"We have to find them!"
"John, we can't go. The storm is too dangerous. We have to wait until it clears."
"But they could be hurt or something!"
"We'll just have to pray they aren't."
A lightning bolt crashed into the ground next to Prince John. "Back to the camp!" he yelled. Him and his soldiers dispersed, leaving Marian and Robin in the pouring rain. Robin just sat there, holding her.
"I'm so sorry. I tried. I tried to save you."
"I know... Robin. I... know." She passed out. As he looked down at her, his eyes drifted to her left shoulder where the dagger was buried to the hilt. A feeling overcame him, a feeling he never felt before. Hate. He hated Prince John and his troops. If Marian didn't survive the night, they were going to be sorry they were ever born. But he wasn't going to think of that. Right now, he had to find some shelter and try and fix her shoulder.
By the waterfall, he noticed an opening. Moving in closer, he saw there was a cave. Wrapping Marian up in the two cloaks, he carried her inside. Looking around he saw there was some dry log, leaves, and twigs. He started a fire.
It was time for Robin to take a look at her shoulder. He laid her on one of the cloaks as close to the fire as he could. Then he wrapped her up in the other cloak, her left shoulder free for examination. From what he could see, the dagger penetrated all the way through, exiting through her back. Robin tore his shirt up into long strips to bandage her as best he could. Lifting her slightly, he found the point where the dagger had exited. Folding a piece of cloth, he placed it over the point. He pulled the dagger out slowly, stopping halfway. Marian moaned in pain. Robin started to sweat with nervousness. He folded another piece to place over the front of the wound. Pulling the dagger out completely, he quickly placed the cloth over the opening, pressing firmly. Using most of the remaining strips, he banded the makeshift padding tightly to the wound. Gathering Marian up in his arms, he waited.
Friar Tuck was staring out the window. This storm gave him an awful feeling in the pit of his stomach. He knew something was going to go wrong today. Why wouldn't Robin listen to him? And now, both him and Marian were lost in the forest in this horrible storm. He was terribly worried. But all he could do was stare out the window and pray.
"... from the very first moment I saw you." Robin was talking softly to the still unconscious Marian. "We were five and I saw you dancing in the forest. Even then I knew that you would be the one for me. I never told you though. Always thought I was brave. But I couldn't express my feelings in that way. So I was to be your best friend from that moment on, which was fine with me. Attached at the hip, you could say. You were always there for me and the time you needed me most, look at what happened. Now, I might never have the chance to tell you how I really feel. I could never forgive myself if that happened."
"Robin... why are you crying?"
Robin jerked his head up quickly. "No no," he said, wiping his red eyes, "that's just the rain from the storm. How are you feeling?"
"Like I got run over by a horse. I can't move at all. I hurt all over."
Robin bowed his head. "I'm so sorry. It's all my fault. I should have come out sooner." The tears began to fall again and he didn't try to hide them.
"No, Robin, no." She reached up with her good arm and laid her hand on his cheek. "I should have been more careful."
He turned his head and pressed a kiss into her palm. "I'll make it up to you, I promise. I'll protect you forever." Looking down, he saw she had fallen asleep again. He kissed her gently on the forehead. "Forever."
Marian felt very strange. She was standing alone in the middle of the forest. To her left and right, there were soldiers coming at her with knives and daggers. She tried to run, but couldn't move. "Somebody help me! Help me please!" The soldiers were getting closer and closer. "Robin, help me!" she screamed.
"Robin, help me!" That scream echoed through the cave, awaking Robin.
"What, Marian? What's wrong?"
"You didn't come, you didn't come save me. They were coming at me from everywhere!" Her eyes were wild with fear. "You didn't help me." It came out as a whisper.
"It was just a bad dream. Look at me. It was only a dream." Robin held her head in his two hands, his eyes boring into hers. "I would never leave you. You're safe here."
As she fell once again into a fitful sleep, Robin was getting more and more worried. The look in her eyes before made his fears grow wore; she was probably delirious with fever. A touch on her forehead confirmed that fear. Laying her down gently on the cloaks, he took what was left of his shirt and stepped out into the storm to wet it in the brook. He turned back towards the cave, ready to reassume his vigil.
