"NO!" Orrxuda screamed out as she clutched her head.
Robin had been ahead of her. When he heard her scream, he ran back to her side. "Cat what is it, what’s wrong?" he beseeched her to tell him.
Orrxuda could not answer him. She was trying desperately to keep control of Cat’s body. With her hands still to her head, she screwed her eyes shut tightly. By concentrating her powers, she was able to push Catrina back into limbo. Once she had complete control again, she lowered her hands and opened her eyes. When she did, she saw Robin looking at her with his huge brown eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly as he put his hand on her arm.
His touch shot through her. His loving spirit and genuine kindness were so strong, it felt like her evil soul was being wrapped in a blanket of the softest, purest white light there was. She moved quickly away from his touch. "Yes, I’m fine. Let’s move on," she said coldly.
Robin knew at that moment that it was not his Cat. It looked like her, but what ever was inside, was not her. Catrina would never have moved away from him. She was a touchy feely kind of person. At least she was with him. Most of the time it was all he could do to keep her off of him. From now on, his guard would be completely up. He would continue the ruse to find out exactly what she had in mind. And he also had to find a way to get his Catrina back.
It was dusk before they stopped for the night. Robin gathered rocks and branches to build a camp fire. Not much was said between the two. Robin had brought some food. They sat across the camp fire from each other and ate in silence.
Orrxuda was not pleased with the way things were going. She was not sure what to do. So, she decided to wait until morning to see what would happen. The day had taken its toll on her. "Robin, I’m very tired. I’m going to go to sleep now. I’ll see you in the morning."
"All right," he said getting up. He took a blanket from his pack and walked over to her. "Here is a blanket. You just may need it tonight. There are no clouds in the sky so it looks like it may be a cold night," he said as he unfolded the blanket and spread it over her. "Sweet dreams Cat."
Orrxuda knew that he was suspicious of her, yet he treated her so kindly. She could not help but be moved by his gesture.
Robin saw her eyes soften a bit. She looked more like Cat, his Cat. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe it was Cat and her actions were just a result of the spell on her. Yet his heart told him differently. He would just have to continue the battle of wills.
The night wore on. Robin stoked the fire while Cat slept. He was fighting off his own exhaustion. Finally it won out. He pulled out a blanket for himself and snuggled into it. Within moments, he was asleep.
It was not long after Robin fell asleep that Orrxuda opened her eyes. She sat up and just stared over at Robin’s sleeping form. He was curled up on his right side. His right arm was bent up underneath his head so he could use it as a pillow. His left arm pulled the blanket tightly to his chin for warmth. He looked so pretty. His relaxed face was the face of innocence. Innocent he may look, but she knew how cunning and clever he really was. He had a mind like a steel trap. There would be no getting around that. She would just have to be a little more clever and of course use her power. She would have him.
It startled her when he moved. He pushed the blanket from his shoulders and chest as he half turned over. His upper body was flat to the ground while his legs were still curled on his side. His thick mane of chestnut hair now fanned across the ground. Robin’s high cheekbones and mouth where now accentuated by the light of the fire.
Orrxuda could not help herself. She quietly tip-toed over and knelt next to him. She reached out and touched his hair lightly. It was soft as silk. With the back of her fingers, she started to caress his cheek.
Suddenly her wrist was in a vise-like grip.
Robin had awaken. He clamped on to her wrist. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
She had to think of something quickly, "I was...there was a bug on you," she stammered.
His eyes narrowed, "A bug?"
"Yes. I was just brushing it away. Now let go!"
Robin didn’t let go. He kept a hold of her as he stood up and pulled her up with him. He wasn’t going to play around any longer, "All right, the jigs up!"
Trying to look as sweet as she could, "Why Robin I don’t know what you mean?"
"Don’t toy with me. That body may be Catrina’s, but you are not her. What have you done to her?"
She knew the game was over, "Just borrowed her body for a while. Her consciousness is in limbo. Since you have seen through my deception, I no longer have use of it."
Robin felt her body go limp in his grip. He caught the body before it hit the ground. Gently he lay Catrina’s body on the ground. She was so still. His peripheral vision caught movement across the fire from him. He looked up and saw a very dark and very beautiful woman standing before him. He was a little stunned at just how beautiful she was. Yet her eyes were dark and evil. There was nothing soft about her.
"Who are you?" he asked as he stood to his full height. He noticed that she was also very tall. She was only a few inches shorter than he.
"I am Orrxuda, Priestess of the dark, sorceress extraordinair."
"So, Priestess, what is your game?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I want you," she said flatly.
"Ah ha. Now why would you want lil’ ole me?" he asked playfully.
"I think you may have an idea."
"Well, if it is not to turn me in for the reward, then it is to try to take my soul," he told her as if it was the millionth time he had said it.
"It is the latter."
"Okay. Here is how this will go. You will try to take me. I will try to stop you. A possible fight will ensue. Etcetera, etcetera. Then in the end, I will win and you will either be left without any power or destroyed," he explained blandly.
