By Shelly Quinn
"There must be a shortcut," Marion declared, as she and Kemal paused in their journey to water the horses. Instinct told her that Robin was in need of her, and she was frustrated that she was still so far away.
Kemal studied the beautiful, young woman, seeing the concern that shimmered in her eyes. He knew of her feelings for Robin, and understood, for he had loved once…but she was gone from him forever. Banishing the memory of doe eyes and a sweet smile, Kemal placed a hand on Marion’s shoulder. "We’ll make it in time," He said firmly. "Robin can take care of himself, and his friends. He’ll be okay till we arrive."
Marion nodded, wanted desperately to believe Kemal. His words were true, she knew, for Robin seemed to be blessed. He would be fine, as would Friar Tuck and Little John. Still, Marion’s anxiety refused to leave her. She shaded her eyes and tracked the countryside. If only Robin were here now, she thought. He would know a quicker way.
From high above came a squawk, then a shadow took form and swooped over head. Gliding downward, and winging between Marion and Kemal. They stared at the hawk. It was the same one that had delivered Olwyn’s message.
"Look," Marion cried out, pointing to the hawk, as it glided in a half circle, then headed south. "I think it wants us to follow it."
"The short cut you asked for?" Kemal questioned, even as he mounted his horse.
Marion smiled as she did the same. "I wouldn’t put it past Olwyn," She allowed. "Come on!" Digging her heels into her horse’s flank, Marion galloped off after the hawk.
As Robin was led by Fengali, into an immense chamber, he stared about in stunned disbelief. What had once been a dreary castle was now bright, colorful, and beautiful beyond belief. Everywhere he looked, Robin saw rich tapestries, silks, crystal and gold. An excess of decadence that could not be ignored.
"Come," Fengali encouraged, as he took Robin’s arm and led him forward. Before them was a large dais, draped with white silk, and ensconced on giant, satin, pillows were a man and a woman. He was dressed in cream and gold, she was in gold and sapphire. "The Sultan Yazid and his lady the Sultana Lylah," Fengali announce as they reached the bottom of the stairs. He smiled at his master and mistress, then gestured to the man beside him. "I bring you a precious gift, my lord and lady," Fengali drawled. "This one is called Robin Hood."
The Sultana set aside the grapes she had been eating and leaned forward, her dark eyes flashing with delight as she studied the new slave. With a wave of one, slender, hand she gestured him forward. ‘Come Robin Hood," she ordered.
Gritting his teeth to swallow back a reply, Robin did as he was told, nudged forward by Fengali. He climbed the steps until he stood before the woman, and noted that she was truly beautiful. Hip-length, black hair framed an exotic face, and her lush body was revealed by the jeweled bodice and veiled skirt that she wore. As to remain utterly still, a smile on his face. He would not betray his true feelings. That he felt like a pretty object whose sole purpose was to be admired.
"Beautiful…" The Sultana whispered, rising to her feet." She went to Robin and let her fingertips glide over his chest, loving the feel of smooth skin over hard muscle. Then her fingers glided over his arms, pausing to squeeze his rock-hard biceps, then across his collarbone and along the line of his strong jaw. A moment later they traced his sensual mouth, then tangled in his glorious hair.
"Rather touch-feely, aren’t we?" Robin drawled, unable to resist the comment when one of the Sultana’s hands strayed to brush lower across his body. A moment later Robin bit his lip as she pinched his buttocks.
The Sultana laughed with delight as she watched a red-flush stain Robin’s face. "You are magnificent," she whispered, her lips a breath away from his. Then she kissed him, she moaned in ecstacy, as she tasted his sweetness.
Fengali was standing close by, his eyes never leaving Robin, so he sensed when the other man was about to lose control. Before Robin could react, Fengali stepped forward. To address the Sultan. "My Lord," he said, bowing his head in respect. ‘Do I please you with this…gift?"
"Indeed Fengali," the Sultan replied. He was amused by his wife’s obvious interest in the young slave. Yazid was no longer young and he was very fat. He adored surrounding himself with things of beauty, but his first love was food, not sex. So he was happy to let Lylah indulge her desires elsewhere. Besides which, she had fulfilled her wifely duties to him, six years ago, by bearing him a son. Nowadays, the Sultan garnered more pleasure from watching her mate with beautiful young men. Usually slaves. But none so beautiful as the one who stood before them. "I am very pleased with this slave," Yazid confessed, glancing over to his wife. "Do you not agree, my dear?"
"I do," Lylah drawled, after breaking the kiss and stepping away from Robin to face her husband. She smiled and pronounced, "I wish to bed him now."
Robin’s mouth dropped open and he closed it with a snap. He stared about him, at the guards lining the walls, and the servants who brought food and wine to the Sultan and his wife. There were dancing girls, musicians and other slaves to entertain. Glancing over at Fengali, Robin knew that he was truly trapped. But not yet defeated. "Good things come to those who wait!" Robin proclaimed, a smile curving his lips as he moved to confront the Sultan. "Don’t you wish to know more about your…slave?" he challenged.
The Sultan shrugged. "I suppose," he allowed, deciding that it might be amusing.
"I am, by birth, an English Lord," Robin confessed, then he laughed. "But…these days I am considered an outlaw. Others call me thief."
"Thief?" the Sultana echoed, silvery laughter bubbling out of her. Robin looked more like a prince than a thief, and she said as much.
He offered her a courtly bow and replied, "But I am the Prince of thieves, milady, Shall I demonstrate?" At her nod, Robin focused his concentration and a moment later was free of the cords that had bound his wrists. "Thank you, Olwyn," Robin whispered to himself, before laughing at the stunned expressions on the faces of his captive audience. He then leaped forward and snatched the ruby broach from off the Sultan’ turban. Robin then turned and ran to the edge of the stairs where he did a somersault in the air to the bottom, landing lightly on his feet. "I steal from the rich…and give to the poor," he shouted, running over to one of the servants and handing the girl the ruby.
When several of the guards moved forward to confront Robin, the Sultan waved them back. He was highly entertained. "What else can you do, Robin Hood?" Yazid challenged.
"I can fight for the lives…and the freedom…of the innocent," Robin replied, solemnly. He glanced over at Fengali and saw the other man clearly understood his message. But it was lost ion the Sultan and his wife.
"Do more tricks," Lylah beseeched him, her dark eyes glittering with lust as they roamed over Robin’s bulging biceps. And she loved the way his hair flowed about his face like silk. Wild tendrils clinging to his neck.
Robin shook his head. "I don’t do tricks," he snarled.
The Sultana smiled, finding Robin’s fury as desirable as his smile. She sensed that he would be a passionate lover and she no longer wished to wait. Waving one hand she called to her guards. "Take Robin Hood to my bedchamber," Lylah ordered.
"I will do the honor, mistress," Fengali declared, stepping forward to take Robin by the arm. His eyes flashed a warning to the young man, reminding him to behave. Fengali nearly sighed with relief when he felt the tension leave Robin’s muscles. Now he waited for approval.
"Take him, Fengali," the Sultan decreed. "Lylah and I will soon follow."
Fengali bowed to them, "As you wish, my lord." Another bow, then he turned and led Robin away. "Bide your time," Fengali whispered in the other man’s ear.
Robin frowned. "What do you mean?" he whispered back, but Fengali didn’t answer him, he merely tightened his grip on Robin’s arm and hurried him along.
End of Chapter Four
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