Marion, Little John, Friar Tuck, and René had arrived on Nottingham. There was a rumor that Prince John held Robin Hood captive. The four pretty soon heard about it.
"Oh my god, do you think that it was Victor, who gave Robin's life into Prince
John's hands?" Marion asked René.
"That's possible. His urge for money is as big as his hunger for blood. There is nothing he wouldn't do for money. Nothing," René said.
"This sounds not good to me," Little John said. Friar Tuck nodded his head in agreement.
"But what can we do, to get him out of Prince John's hands?" he asked the others. They didn't answer, because suddenly a noise came over from the main gate.
"What's that?" John asked.
"Let's take a look!" Marion suggested. The others followed her. They all wore capes so none could identify them without taking a closer look. They ran over to the main gate of the wall, that surrounded the city of Nottingham. They didn't like what they saw, when they turned around the corner. Soldiers entered the town. Many Soldiers. There were hundreds of them.
"We can never free Robin with all the soldiers in town," Marion said, all shocked. They stayed at their hiding place behind a house's walls until the soldiers had disappeared in the castle. Marion, Tuck, John, and René ran back to their horses. "We can't stay here. We have to go back to the compound," Marion yelled hurried. They all mounted and rode out of Nottingham. Their horses had to run as quick as they've never ran before in their lives. Back in the camp, they all got together in Robin's hut.
"What can we do now?" René asked. She sat down on the floor. The others kept silent for a while.
"We have to obey the rule," Tuck suddenly said.
"Which rule?" René asked confused. Marion's eyes opened wide.
"Nooo, this is Robin!" she shouted determined.
"It was Robin who set up this one rule. And you remember that he said, that everyone in the compound has to obey it," John reminded her.
"Again, which rule are you talking about?" René asked. Tuck faced Little John.
"Listen, we have many rules in the compound, but this is the most important one.
In case that one of us is being held captive by Prince John and his men and it is too dangerous for the others to free him, they are not allowed to go and save him. It's simple but strict. And this time it is much too dangerous to help Robin out," Tuck said. His eyes were full of fear.
"NO! Again, this is Robin! What shall we do without him?" Marion whined.
"Marion, you know that we all love him. But we have no choice. The only thing that we can do for him, is to go to Nottingham on the day of his...." he couldn't go on. This word didn't pass his lips.
"Tuck! Are you mad? I don't want you to say such terrible things. He won't die!" she shouted angrily.
"Marion, we have to face the facts. Probably Robin will never return," Tuck said half loud.
"I can't accept that."
"I know. I also cannot accept it. But it seems as if we have to."
*** Three days later in Nottingham ***
Drums could be heard through the crowded streets. The time of Robin Hood's death had come. Prince John wanted to see him die on the gallows. And today was the day, when Robin Hood should die. Marion, Little John, Friar Tuck, René and some other members of the camp hid among the crowd. Robin was still not to see. They were nervous. Today they hadto watch their closest friend, the man, who had done so much for the people of England, die.
Suddenly the drums became louder. The sign that the Prince had come to watch the cruel ceremony. No cheers came from the crowd. Soon again, the drums became louder. Now it was Robin's turn to come out. About twenty soldiers kept him distant from the crowd. Others were all among the crowd, so that the people could be kept under control.
Then Marion saw her Robin. Dry blood covered most of his face and body. She could tell that he had gone through a lot of pain and torture. A tear rolled down her pale cheek. She couldn't believe that this was the last, that she would see of her only true love. Robin was weak. Two guards had to held him up on his feet. The hangman was already waiting for Robin to arrive at the last place, he would see alive. The guards heaved Robin up to the gallows. The hangman stepped towards him and laid the running knot around his neck. Robin took a deep breath. Luckily he had been able to make his peace with the world. Prince John signed the hangman to do his job. A big smile curved his evil face.