"John, what's wrong," asked his sister, sitting down next to him.
"I'm worried about Robin and Marian. Just because there's a little breeze outside, Tuck won't let me go and look for them."
"Tuck's right. That "little breeze" blew the tree we were dancing around this afternoon across the forest! That could be you."
"Yeah, but it could also be Robin and Marian."
"Robin can take care of himself and Marian. Don't worry about him."
"But I do, Ingrid. Just like I'd worry about you if you were lost in the storm."
She sighed and laid her head on Little John's chest. "I know."
The storm was dying down. Hopefully, though Robin, it will be calm enough to bring Marian home. He kneeled down to check how she was doing. Feeling her forehead, he grimly noticed that his makeshift washcloth and cool water did nothing to reduce her fever. Robin had to make a choice. Stepping outside the cave, he checked how bad the storm really was. The wind was gone but it was still raining. With a determined stride, he went back into the cave. Scooping Marian up carefully, he headed out into the rain.
After about an hour of walking, Robin stopped to check her wound. She was slowly getting worse. The wound had started to bleed again, and he had nothing else to wrap it with. He began to pray to God with all his might. Keeping his hand on the wound, he took Marian in his arms again and continued his journey. Fortunately, God was on his side.
"Robin!!" A loud bellowing made his head snap up.
"John, Tuck!! Help me! She's hurt!" Tuck ran over, his face scrunched up with concern. "What happened?"
"One of Prince John's troops; they ambushed her during the hunt."
"We must hurry back to the camp. She needs treatment immediately."
Back at the camp, Robin positioned himself in front of Marian's hut. Tuck was inside administering care to her and forbid Robin in. So, instead, he paced back and forth for two hours, waiting for Tuck to return.
When he finally appeared, he looked grim.
"How is she?"
"Well, the infection is pretty bad. All we can do is wait and see if she wakes up."
For the next three days, Robin kept a vigil by her bedside. He gave her medicine, cleaned her wound, bathed her forehead with cool water, and talked to her constantly. All the while, his own health was deteriorating. He didn't eat, drink, or keep up his appearance. His eyes sunk into his face and his goatee grew scraggly.
"I'm beginning to worry about Robin," said Little John.
"His health is starting to concern me, too," replied Tuck. "I'm going to have a talk with him."
He walked over to her hut. "Robin?"
"You are starting worry us. You're not eating and you are starting to look unhealthy. Come outside for a little while, I'll look after Mar--"
"No! I am not leaving until she wakes up. That's final." The tone of Robin's voice made Tuck realize there was no changing his mind. Defeated he went back outside.
"Dear Lord, please watch over them both."
Marian awoke to Robin talking. She was still slightly groggy and it hurt when she tried to open her eyes.
"...' To you I promise my first kiss and with it swear we'll never part.' " It was their poem, the one she had given to him as a child. "I carry it with me everywhere. It's like I always have a part of you with me. I-- "
"Marian! You're awake? How are you feeling," he asked, stroking her cheek.
"Fine and dandy, considering I have a hole in my shoulder."
"I should have been there. That should have been me instead of you."
"No. I'm fine. The question is, are you okay? You look like hell revisited."
"Except for my nerves, yes. Well," he said pausing a minute. "No. I have something to tell you. It might not be the right time but... "
"What? What is it?"
"I almost died out there thinking I might have gone on living without you because of me."
"Robin... Look at me," she said, grabbing his face in her hands. "I'm fine. Stop thinking about it."
"But I can't. It's haunting me."
"Because I love you! And thinking that you may have died made me want to die too."
Marian was silent.
"I'm sorry, Marian. I shouldn't have said that. I'll come back and check on you later." He turned to go.
"Robin... wait," she said, taking his arm.
"I've got something to tell you, too."
Sliding her arms around his neck she said, "You see, I love you too. Always have." With that, she kissed him. Robin melted into the kiss and thought vaguely, I thought I was supposed to do that. He laid her on the bed and began to kiss her like he always dreamed of.
A few minutes later, Tuck went to go and check on how Marian's condition was. About two seconds after he got to the hut, he was on his way back. I think they are going to be just fine, he thought with a giant smile. Just fine.
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