Past Ghosts
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Five

Robin immediately threw his elbow back, slamming into the man’s stomach. He released Robin, gasping for air, as he clutched his stomach. Seeing Robin’s dagger on the ground, he kicked it away into the darkness, before Robin could reach it. He then staggered back.

Robin tried to reach back for his sword. The cape he wore was in the way. Eric tried to pull the cape off. Hearing the commotion, the other two men woke up. They ran towards Eric and the struggling Robin. Giving up on being able to use his sword, Robin whirled around to face the other two men. As they ran towards him, Robin shouted out.

"Eric, get out of here - now!"

He was then met by the two men, in full force. Both men barreled into him. He fell to the ground. Bringing his leg up, he threw one of them off to the side. The other brought his dagger out. Jabbing it towards Robins chest. He rolled on the ground. The dagger hit empty dirt. The first man that Robin hit in the stomach, was quickly recovering.

"’Elp us Steven!" One of the men on the ground yelled out. "’Es a slippery one." Both men on the ground grabbed at Robin. He rolled and squirmed out of their grips. Steven dived into the melee.

He grabbed at a foot. "Oui that’s my foot you ‘ave!" One of the men yelled out. "Sorry!’ Steven apologized. Robin tried to crawl out towards the forest. He felt two hands grabbing his ankles. Rolling on his back, he kicked out at them. A third set of hands grabbed his right arm. They each started stretching him out. He tried again, to reach for his sword with his free hand. The three men whirled him around. Releasing him, they threw him at a tree. He hit the tree with a thud. Dazed, he fell to the ground. Steven chuckled as he walked up to the dazed outlaw.

"Looks like our bait caught bigger fish."

He squatted down. Reaching out, he gripped Robin’s hair. He gasped out in pain, as Steven shook his head.

"Get some rope, and find out what happened to Hora…" Steven stiffened. He gazed down to see a broadsword was protruding out of his chest.

"You shall not have this man!" Ian hissed out. Placing his foot on Steven’s back, he pulled the broad sword out. Steven fell dead to the ground. A gloved hand reached down to help Robin up.

"I promised King Richard that I would protect you Young Robert of Locksley. Come, we shall return to the castle."

Searching around the camp, Robin let out a frustrated sight. The other two men had fled. Looking up at Ian, he knew why. He was dressed in full battle armor. His breastplate sparkled brightly in the darkness. Eric and Nick were standing behind their father. Amazed at how sane he looked.

"Thank you Ian, for saving my life." Robin panted, as he clasped Ian’s hand. Ian grunted as he pulled Robin up. He then shook Robin’s hand warmly, executing a slight bow. "It was nothing sir. My men and I had heard of a kidnapping and came here as soon as we could." Ian then thanked his men for helping them out.

Eric’s smile fell when his father started talking to Clarence again. Robin shook his head to clear it. He saw Steven lying dead at his feet. Now that one of the guards was killed, the Dukes men were sure to come for Ian. They had to return to the castle. They would make their stand there.

"Eric, Nick." Robin called out to the boys. "We have to get your father back to the castle. Before the Dukes men arrive."

Eric knew just how to handle his father. Stepping in front of him, he gave him a crisp salute.

"Sir Richard’s. King Richard has ordered that we regroup back at camp."

Ian briskly returned the salute, "Well? What are we waiting for man!"

Ian disappeared into the forest. Nick quickly followed him. Eric looked at Robin with concern.

"Are you all right?" Robin put his hand around Eric’s shoulder. "I’ll be fine. Let’s get back to the castle."

Eric helped Robin to finally take the offending cape off. Robin threw it on the ground. He never thought a cape could have cost him his life. As they made their way back to the castle. Robin tried to hide the pain he was in. That throw into the tree seemed to have finished the job that his horse started. One of his ribs felt like it was broken. He would have to look at it after he returned to the castle.

They quickly made their way back to the castle in the darkness. Ian headed straight to the castle, going to his room. Or in his eyes - a camp fire in the middle of the crusades.

Robin hesitated at the drawbridge. Nick and Eric stayed by his side, wondering what he was up to. Robin eyed the bridges condition. He ran into the castle, only to return with a blazing torch. Stooping down, he pulled his sword out. He jammed the swords tip into the wood, moving it back and forth. The wood easily broke, it was rotted so badly that it was a wonder it held the weight of the three of them. A knowing smile parted Robin’s lips, as a plan began to come to form.

"Eric, we need to make some holes in this drawbridge." Robin stood up, spreading his hands out. "After you finish I want you to cover the holes with hay." That knowing smile now came across Eric’s face. "I see what you want to do. Make it weak." Robin nodded at the boy. "At least enough to be able to take some men out."

Eric ran into the stables to find something to make holes in the drawbridge. Nick stayed by Robin’s side, he asked in an anxious voice. "Can I do something to help?"