The hangman walked over to Robin, who was standing on a chair. Just as he wanted to kick it away, a deep male voice shouted "STOP, or you'll die!" Everyone looked in the direction from where the voice came. A large man was sitting on his horse. His armor glittered in the sun. Robin's eyes opened wide when he saw who had spoken, and Prince John had become smaller under his stolen crown. The crowd went down on their knees.
"King Richard!" Marion said in unbelieving. She also fell down her knees.
"So this is the way how you've ruled my country during my absence," Richard shouted angrily towards his brother Prince John.
"Richard! This man is an outlaw! He has stolen my --- your habit."
"He hasn't stolen anything. You were the one who did."
"Richard, brother! You misunderstood. I just wanted the best for England - your kingdom," Prince John pleaded with his brother.
"Don't lie. I know about your plans. Hangman, release Robert of Locksley. The king has spoken. Guards, take my brother, I spit on his name, prisoner." The guards stormed towards Prince John and bound him. The hangman let go of Robin.
Marion couldn't stand back anymore and ran towards Robin, just in time to save him from falling down from the gallows' platform. He was unconscious.
"Robin, it's over now. King Richard's back. We're no outlaws no more," she said to him, as his limp body was laying in her arms. Now Tuck came also out of the crowd. He needed to take care of Robin's wounds.
"We need to get him away from here. I can't do anything for him here in the mud." He didn't know that meanwhile some people had brought a stretcher. As King Richard noticed what had happened to Robin, he spoke again.
"You may take him in my castle. I have the best physicians who can take care of him," he ordered. Some guards went towards Robin, Marion, and the others and heaved the stretcher up to take Robin to King Richard's castle. Marion never left his side.
A few hours later Robin woke up.
"Am I dead?" he asked weakly, not noticing anything at all. The only thing he could feel was the pain his whole body, coming from his time of torture.
"No," he heard a soft voice say. "You'll feel better soon." It was Marion sitting at his bedside, holding his hand.
"What has happened?"
"You don't remember, huh. King Richard returned just in time to save you from being hanged. We are in his castle."
"You mean we are in the same castle where Prince John lives and we're not in the dungeon or dead?"
"Err, firstly this is the castle, where Prince John used to live, and secondly he has been banned by the king. He will never return. We are free, Robin and so are the people of England. No more exaggerated taxes, no more fights with his soldiers. It's over. And your castle is yours again."
Robin's mind had become more clear now. He didn't say anything for some time. He seemed to think about something.
"What shall I do now? I'm gonna miss my life."
"Robin, what are you talking about? You wont die. Now a complete new life starts."
"Yeah, but I am used to the life of an outlaw. I can't think of it to live in my castle again ." "Robin, what are you going to miss? You'll have everything you want again."
"Probably. But what about all the others? I can't leave them alone! All of them have lost their homes. They have no place to return to."
"Robin, listen. You have done so much for them in the past. You need time of rest now. You don't have to fight anymore. Besides King Richard has promised to give them everything back, what Prince John has taken away from them. You don't have to worry about them," she said, trying to calm him down.
"And what about Friar Tuck and Little John? Will they go back to where they came from?" he asked.
"No, they'll stay. Little John wants to work as a blacksmith again and Tuck wants to go to a little village near Nottingham. They're looking for a priest, you know."
Again they kept silent for a while. Robin seemed to be in thoughts again. Marion actually didn't dare to disturb him. She could see the sadness in his eyes.
Suddenly everything, that had grown inside of him, his fear, his anger, broke out in a stream of tears. Marion didn't know what to do. She had always thought, that he was strong, that he could easily handle with all that. But now she saw him laying there, so far away, so lonely. And she couldn't do anything for him.
Marion caressed his cheek and softly wiped his tears away with her fingers.
Robin sat up in bed, not feeling the physical pain inside of him. Marion leaned over and him to embrace him.
"Now come on, Robin. Big boys don't cry," she smiled at him.
