By Virginia Cavazos
Ian searched around the courtyard. He no longer saw the campfires of the crusades. Jack and Clarence were not in sight. He was back home, in his England!
He was in the courtyard of his own castle. Men were hiding behind haystacks and barrels. As he looked about, he spied the man known as Robert of Locksley. He smiled to himself, closing his eyes in bliss, he softly sighed, "I remember!"
Two of the Lords men held Robin fast. They had him gagged and bound, he would be unable to warn his people. Robins deep brown eyes were pleading with Ian. Ian bowed his head in shame. This noble man was about to see his men killed before him. The Lord of Dukesbury wanted to make Ian the instrument of his friend’s death.
"They come!" a cry came from the wall. The man ran back to hide with the others. Dukesbury stayed by Robin’s side. He relished the Idea of Robin witnessing the death of his companions. Ian would not let that happen to this brave man. He drew his sword from its scabbard. For the first time since his return to his homeland, his eyes were clear and sane.
Eric was the first to notice it. The Duke ordered his men to hold him near the doorway, that led into the castle. Eric saw the father he knew, before he left for the crusades. The one that he loved so dearly as a young boy. Ian spied his oldest son, he was so grown up now…a man. He winked at Eric and smiled. Eric closed his eyes in thanks. His father had returned from the crusades - at last.
Ian raised his sword above his head. He let out a cry of warning, yelling, "Invaders in the castle!"
The element of surprise was gone, Robins men were now warned. Dukesbury men ran towards Ian. Ian set himself. It had been a long time since he battled.
This was going to be fun!
Marion took the lead, as they dismounted. Nick wanted to run ahead, but Little John kept him back with him. They headed towards a break in the wall. The area around them was quiet. They saw none of Dukesburys men the ride there. They were at the outskirts of the castle when they heard a cry come from inside.
"Invaders in the castle!"
Nick bolted from Little John’s grip. "That’s my father!" he cried out. They quickly ran after Nick.
The courtyard was in chaos. Several of the men ran to the hole to stop Robin’s people. The remaining attacked Ian. Robin pulled at the men that held him. Ian wouldn’t stand a chance alone. He needed his help.
Ian met the Lords men as a true Knight of King Richard. He held his sword tight in his hands. Defending himself against the less experienced fighters. He was the superior combatant here, and he knew it! Lord Dukesbury headed back to the castle, leaving Robin’s side. Coward that he was, he fled from the fighting.
Outside Little John and the others, were met by Dukesbury men. They poured
out of the hole. Marion pulled her whip out. Pulling back on it, she flung
it forward, hitting a man on the hand. He dropped a knife that he was preparing
to fling towards Little John. Nick pulled out his small bow. Setting an arrow,
he shot at one of the marauders. He was able to hit one in the knee. The
man cried out in pain, clutching his knee. Nick jumped up in the air.
"I got one!" he yelled out. Grinning from ear to ear he let off a volley of shots, hitting the men in tender areas. "This is fun!" he laughed.
Back in the courtyard, things did not looking good for Ian. He managed
to injure quite a few of the invaders, but he was losing ground. Soon they
would have him trapped. Robin twisted in the grip of the men that held
him. He had to help Ian. One of the men pulled his fist back. He intended
to hit Robin, to settle him down. Instead, he was suddenly flung back,
into the air.
"Nice hit Clarence!" Robin heard someone shout.
The other man was jerked away from Robin. He doubled over in pain, as he flung in the air, to the other side.
"Good one Mark!" another voice said, with a chuckle.
Robin spun around, there was no one here. Suddenly he felt a cold chill, as he could feel someone behind him, cutting the bonds that held his hands. As his hands were released, Robin felt the hilt of a sword slapped into his palm. Bringing his hands forward, he held a sword in his hands. A cool breeze blew at his ear. "Help our Ian…Robin Hood," he could swear, he heard a voice softly sigh.
Robin didn’t hesitate. As he ran off towards Ian, he could hear laughter coming from behind.
"Just like Ian. Wanting to do all the fighting for himself."
