CHILD'S  PLAY

By Shelly Quinn
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Chapter Six

Olwyn found Liesel's lair. She wasn't very original in her hiding place, most probably because she didn't figure on anyone looking for her. She screeched when Olwyn suddenly appeared before her.

"Who are you?" Liesel demanded, as she glared at the man with silver-white hair and wearing burnt orange robes with black trim. That he was a sorcerer she knew, but that was all.

"Who I am is unimportant," Olwyn drawled, his pale eyes gleaming. "Remove your spell from Robin Hood," he demanded, his voice rumbling like thunder.

Liesel burst out laughing. "Not in a million years," she replied. "Robin Hood killed my sister and he will pay."

Olwyn's eyes flashed. "It is all of England who will pay," he roared. "There will be a war to end all wars if Robin Hood doesn't stop Lord Drako. Is that what you want?"

"Indeed I do," Liesel hissed. "Robin Hood, the legend, will be destroyed. He will blamed for the ruin of England. A just reward for killing my sister."

"Winifred brought about her own demise," Olwyn shot back. "Remove your spell or I will send you into oblivion." It was not an idle threat and Olwyn raised his staff letting Liesel see the power that cracked from the globe on the end of it.

She smiled at the sorcerer, unafraid. Liesel had faith in her own powers of destruction. "Give it your best shot!" she challenged, then she raised one hand and fire shot from her palm.

Olwyn met her fire with his own and they crackled as they met, charging the air and stirring up a mighty wind. Power danced about causing items to burst into flame or explode as it hit them, and the air grew dark. But neither one gave an inch. But Liesel's power was forged by vengeance and that was her weakness as well. Olwyn's power was the virtue of his moral integrity. The same power that was the essence of Robin Hood. And it was that power that would be Liesel's downfall. Her darkness could not shatter the light of righteousness. And so it was that his fire pierced through Liesel's dark flames and slammed into her. Her body lit up, shuddered, then collapsed. As Olwyn stared down at her, she disintegrated into fine ash.

"It is done," Olwyn whispered, his tone colored by regret. He hadn't wanted to destroy Liesel, but she had left him no choice. Now he faded out to return to Sherwood. The spell was broken, and now it was up to Robin to do what he did best. To save the England and her people. Both the good, and the bad.
 
 

Little John and Marion looked about the cave, searching for Robin. They were becoming frantic when Little John just happened to look up, and when he did so his heart leapt into his throat. The cavern was small, but the top of it was a good fifty feet high. And making his way over a rope strung from one stalactite to another was Robin. "Marion.." Little John whispered, as he tapped her arm and pointed. He whispered because he didn't want to break Robin's concentration.

"Oh my god!" Marion hissed, but she kept her voice hushed as well. She wanted to call out to Robin but realized how dangerous that would be, so she held her breath. He was halfway across the rope, which led to a second level that appeared to circumference half of the chamber. It wasn't very wide, but appeared sturdy enough. So long as Robin could reach it without falling. If he took a tumble he would surely die since he was a good forty feet off the ground and below him was jagged rock.

Unaware of the anxiety that his friends were suffering through, Robin continued crossing the tightrope, his concentration focused on each step. Once he had reached the other side, he laughed to himself, feeling a sense of satisfaction.

"ROBIN!"

He turned at the sound of his name and gazed down. Robin waved to Marion and Little John. "Be down in a second," he told them.

Marion was furious, and worried. She didn't think she could handle watching Robin cross the tightrope again. Yet she didn't see any other way down. "Robin...what are you doing up there?" she called out to him.

"Getting the ring," he replied, as he leaned over the edge and offered a dimpled grin. For the most part, Robin thought it was a rather silly question.

"The ring?" Little John countered. "Robin...you remember the ring?"

Robin frowned at his big friend. "Of course I remember, Little John," he replied. "Why wouldn't I?"