"Yeah, you're right," he said as he laid himself back again.
"Marion? Would you do me a favor?"
"Anything you want," she smiled softly at him.
"Bring me back into my camp. I want to sleep in my bed for a last time before I go back to my father's castle."
"I'll tell Little John," she said and left the room. Robin got out of bed and searched the room for his tunic. He found it laying over a chair. His fingers ran slowly over the soft leather. This wasn't the kind of clothes he was going to wear in the future. He put it one and waited for Marion to come back. Soon she came back into that bedroom, joined by Little John, Friar Tuck, and René. "Who's that?" he asked when he saw the stranger.
"This is René. Do you remember her?" Marion asked.
"We'll tell you later," Tuck interrupted them. "We should go back to the compound."
The others nodded their heads in agreement. Little John helped Robin down to the castle- yard. King Richard was waiting for them there. When he saw them coming, he went towards them. As the wanted to go down on their knees, he signed them not to do it.
"Robert of Locksley, Marion Fitzwalter, John Little, and Friar Tuck. I wanted to thank you all, for what you've done. You saved my kingdom and my throne. I promise that everything, that has been taken away from you, will be given back. My sick brother has been banned. He will never return. That's for sure," he smiled at them.
"Thank you, your highness," Robin said.
"I owe you much Robin Hood. If you need or want anything, let me know."
"Milord, at the moment I'd only want to go back to my camp. I hope you don't mind," Robin said in a still weak voice.
"Of course. My carriage will bring you back. That is the least what I can do for you." The king left them.
"Time to go home," John said.
"Yeah, let's go all back to where we belong," Tuck said happily. René had kept quiet all the time through.
"I hope you'll come with us. We have something to celebrate," Marion smiled at her. René's face brightened.
"Yes, thanks. I'd love to."
"Okay, then let's get going." Tuck and Little John helped Robin into the carriage. Marion, René and the other two men followed him in.
Back in camp, Robin asked them to bring him into his hut immediately. He was tired from the last days events and still suffering from his loss of blood. Slowly he began to realize what had happened. Then he remembered, that René wanted to tell him something about the last days, he didn't remember. He yelled for Marion and asked her to bring René to his tent.
René was nervous when he asked her about the things she had seen in that one certain night in the forest. He could hardly remember anything of it. But she patiently answered all his questions. After Robin was satisfied, he smiled at her.
"Thanks for helping my friends to find me. I'm sure it was not easy for you to tell them the truth about yourself, since you have been living the life of a human for many years."
"It was my pleasure. I'm glad that I could help," she smiled back at him.
"Now, join the others and celebrate. It's time now after all those years under
Prince John's reigns. Enjoy yourself!"
"I will," she promised and left his hut with a big smile on her face. Finally
Robin could find the rest he needed. He fell asleep and didn't awake for three days.
"Are you ready to leave?" Marion had popped her head through his door.
"I should be. Let's go home then," Robin smiled. He grabbed his bag and headed towards Marion. Before he left his tent he took a last look at the place that had been his home for so long.
"You can visit your camp. I know that many of the members will stay and won't touch your hut."
"It'll be never be the same again."
"No." They kept silent for a while.
"Let's go home," he finally said. They left the hut and went towards the stables. Robin threw his saddle bags over the horses back and mounted. So did Marion. Then they left the camp and went on their way to Robin's real home. Locksley Castle. They didn't say a word the whole way through. They remembered the old days, the good and the bad.
One hour later they arrived at Locksley Castle. The gate wasn't closed. There hadn't much changed within the last years. But the destruction of the battle years ago still could be seen. He dismounted and looked down to the ground.
"This is the place where my father was stabbed to death," he said half loud.
"I don't even know, where his bones lay. He has no grave," he sadly admitted.
"Let's go inside!" Marion suggested. Robin nodded his head yes. Marion dismounted and they both led their horses in on the reigns.
End of Chapter Four
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