Robin glanced back. Just for just a split second, he could swear he saw two knights from the crusades, dressed in full battle gear. One man was leaning on the other. They both winked at him. Shaking his head, the apparitions were suddenly gone. Robin took it all in stride. Stranger things had happened to him before. For now, he had to turn his attention to Ian.
Robin flew to Ian. He was being pushed back towards the portcullis. Coming from behind, Robin rushed into the attack. He thrust his sword into the back of one invader. As he fell the others were warned of his presence. Half of the men pressed the attack on Ian, while the other half, concentrated on Robin.
Outside of the castle, Little John managed to lift one of the Lords men off the ground. Raising the man over his head, he threw him into three other men. All fell to the ground. Kemal ran towards the hole in the castle wall. He whirled around in the air, using his feet to injure any in his way. He made it to the hole first. Diving in, he quickly searched for Robin. He knew he would be easy to find. He just searched for where the fighting was.
Sure enough, there he was, battling alongside a Knight. Kemal rushed over to assist him.
Robin was having a hard time defending himself. That last hit to the ribs kept him in constant pain now. He tried to block it out, but was unable to. As he fought on, he noticed Dukesbury standing next to Eric. Someone had to get to Eric, before the Lord used him against his father. He spied Kemal running towards him.
"Kemal!" Robin shouted. "Save that boy first!"
Kemal skidded to a stop. He whirled around, looking in the direction that Robin pointed to. There was a young man, gagged and tied up. Standing next to him was a very pompous looking, small man. Kemal guessed him to be Lord Dukesbury. He ran through the courtyard to assist the boy. The Lord was concerned with the battle fought between Robin and his men, he never noticed Kemal coming his way.
Dukesbury noticed that the tide of the battle seemed to be flowing in Ian’s direction. He had to do something FAST, to change that. Pulling out a dagger, he handed it to the man that held Eric. Time to use the young man again, he thought. Before his guard grabbed it, the blade flew out of the hands of the Lord, as a dark streak came between them. Kemal jumped up. Whirling around He brought his hands out, slamming them into the man holding Eric. Gasping in pain, the man released Eric. Kemal pulled Eric to stand behind him. They backed up. Kemal keeping guard over the young man.
Robin sighed in relief. Now that Eric was safe, they had to finish off the Lords men. He was forced to back up the stairway. He climbed up the crumbling stairs, as four men followed him. Glancing to the side, he was able to observe Ian defeating the last of his opponents. Searching on the other side, he saw Little John and Marion making their way through the hole in the side of the castle wall. Nick jumped through after them. All had been able to defeat their opponents. Even the Lord lay unconscious at Kemal’s feet. Only Robin’s antagonists remained. As he fought on, he could hear Little John laughing.
"Come on Robin, can’t you take care of four men?"
Marion sarcastically called out. "I think he’s getting old."
"It’s not that easy!" Robin panted back. His side ached. The pain was becoming excruciating, but he couldn’t let his adversaries know this.
Marion was the first to notice that something was wrong with Robin. His moves were sluggish. She could see the pain deeply etched in his eyes. Ian was the first to react to it. He bounded up the stairs, taking out the last man. With the three remaining men sandwiched between them, Robin and Ian then made short work of them. When the last man fell from the stairs. Robin closed his eyes in relief.
He slowly walked down the stairs. Dragging his sword behind him on the steps. As he reached the last step, he plopped down, hanging his head down in total exhaustion. Marion ran to his side. Squatting in front of him, she brushed a lock of hair away from his face.
"Are you all right?" she softly asked. Her deep concern lacing her voice.
Robin raised his head. A dimpled smile blessing his face. "What took you so long?" Marion angrily slapped him on the side. He grimaced as he clutched it.
"You are hurt!" she cried out. "Tuck, quickly come here!"
Tuck immediately ran to Robin. Nick flew to Eric. Kemal was already untying the young mans hands. As Eric pulled the gag out, he smiled down at his younger brother.
"Nick," he whispered, "Fathers back."
Nick turned to look up at the stranger that came home from the crusades. He was striding across the courtyards. His arms outstretched to his boys. Eric immediately ran into his father’s arms. Ian held on tight to his oldest boy. As he broke his hold, he looked to Nick. He was staring at his father with questioning eyes. He couldn’t remember his father like Eric did. The only father he knew was the crazy one. The one his friends made fun of.
