By Shelly Quinn
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Robin's dreams were quick-silver flashes of images. The bombarded him and he moaned in his sleep, hands lifting as if to ward them off. There were faces that were blurred and voices that screamed in his ears. But some of them whispered, and Robin felt a shiver ripple through him. He saw himself in a field, but where there should have been green grass and flowers, there were bodies scattered about. And blood flowed over his feet like a river. Then there was a man with silver hair. He shimmered with white-light and his eyes glittered. He raised one hand and from it lightning shot, striking Robin in the chest. He cried out.
"Robin....wake up. It's just a dream."
The voice was familiar, belonging to Friar Tuck. He sat on the edge of Robin's bed, his arms around the other man who trembled violently.
"A dream..." Robin whispered, as he pulled away from Tuck. He took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. Dreams couldn't hurt him. He knew that. Yet, Robin heard the echo of laughter in his head. Cold, wicked, laughter and he shivered once more. It had been more than a dream, he was sure of it. But he made himself smile as he faced his friend. "I'm sorry, Tuck," Robin said softly, as he tossed aside the blankets and slid off the bed. Once he was standing he tucked his hair behind his ears and went to the window. The moon was shining brightly. "Must have been something I ate," Robin whispered.
"You didn't eat," Tuck reminded him. He realized that, in this moment, Robin was back to his..adult...self. But he wanted to be sure. "Um...Robin...do you remember the food fight?" Tuck questioned, joining the young man at the window.
Robin frowned. "Food fight?" he echoed, then shook his head, making his hair fall forward over his face again. Just then Robin realized he didn't even know where they were. "Tuck...where are we?" he queried.
Tuck sighed. "Oh boy." One arm went about Robin's shoulders. "I think we need to talk," he said softly, then he went on to explain about Geoffrey, fishing, the food fight and bath time. "When you went to bed you were acting like a ten year old, Robin," Tuck said in conclusion. "You must be under some spell. Any idea who might have done it...or why?"
"No," Robin confessed with a sigh. "But...I think it has something to do with my dreams. I heard her laughing."
"Heard who laughing?" Tuck prompted, a frown marring his brow. He could sense that Robin was distracted, and worried. He was worried as well.
Robin brought himself back to the moment. His thoughts had been drifting as he tried to remember the dreams. "I don't know who," he said in response to Tuck's question. "I definitely don't know why. What would be the point of making me revert back to childhood?" The moment he asked the question, Robin had a flash of memory. Of two witches, one blond and one red-haired. Winnefred and Hester. He and Little John had dumped them in their cauldron and they had both perished. And good riddance, for they had tried to enslave Little John. "Something to do with the witches," Robin whispered to himself.
Tuck tapped Robin on the shoulder. "What witches?" he prompted, having heard his friend.
"From the Abbey," Robin replied. "I think this has something to do with the witches from Kirksley Abbey." At Tuck's hopeful look, Robin shook his head. "I have no idea what," he confessed.
"Something to do with your Aunt?" Tuck ventured. He knew that there was no love lost between Robin and Alice. Especially since Robin had made his aunt turn over her fortune to him.
Robin sighed again. "I don't know. Maybe," he allowed. "But I don't think she has that kind of power."
Tuck grimaced. "She enslaved Little John," he reminded his friend.
"Good point," Robin conceded. He combed his fingers through his hair then dropped his chin in his palm. "Maybe this is Aunt Alice's means of revenge. But...what does it prove?" That's what bothered Robin the most.
"So far it's proved that you were a precocious child," Tuck offered, attempting to lighten up the moment. He succeeded and was pleased to see Robin's dimpled grin. "We've got a few hours before daylight," Tuck said softly. "Let's try and get some more sleep."
Robin shook his head. "I can't sleep just yet. I'm gonna go for a walk." He patted Tuck's shoulder, then stepped around the Friar to snatch up his boots. "I'll be fine," Robin assured his friend, as he stamped his feet into the brown, leather boots, then headed for the door.
Tuck nodded, but he was worried. "Don't be long," he cautioned. The Friar knew he wouldn't be able to sleep till Robin returned, safe and sound.
"I won't," Robin promised, then he was gone.
The night air was cool, but comfortable, and Robin was warm enough for his pace was brisk. He by passed the road and cut across the fields, heading east, towards the soon to be rising sun. Instinct pulled him in this direction, though Robin knew not why. Two hours passed when he reached a ridge. Standing on top of it, Robin gazed out at that horizon. The sky was shading to gray and Robin sensed that there was something out there. Something evil.
"Never doubt your instincts," rumbled a deep voice.
Robin whirled around to see Olwyn standing there. "What are you doing here?" he asked his mentor.
Olwyn sighed. "I came to warn you, Robin," he said softly. Of the danger that comes."
"What danger?" Robin prompted, his eyes shifting back to the horizon. He sensed Olwyn moving to join him.
"Lord Drako," the ancient magician replied. "He's a Warlord and has a powerful army. They have never been beaten Robin. They have both skills and black magic empowering them."
Robin suppressed a shiver. "What does Lord Drako want?"
Olwyn's eyes glittered. "He has come to join forces with Prince John. And if that is allowed to happen, England will fall to the Normans. Not even you would be able to stop the slaughter of the Saxons, Robin."
"Then the union between Drako and Prince John must not be allowed to happen," Robin hissed. He faced his teacher. "Tell me what I must do, Olwyn."
"King Richard gave you a ring," Olwyn replied. "The emerald one with the Dragon seal. Do you remember it?"
Robin nodded. "Yes. I hid it." He frowned. "Why?"