Robin already had a job lined up for the young man. Pointing up at the castle walls, he said.

"I need you to set up arrows along the ramparts up there." Robin pointed up to the points he wanted the arrows placed." Looking down at the boy, he asked. "Do you think you can do that for me?" Nick took off without even answering him.

"I guess he can," he said with a chuckle.

Eric rushed out of the barn with a pitchfork in hand. He was also carrying a small barrel. Placing it on the drawbridge, he explained it to Robin.

"Its full of pitch. I was going to use it to repair the roof. I have others in the barn. Maybe we can use it to slow the men down?"

Using the hilt of his sword, Robin broke the barrel open. Opening it up, a foul smell emanated from it. His eyes ran around the castle, trying to find a strategic point to place the pitch. It was hard to see anything on the ground, he would have to climb up to a higher position.

"I have another idea on how to use this. You start working on the drawbridge. I’ll be back."

Robin ran into the courtyard. He spotted Nick running up a side on a staircase. Robin followed him to the top ramparts of the castle walls. As he reached the top, he stopped to catch his breath. Bending over he felt a sharp pain with each breath. He had to hide his injury to the boys. To much depended on him right now.

As the pain died down, he walked to the edge of the wall. He gazed down towards the ground. The moon was almost full that night. There was enough light for Robin to look about the exterior of the castle. He slowly walked around the castle. Trying to find strategic points, that he could use against the Dukes men. Nick was placing the arrows just where Robin told him.

"Nick, I want you to put them there, there, and there too." Robin pointed the positions out to Nick. He nodded his head, and ran down the staircase with unlimited energy. Robin let out a tired sigh…to be that young again.

After Robin finished circling the castle, he walked down the stairs, heading out towards the drawbridge. Eric brought out two more barrels of the pitch.

"I have three more left in the barn. I’m going to only make holes at this end. So it won’t fall apart until they’re already on it. The edges of the drawbridge are strong. Use it to carry the pitch across." Eric told Robin, he then proceeded with tearing out holes in the rotted wood. Robin became more impressed with the young man. He had a good strategic mind, thinking ahead. Picking up one of the barrels, he carefully walked along the edge of the drawbridge. He headed to the far side of the Castle. He poured the pitch just at the outskirts of the castle.

They all worked diligently into the night. When they were done, Robin examined Eric’s work. Anyone coming up to the drawbridge, would be unable to tell that something was wrong with it until it was to late. Carefully walking along the edge, Robin entered the courtyard. He searched along the wall, looking for the release of the portcullis. Eric showed him where it was.

He examined the rope that held the portcullis up. It was old and rotted. It would be easy to break with one arrow shot. Robin then walked up to the top of the ramparts. To inspect the job that Nick had done. Nick waited anxiously for his approval. He had laid each arrow standing up. He made sure there was enough space for Robin to grab at them without knocking the others down. Robin was impressed by the two boys. They had the same battle sense as their father.

Robin climbed down from the stairs. The two boys waited for him at the foot. The boys yawned as him as he came to the bottom. Both needed rest, he patted his mouth, as he faked a large yawn.

"I’m sorry, but I really do need to get some rest." The two boys had not wanted to show how tired they were to him, but with Robin sleepy too, they didn’t hide it anymore.

"I guess we need some sleep too, right Nick."

"R…ri...ri...right," Nick yawned.

Clutching the two boys by their shoulders, he pushed them into the castle. As they entered the room, Ian was sitting quietly by the fire, mumbling to himself. He never acknowledged their presence. Robin had to practically carry Nick to his bed. Gently laying him on his bed, he immediately fell asleep.

Eric dragged himself to his bed. Plopping down, he sat on the edge. Robin realized he was waiting for him to go to sleep.

A look of shock crossed his face, as he realized that Robin didn’t have a place to sleep. Quickly standing up he said, "You can use my bed Robin. I can sleep on the floor."

"No Eric," Robin insisted. "I can’t take another mans bed. You use your own bed. I’ll find somewhere else to sleep."

As he started to leave the room, Eric called out, "You sure?"

Robin glanced back, to see he was already lying on the bed, half-asleep.

"I’m sure," Robin whispered back. He quietly closed the door. Using the torch, he rushed to the weapons room. There was still a lot of work to be done before morning.

Robin struggled carrying a load of spears outside of the castle. He let out a frustrated sigh, they kept sliding out on him. Coming to the moat, he dropped them in. Jumping down, he picked the spears up out of the mud. Trudging through the mud, he walked under the drawbridge. Dropping them there, he began pushing them into the mud. Making sure the points faced up. As he finished the first load. He struggled to the moats edge. As he was about to pull himself up, another load of spears dropped down on him.

"Very clever," Ian called down. Robin coyly smiled up at him.

"I try my best."