"Don’t believe me, do you?"
"You are a bold one aren’t you? No, I do not believe you. I will have your Divine energy with or without your body. Either way you are mine."
He didn’t get through to her. He was going to have to go through another ordeal and that made him angry. With his jaw tightened and flashing eyes, "Just try me," he seethed.
Her eyes narrowed, "So you want to play do you. Well you have never met a playmate like me before."
"Oh I don’t know about that. I have met a lot of pathetic, self-centered, over bearing, evil minded despots in my time."
She was furious. "You will pay for your impudent remarks!" She raised her right arm and pointed her index finger at him. A red stream of light ignited from her fingertip. It shot through the cold night air directly at Robin.
The beam was as fast as a bolt of lightning, but Robin had been ready. He had anticipated her move and did an air somersault out of its path. He landed on his feet and waited for her next move.
"You have very quick reflexes," she had to compliment him.
"Thanks. I get that from my mother."
The next instant she launched another bolt at him.
Once again he was able to avoid his adversaries weapon. "What’s the matter Orrxuda? Did you miss the last hundred years of target practice?" he taunted her and gave her a devilish smile.
Again, she tried to hit her moving target and missed. Only this time when Robin landed on his feet, his left foot hit a rock. Off balance, he hit the ground hard on his back. The wind had been knocked out of him so he was unable to rise quickly enough.
Orrxuda walked over and stood above him. She had the evilest smile on her face. She looked down at her prey. With a cold calculating voice, "You are mine. Good night Robin Hood."
Robin looked up as he tried to catch his breath. All he had time to say
was, "Oh no." Then the world faded away with a red flash and intense pain.
His mind and body faded into obscurity.
Cat was still surrounded by the blackness. Yet she felt that there was less pressure on her. Once again she began to gather her power. The energy grew inside her mind. Suddenly she felt as if she were standing at the entrance of a cave. She looked up and thought she saw a sky that was spangled with stars, but there was no moon.
Around her the shapes of trees and rocks loom - she was not able to see anything clearly in the darkness, but her sense of smell was acute. She noticed the mossy, damp, earthy scents. As she entered the cave, she noticed it was pitch black. It was just as where she was before, only she was able to feel the smooth sides of the cave walls and floor. Despite the darkness she had a feeling of security. The cave was not cold, and seemed to hold her securely, as if she had returned to the womb. As she made her way through the cave, she was conscious of gradually going downward. She felt more sure that she was penetrating deep, deep within the Earth. She paused.
Soon she noticed that is was getting lighter and she could very gradually see the contours of the cave walls. There seemed to be a luminosity emanating from the cave walls themselves. Yet downward she went into the heart of Mother Earth. Continuing her journey she noticed that she was no longer in a cave, but a forest.
She was deep within the wood. The trees around her seemed ancient and gnarled and she felt they must be hundreds of years old. There was again the smell of damp and earthiness, only now it was sweet smelling. The path she was on was now very narrow and becoming over-grown. No foot had trodden here for many centuries. Continuing on, walking more and more slowly. The path seemed to be coming to an end and Cat found herself at the foot of a gently sloping hill.
At the top of the mound was an apple tree, in full bloom. As she climbed the slope, she breathed deeply of the sweet scent of apple blossom. The wonderful sound of singing birds heightened her awareness. The bell-like clarity was like a love song, an incantation, a spell, a symphony. Cat finally spoke, "I ask the creativity of the universe to be shown to me. I open my eyes and my heart to potential and inspiration. I join in the flow of opportunity and all creation within the greater good. I bare my soul that I may once again be whole. I ask that this be done now. So be it. And so it is."
The body in her mind was thrown down to the ground at the foot of the tree. With all of the strength she had in her, she tried to rise. As if under a giant thumb, she was held fast to the ground. Then darkness once again covered her mind.
She did not know how long she had lain in the darkness as she opened her eyes. Yes! They were her eyes! Her hands! Her arms! It was her body! She had succeeded!
Her enthusiasm was not enough to make her body move from the ground. There was no strength in her. She was as weak as a kitten. Without any warning, she collapsed back against the earth and fell into a deep, healing sleep.
Again she awakened. Still on the ground. Only this time she felt more power in her. Her eyes opened and focused. Gazing slowly about her, she took stock of what she saw. A stone circled now cold camp fire, two blankets, a brown leather horse pack. The look in her eyes grew as she stared at the pack. It was Robin’s! Only where was he? Her instincts told her that he was in trouble. Cat tried to rise from the ground again. Her strength was still not there. She was able to only get to her knees. "I have to help Robin! Someone, please help me!" she cried out.
Then she closed her eyes and relaxed her body. Taking a deep breath, she spoke, "I call on the guardians and the power of the universe to join with me. With the fire of creative energy and a sword of compassion, I increase and manifest my own power on the plane of reality. I do this within the greater good and with respect for the higher order. I claim this power and say so be it. And so it is."