In that moment Marion knew that the spell was broken. She smiled at Little John. "Olwyn succeeded," she whispered. There was no sense in trying to explain it to Robin. The last time he had reverted to childhood he hadn't remembered doing so and there was no reason to think he would do so now. "Where is the ring?" Marion asked.

"In a little cubby hole," Robin replied. "Be right back," he shouted, then he disappeared. A moment later he returned and waved his hand. The dragon ring was on his finger. "Look out below!" Robin advised, as he ran back to the tightrope.

"Be careful, Robin," Marion beseeched him, her heart in her throat once again.

Robin laughed. "Don't worry, Marion," he beseeched. He knelt down to untie the end of the rope, the he grasped it's thickness with both hands. A moment late he was leaping off the edge and swinging down towards the ground. Once he was over the stretch of jagged rock, Robin released the rope coming to land, solidly, on his feet. "Now that was fun!" he enthused.

Little John ran over to him. "Very clever, Robin," he said, and it was a sincere compliment. "But why the tightrope?"

"Remember how I told you I had booby trapped the chamber?" Robin replied. When Little John nodded, he continued. "Well...the only way to avoid the traps and reach the ring was by crossing the tightrope. There' no other way up there."

"But..how did you get down the first time?" Marion inquired, as she studied the second level. She could see that Robin was correct. But if he couldn't get up there any other way, then he wouldn't have been able to get down either.

Robin smiled at her. "That's a secret," he replied, and dimples appeared in his cheeks when Marion glared at him. Leaning in to press his lips to Marion's ear, Robin whispered, "Some day...I'll tell you," he promised.

Little John was getting anxious. "It's getting late," he reminded his friends. "We have to stop Lord Drako."

"You're right, Little John," Robin replied, his smile fading. "Come on," he urged his companions, as he headed back out the way they had come.
 
 

By riding hell-bent for leather and using several shortcuts, Robin, Marion and Little John were able to cut Lord Drako and his troops off, just as they crossed the border out of Sherwood Forest and into Prince John's lands.

Robin kept his sword sheathed on his back, and gestured for Marion and Little John to fall back, as he faced Lord Drako. "I'm Robin Hood!" he announced.

"Do you plan to rob me?" Lord Drako queried, a smile of amusement twisting his thin lips.

"No...I plan on stopping your union with Prince John," Robin replied. His smile was cold as well as he took in the measure of the man before him. Lord Drako was thick bodied, with gray hair close cropped on his head, pale eyes and a scar slashing over his right cheek. But, for all that, Robin sensed that he was a fair man. Warlord he might be, but he did not strike Robin as being unjustly cruel. "King Richard is the rightful ruler of England, and I am here, in his name, to ask that you turn back, Lord Drako," Robin declared.

Lord Drako was impressed by Robin's courage, and he sensed a fellow Warrior, albeit the young man's soul was far more pure and his cause more just. Still, Drako was willing to hear him out, if only for the entertainment value. "And why should I believe the word of an outlaw, Robin Hood?" he challenged.

Robin smiled. "Believe the sign of the King," he beseeched, raising his right hand to show off the emerald ring with the dragon seal that circled his middle finger.

"The dragon!" Lord Drako hissed. He guided his horse forward till he was beside Robin, then he grasped the young man's wrist so that he could inspect the ring. And, in doing so, he also spotted the dragon symbol that was burned into Robin's forearm. "How come you by this ring?" Drako demanded.

"By the grace of King Richard," Robin replied. "He trusted me with it's safekeeping."

Drako nodded, believing it to be so. "And well chosen, Robin Hood," he acknowledged. "Do you know the history of the ring?" he questioned.

Robin shook his head. "No."

"I gave it to Richard," Drako replied, then he laughed at the look of surprise on Robin's face. "Five and twenty years ago," he continued. "When we were young men, and friends."

"What happened?" Little John interjected, unable to help himself. His curiosity had gotten the better of him.