He grabbed the spears that Ian dropped down to him. As he shoved them in place, Ian surveyed what Robin and the boys had done.

"Are you preparing for a siege?" Ian called out.

"Yes we are," Robin shouted up from under the drawbridge.

"You will need my help then," Ian stated.

Finished placing the spears under the drawbridge, Robin climbed up the moats edge. Ian offered him his hand. Giving him a look of thanks, he clutched his hand. Grabbing Robin with both of his hands, Ian pulled him up. As Robin steadied himself, he clutched his side, grimacing in pain.

"Have you re-injured yourself?" Ian asked him.

He poked Robin in the side. He let out a hiss of pain at the examination. Ian shook his head, clucking his tongue. "Here, let me take look at that."

Robin didn’t protest, as Ian led him back into the room. As they entered the room, he looked at the boys. Both were fast asleep. Taking his tunic off, he sat on a stool next to the fireplace. Ian carefully took the bandage off. As he removed the bandage, he clucked his tongue again. Robin looked down to see a large purple mark on his side.

"Look at this. You made it worse. You’re not going to be ready for the battle tomorrow." Ian said, with a sad sigh.

His fingers inched along Robin’s ribs. "One is broken," he said, with a worried shake of his head. He walked to a dark corner to find some clean dressing. Robin pondered at what Ian had just said.

"What battle?" he cautiously asked.

Finding some clean rags, Ian started tearing them into bandages. "Oh the big battle set for tomorrow. I’m to do some reconnaissance before the rest of the men go. To make sure its safe."

Ian kneeled down on one knee. He started strapping the bandage around Robin’s chest. He knew with a broken rib, he had to wrap it around differently.

As he wrapped the dressing around his chest, Robin pondered on what Ian said.

"There you go, now you just be careful soldier." Ian said, as he finished bandaging his ribs. Robin reached for his tunic, as he pulled it on, he casually said. "Ian, that battle was yesterday."

As Ian started rising, he suddenly stopped. He had a blank look in his eyes. His head cocked to the side. "Yesterday?" he asked in a hurt voice.

Robin turned to face Ian. "Yes Ian. It was yesterday. Can you tell me what happened?"

Ian kneeled back on the floor. His eyes darted to the side. "The battle was yesterday? Clarence…Mark!"

His head jerked to the side. Clarence and Mark were no longer in the camp. The entire camp was now empty, only the young man known as Robert of Locksley was present. "Where is everyone?" Ian asked.

"They’re gone." Robin carefully tried to find out what happened to Ian. "What happened to them Ian. Can you tell me why they are gone?"

Ian jumped up. He quickly paced back and forth, cursing under his breath.

"Not my fault….I didn’t run! They thought I did…GOD…don’t do this to me!" Ian yelled out. He clutched Robin hard on his shoulders, his eyes wide in panic.

"Why did they do that? To make me see…that! They should have let me die!" Ian wailed. "Why didn’t they? Tell me why didn’t they!" Ian cried to Robin, as he violently shook him. His voice was rising to stark panic. Robin didn’t want him to wake the boys up. He had to calm Ian down.

"Sir Richard’s." Robin said in an authoritative voice.

Hearing his name called, he released Robin. Robin stood up straight, and saluted him. "King Richard has placed you on a very special mission." Hearing King Richard’s name, Ian stood up straight. His ranting forgotten. He searched around the camp, Clarence and Jack was standing next to young Locksley.

"What is the mission?" Ian asked.

"Always trying to kiss up to the King," Clarence joked to Ian.

"Leave the man alone," Jack chastised Clarence.

"We need you to protect the castle," Robin said. In Ian’s eyes, Robin was now dressed in battle gear. "The castle will be under siege in the morning." Robin continued.

He hesitated as he saw Ian looking beyond him. He was seeing his dead comrades again. "King Richard has ordered your help to line up the defenses for the castle." Robin finished.

"Yes sir, I’ll get right on it," Ian saluted him, Clarence made a face to him. Ian hushed him with a look. Turning, he headed for the outskirts of the camp. He waited at the door for Robin.

"Well, are we going man?" Robin finished pulling his tunic on. As he walked past him, Ian placed his hand out to stop him.

"Are you hurt man?"

"Yes sir, a broken rib," Robin briskly answered.

"Well be careful man. That could be a dangerous injury. I’ll take a look at it later."

"Yes sir," Robin gestured for Ian to leave first. Hesitating, he called out. "Clarence, Jack you come with me."

Ian left, with his men in tow. Robin peeked back at the boys. Both seemed to be sleeping soundly. He would try to find out what happened to Ian some other time. He sadly shook his head, wondering what could have happened to him to cause him to never leave that battlefield. He quietly closed the door. There was still much work left to do. Ian and Robin diligently worked until morning, setting up traps and defenses to use against the Lord Dukesburys men.

End of Chapter Five

Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five
Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten

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