"Nicholas, come to me." Ian squatted down, holding his hands out. Nick ran to his father. Leaping into his arms, he knocked him down. Ian wrapped his arms around his youngest son. Together they rolled on the ground, laughing and hugging. Tears flowed out of all the Richard’s men’s eyes. Tuck assisted Robin to stand.
"I believe he has broken ribs," Tuck announced. "They appear to have been well taken care of. With a few weeks rest, he should be right as rain."
"Robin, I swear..." Marion began. Robin brought his hand up hushing her.
"Marion, don’t even say it." A half smile creased Marion’s face. Leaning into Robin, she gave him a warm kiss on the cheek. "I just wanted to say, I missed you." she whispered.
"I missed you too," he whispered back.
Marion tried to assist him across the courtyard, but Robin, being Robin, insisted he was fine. Ian was rising, with Nick in his arms, when Robin and his people came up to him.
Eric was proudly standing next to his father. Nick was hanging behind Ian. His hands laced around his father’s neck.
"How can I ever thank you Robert of Locksley?"
Robin brought his hand out to shake Ian’s. "Knowing that Ian Richard’s is back from the crusades, is thanks enough for me." Robin warmly said. As Ian returned Robins shake, he glanced at the dark man that stood before him. It brought bad memories to him, of the slaughter that fateful day. Robin noticed the stares.
"Ian, this is Kemal. He saved your boy Eric."
Ian looked at his oldest son. Eric confirmed what Robin had said. He walked up to Kemal. Bringing his hand out, Kemal took it. Ian shook it warmly.
"I thank you for saving my sons life."
"You are welcome," Kemal returned.
As Ian shook Kemal’s hand, he noticed the sword that Robin still carried. Ian shrugged his shoulders, knocking Nick off. He then reached for the sword that Robin held.
"Where did you get this sword?" Ian asked in amazement.
"I found it," Robin lied. He really didn’t know what else to tell him.
Ian rolled the swords handle in his hands. His eyes began to water.
"What is it Ian?" Robin asked.
"This is a sword from my old battalion."
Ian closed his eyes in pain. "Clarence…Mark," he sighed. The two boys froze as their father mentioned the names of his dead comrades. He opened his eyes. The sorrow overflowed in them. "I shall miss them dearly." His voice broke with the words.
Eric placed a consoling hand on his father’s shoulder. Ian brought his hand up, squeezing the younger mans. Eric breathed a sigh of relief, his father was home now.
"We’ll help you to clean up things here Ian," Robin offered.
Ian gave a small bow. "I thank you Robert of Locksley."
"I go by Robin Hood now," he informed the Knight.
"Then I thank you Robin Hood. There is a lot of work to be done here."
Robin looked around. There was indeed, and he was just so tired to help.
"Ohhhhh!" Robin groaned, his eyes darted to the side, a playful grin on his face. Little John gave Robin a look of deep concern.
"Are you all right?" he asked his closest friend.
Robin moaned again, to add effect to his injury. Marion grabbed him by the shoulders. "Oh no Robin Hood, not with those broken ribs! I’m here now, you are going to rest right NOW! The rest of us can clean up. "
"Well, if you insist," Robin grumbled, the playful glint sparkling in his eyes.
Eric led him back to the room, he insisted he rest on his bed. Before lying down Robin anxiously said to Eric.
"If you can carve more of those figures Eric, I know I can sell them for you. You’ll be able to take care of your father and brother now."
Eric smiled down at Robin, as he gently pushed him to lie down on the bed.
"I thank you Robin Hood, but I have my father back now. I think things will be better here, for all of us."
Robin didn’t hear the last of Eric’s words, for he was already fast asleep. Eric sneaked out of the room, closing the door behind him. There was still a lot of work to do outside. As the door closed, a cool breeze flew in the room, a voice whispered.
"Thank you Robin Hood….Thank you…for bringing back our Ian."
A soft chuckle was heard in the room.
Feeling a breeze tickle his ear, Robin rolled around in the bed.
Protecting a castle…rescuing a family…defeating a greedy Lord. It had proved to be a typical day for the outlaw known as:
Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter
Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five
Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten
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