Lord Drako didn't mind the question. "Richard and I chose different paths," he replied. Then he smiled at Robin. "My men and I will turn back," he declared. "I am certain now that King Richard will stay in power, so long as you have anything to say about it....Robin Hood." And, with that, Drako signaled to his troops to return the way they had come.

Marion heaved a sigh of relief as she joined Robin. "That was too close for comfort," she said softly.

"Just a bit," Robin acknowledged. He was relieved that it had gone so well, for he had fully expected a battle from Lord Drako. Now, glancing up at the sun, Robin came to a realization that he shared with his friends. "If we ride hard, we just might make the wedding," he stated.

"I'm game," Little John replied. He loved weddings. Good food and ale, pretty girls and beautiful music. All a man needed to make him happy.

Marion nodded. "Let's go."

Robin laughed then touched his heel's to his stallion's flanks. "Hiya!" he shouted, and then they were off.
 
 

Tuck was just declaring his goddaughter to be married when he caught site of Robin, Little John and Marion joining the wedding crowd. Smiling, Tuck made the pronouncement, watched the newly married couple kiss, then bid the onlookers to wish the new couple congratulations. As Elaina and her husband were surrounded, Tuck made his way over to his friends. He stared hard at Robin who grinned back at him. "You're..okay?" Tuck asked.

"Perfect," Robin replied, a dimple appearing in his cheek. "Alls well that ends well, my friend," he drawled, clapping the Friar on the shoulder.

"You stopped Drako," Tuck guessed, even as he spotted the ring on Robin's finger. When the young man nodded, Tuck glanced over at Marion and Little John, knowing they would be the ones to answer his next question. "Any...trouble?"

Marion shrugged. "Nothing we couldn't handle," she replied. Someday she would tell Tuck the story of seeing Robin acting like a five year old. But not today. She looked over at the married couple. "They look happy."

Tuck nodded, beaming. "They're so in love," he gushed, then he blinked back a tear. Weddings always made him weep.

"Why don't we go offer our congratulations?" Robin suggested. He was about to head off when he stopped and did an about face. "Oops..almost forget," he said, grinning. As his friends watched, Robin ran to his horse and rummaged in the saddle bag. A moment later he returned, two silver goblets in his hands. "The wedding gift," he announced.

"They're beautiful," Marion breathed as she took one to inspect it. It had a heart etched into it with Elaina's name scrolled in the center. The other goblet bore Clarence's name. Marion was touched by Robin's thoughtfulness, but not surprised. He was always thinking of others.

Robin was pleased by Marion's reaction for tucked away, in his quarters back in Sherwood, were another pair of goblets, made of gold, bearing their names. Someday he hoped to present them to her. But that was a thought for another day. Reclaiming the goblets, Robin strode off towards the bride and groom.
 
 

After the wedding feast, there was music and dancing. Robin and Marion had danced a few times and now were standing on the sidelines with Tuck and Little John. A group of children ran past them, engaged in a game of tag. Robin broke away from his friends to join them. "Can I play?" he asked the children.

In answer, the boy who was *it* tagged Robin. Marion exchanged horrified glances with Tuck and Little John. Apparently Olwyn hadn't been successful after all. The spell hadn't been broken. She was about to chase after Robin when he appeared before her. She jumped when he tapped her on the arm.

"You're IT!" Robin shouted.

"Robin..." Marion began, believing that she would have to reason with him. But then she noticed the wicked glint sparkling in his brown eyes and she knew she had been had. "Oh...YOU!" Marion hissed. She grabbed for Robin but he ran off, taunting her to follow him. And Marion did so, suddenly willing to play the game.

The children laughed as they watched the two adults race across the meadow. Tuck and Little John laughed as well, clinging to each other as they doubled over with merriment.

"It's good...to have Robin...back....to normal.." Tuck gasped, between laughs.

Little John simply nodded, then he ran off to join in the fun. After a moment's hesitation, Tuck followed. It did a person good not to lose touch with the child inside.
 
 

THE END

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Chapter One
 Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six

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