Cat opened her eyes and felt a renewed strength. As she stood she began
to gather up an energy store inside of her. It would take all the power
she had to save Robin this time and she knew it. She was dealing with an
evil and powerful woman. But good and right would win out. It just had to!
The lookout high in a tree above the camp in Sherwood saw a riderless horse approaching. He blew the horn to signal the tree gate to be opened.
Marion, Tuck and Little John all became alert and they headed to the gate. As they neared it, Robin’s horse came trotting through.
Little John grabbed the reins and brought it to a stop. "He doesn’t look like he has been ridden hard. There is no sweat."
"Hold him still Little John. There is something under the saddle," Marion said.
She pulled the bark from under the saddle. "It’s Robin’s hand writing. It says, ‘Going to stay to help Cat. Have my suspicions. May be trouble. Going to Count Lanis’ castle. Come soon.’" Marion looked up at Tuck and Little John, "We had better go as soon as we can. There has to be trouble seeing as it’s Robin that is involved."
"I agree. Little John, would you have someone take care of Robin’s horse and get our horses ready. Marion, you and I can get our things together for the trip," Tuck finished.
They all nodded in agreement and split up to do what each needed to do.
It was about a half an hour later when they left the camp on their way to
help Robin and Cat.
Robin woke suddenly. His head buzzed. There was no real pain, just discomfort and confusion. He sent the command to his brain to lift his hand to his head. That command was not answered. Aware that there was a problem, Robin looked over to his right hand. It was held down by an iron shackle straight out from his side. To confirm his belief, he looked over to his left hand. Confirmation was received, it too was held down in iron. He tested his legs and they too were held down by restraints. He was laid out spread eagle on some sort of stone table.
Robin scanned the room. It was a cave. There were torches every five feet that lined the walls. To his left was a hearth with the fire burning brightly. As he looked more carefully, he noticed several odd things. There was an ornate iron incense burner that was three feet tall. He could see silver chalices, black and bronze-handled daggers, swords, spears, candles, blackthorn and belladonna (deadly nightshade) hung in bunches on the wall, and of course a skull. Uneasiness struck him when he saw the circle that surrounded the table he was on. It was no table, it was an alter stone. He hoped that it was only ceremonial and not sacrificial.
"I see that you are awake."
Startled, he craned his neck and looked behind him. It was Orrxuda. She was even more beautiful than before. The firelight gave her long black hair a sheen and made her black eyes sparkle. She was wearing a floor length chiffon dress. It covered, but it revealed. He was not looking forward to whatever she had planned for him.
Orrxuda stepped to the end of the table where Robin’s head was. She looked down on her prisoner. He was so devastatingly handsome. She truly hoped that she did not have to obliterate him from the face of the earth.
She placed her hands on the sides of his warm, beautiful face. Robin tried to shake her off, but her grip only became tighter. She held his head still and looked into his eyes. "So Robin, where are we in your little scenario?" she asked smiling down at him.
Robin hated the fact that she held him. He felt so helpless, but he was not going to let her know that. "I believe that we are at the etcetera point," he quipped.
"I like this part. This is the part where I am in complete control over your spirit, your body..." she leaned in so her lips were an inch from his. "...and your life," she whispered then kissed him full on the mouth.
Once she finished kissing him and let his head go, Robin turned his head and spit the foul taste of her from his mouth.
The woman in Orrxuda was offended by his act and she slapped him across the cheek.
Robin really wished he had a free hand so he could rub his stinging cheek. "What’s the matter Orrxuda? Are you a little thin skinned?" he taunted her.
Orrxuda walked around the alter where he lay. She let her finger drag along the outline of his body. "You are treading on very thin ice. You have no idea what kind of power I have. I suppose if I wanted to, I could destroy you with a single thought. Just be glad that I am fond of your looks."
"That’s supposed to make me happy? I’d rather look like a toad and be free than look the way I do and spend eternity with the likes of you."
On her second trip around the alter, Orrxuda had picked up a chalice and the black-handled dagger. "I’m not sure that you are worth all of this trouble. I’m going to have to weight this over very carefully. But I will give you one chance," she said as she stopped at his right side.
"May I ask a question?"
"Yes you may. Considering it may be one of your last."
"What do you plan on doing with that dagger?" he asked eyeing the very sharp blade.
"This is no ordinary dagger. It is a ceremonial athame. You should be honored. I don’t use this to cut just anything."
Orrxuda closed her eyes and held the athame blade down over Robin’s body.
Robin looked at the dagger that was held over his stomach. He pulled against his bonds knowing very well he couldn’t break free. But he was not going to just lay still for this.
In a steady, low voice, Orrxuda began, "Dark Mother Cerridwen I call upon thee. With this athame that I bear, heed my words that we may share. Bright with fire, influence the spirits to bring me my desire. Let your magic bind. Let Robin Hood be mine. So mote it be!"
End of Chapter Two
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