Olwyn resisted the urge to heave a sigh of relief. "You must retrieve the ring, Robin, and show it to Lord Drako, before he reaches Prince John. The ring is the proof Drako will need that King Richard is still in power here."
"But....it'll take me over a day to get to the ring," Robin protested.
"Then you must hurry," Olwyn advised. With that he shimmered back into light and faded away.
Robin sighed. "I hate it when you do that," he hissed. The sky had lightened
and when he stared out at the horizon, Robin could see a long, black column
moving towards the south. He knew that it was Lord Drako and his men. "Great,"
Robin muttered. Then he turned and headed back to the Inn.
From the shadows Liesel watched. She knew that Robin had forgotten about the spell. But she hadn't. He had strong powers of his own, this Robin Hood, for his unique magic had overcome her spell. But only temporarily. Liesel whispered an incantation then she threw back her head and laughed.
As Robin ran, he heard the echo of laughter in on the wind and it made
him shiver. But then he ignored it, for it mattered not. Nothing mattered
except stopping Lord Drako from reaching Prince John and starting a war
that would shatter all of England.
Friar Tuck was awake, and standing at the window of his room when he saw Robin racing across the fields towards the Inn. He sensed that something was terribly wrong, so he awakened Little John then went down the hall to rouse Marion. The three of them met Robin as he reached the Inn.
Tuck had told Marion and Little John that Robin was back to being an adult, so Marion was relieved on that level. But she was concerned when she saw the look on Robin's beautiful face. "What is it?" she asked, fearing the worst.
"Trouble," Robin replied. Then he bent over, hands braced on his knees, as he caught his breath. A moment later he told them about Olwyn's appearance and the march of Lord Drake and his troops towards Prince John's Castle. Robin also explained about the ring from King Richard and how he had hidden it.
"Where?" Little John prompted.
Robin grimaced. "Glengarry Falls," he replied, and nodded when the others moaned. "It's a long ride, but I'll make it," Robin vowed.
Little John patted Robin's shoulder. "We'll...make it," he countered firmly. He wasn't about to let his best friend face danger alone.
"All of us will go," Marion declared.
"All but Tuck," Robin replied, then he turned to the Friar. "You have to go on ahead to the wedding," he said softly. "You can't disappoint Elaina."
Tuck nodded, knowing that Robin was right. "Be careful, my friends," he beseeched them all. "God speed."
Robin smiled. "And to you." He faced the others and said, "Let's get the
horses and ride." With that he was off and running towards the stables.
"Why Glengarry Falls?" Marion inquired, as she moved her mount beside Robin's. They were moving at a walk for a few miles, to rest the horses.
"I hid the ring there because I knew it would be safe. It's in a place no one would ever find," Robin confessed, grinning over at Marion. "I used to sneak out and play there as a child and it's like my secret place. Still is."
Little John moved up on Robin's other side. "I take it then that you're not going to tell us where your hiding place is?" He countered, teasingly.
Robin almost stuck his tongue out the giant, but decided it would only make them nervous. They would believe he had reverted back to childhood once again. "You wouldn't be able to find it even if I did tell you," Robin replied.
"Why not?" Marion prompted, her curiosity piqued.
"Well...it's not so much in a specific place as it's in a...place," Robin replied, then he laughed as he realized he wasn't explaining himself very well. "You have to go inside the falls, and then there's a chamber..and within the chamber is a hiding place. But you have to take certain measures to get to it. I kinda booby trapped it."
Little John was impressed. "I can't wait to see it. So..Robin..how do you go inside the falls?"
Robin scratched his chin. "You swim, Little John," he replied, then he laughed at the expression on his friend's face. "You'll see," Robin said softly. Then he squinted at the sun overhead. "We need to move faster." And so saying, Robin spurred his stallion into a gallop, and raced away.
They were three quarters of the way to the falls when night fell, and it shrouded them so that they had no choice but to make camp. Marion convinced Robin that it was for the best that they rest. The horses in particular needed the break. That way they would all make better time come dawn.
Robin knew that Marion was right. So he gave no argument but settled down on his bedroll, ate the bread and cheese that Little John gave him, swallowed it down with water then curled up on his side. He was instantly, and deeply, asleep. So much so that Robin didn't stir when Marion covered him with a blanket then smoothed back his hair.
"He's exhausted," Marion said softly, as she joined Little John by the fire.
"Robin hasn't slept much in the past few days," Little John allowed. He was sharpening Robin's dagger on a stone, then wiping down the blade with a soft cloth. Robin always said that Little John gave his blade the sharpest edge and Little John was proud of that fact. But his mind was filled with shadows tonight. "Do you think we'll make it back in time to stop Lord Drako?" Little John asked Marion.
She tossed some branches on the fire before answering. "I know we will, Little John," Marion declared, firmly. "Robin is the Chosen One. The man who will save England. If Lord Drake joined with Prince John and they started a war, England would fall. That's not gonna happen. Robin won't let it."
Little John felt comforted by Marion's words. He knew, from past experiences, that Robin always seemed able to do the impossible. Miracles and magic happened around the legend of Sherwood. "Well...goodnight then," Little John said, as he put aside the dagger and stone, and stretched out on his bedroll.
"Goodnight, Little John," Marion whispered. She heard his breathing change and knew that he was asleep. But she wasn't ready to give in to slumber yet. So Marion sat with her blanket wrapped around her shoulders, and her eyes locked on Robin's face. He looked young and at peace, and the sight of him filled her with hope. Marion knew that they would succeed on their quest. Nothing could stop them. And, with that thought in mind, she finally laid down and went to sleep.
End of Chapter Four
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