On a rainy autumn afternoon in Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and his love Marion Fitzwalter spent their time tightly embraced under warm blankets in Robin's hut.
A couple of weeks before, they were married. Finally!
Robin was probably the luckiest man on the entire planet. No he was the luckiest man in the whole universe. And yet a deep black shadow covered his soul. He mourned for the death of an old friend of his. It happened several months before.
When Robin's ship reached Clifden Harbor on the Irish west coast, his old friend Michael was already waiting for him on the pier. Robin hadn't seen him in years. They had been the best friends when they were children, but then Michael's father died and his mother went back to Ireland to live with her family there. This had happened about twenty years ago. And now they were standing there, not like strangers who met each other for the first time, but like men who didn't know what to do or what to say.
"I've heard that you're not the Royals' best friend back home in England,"
"I do my best!" Robin smiled back at him.
"It's good to see you, Michael."
"It's good to see you, Robin. It's been a long time."
"It certainly has."
And then finally the ice was broken and they hugged.
"Now come on," Michael said. " I'm sure you're hungry and tired. And the way you smell you could use a bath too." He laughed out loud.
"I guess you're right. Now, show me your home." Both men made their way through the streets of Clifden, laughing and telling each other of their lives.
An hour later they arrived at Michael's house. Actually it was more like a small wooden hut, but it was clean and very nice to look at. The smell of fresh bread and hot spicy meat drifted through the door and windows. Robin and Michael spent their first night together, after more than twenty years. Catching up to what has happened to them. Late at night they both fell asleep, lucky and pleased to finally have met their friend again.
When Robin woke up the next morning, he found his friend gone. He rose from his bed and looked for something to eat. He was hungry, though he had eaten a large meal the night before. Robin finished his breakfast and decided to take a look at Clifden. He wanted to find out what Ireland was like, since it was his first time there. Quite sure, that his friend had to work he went his way. With eyes large with wonder, he went through the streets of Clifden. There were a lot of bakeries, one pottery followed the other and a lot of stables. Robin rented a horse. He wanted to view the land outside of the city.
The horse he was given was a very large brown stallion. A proud and beautiful animal. Robin returned to his friend's home late in the evening, in time to find Michael in the arms of a woman he didn't know yet.
"Good evening," Robin made himself recognized.
"Robin, hi!" Michael said and stood up from the floor.
"You haven't introduced me to your wife yet," Robin smiled. She seemed strange to him. She wore precious clothes and didn't look like a woman who belonged in the streets he just walked. She blushed.
"Robin, this is Christina. She is not my wife, well not yet. Chris, may I introduce you to Robert of Locksley, an old friend of mine."
"Pleased to meet you, Lord Locksley," she whispered.
"Pleased to meet you, Milady." Robin smiled at her.
"Michael, I'm afraid I have to go now. I don't want my father to become suspicious."
Michael nodded. Chris stood up, kissed her love shyly on the cheek and left the hut without another word. Unseen by Michael, Robin raised an eyebrow.
"Goodbye my love," he heard him whisper.
She had left for some time. When Michael finally closed the door, Robin looked straight into his eyes.
"Who is she?" he asked his friend.
"The woman I love," was Michael's simple answer.
"That's what I thought. Who is she?" he asked again.
"What's wrong with you?" Michael became angry. "I've told you who she is and this has to be enough for you." Robin was surprised by his friends reaction.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."
"Forget it!" Michael said, opened the front door and left the hut. Robin was stunned. He had expected everything, but this. What was wrong with Michael? There was something he didn't want to tell Robin and it had something to do with this woman. But what? Robin was determined to find out.
Robin woke up the next morning to find Michael still gone. Where was he? He had no idea. Probably he had spent the night at Chris' place, but didn't really believe it. Robin was angry with himself. Why did he have to annoy his friend, the second day he saw him after more than twenty years? But as a matter of fact he had no idea, why Michael was so annoyed. Didn't he not trust him anymore?
Michael and Chris were laying on the cold sand. They had spent the night tightly embraced at the windy beach of Ireland's coast. Trembling, Chris woke up. "Michael ... Michael, wake up." Michael slowly opened his eyes and recognized the coolness of the night first.
"What's wrong?" he asked her.
"I must go home now, and you should too. I'm sure Robin worries about you."
"I don't think so. He asked way too many questions!"
"Do you really think so? Don't you think that they were quite normal questions after twenty years? Or don't you trust him anymore?"
"We can't trust anyone. You know that our love is forbidden," Michael said angrily.
"But it is not Robin's fault. And he wasn't the one who forbid our love."
"That's true. Anyway, he hasn't chosen the best time for his visit. We have to hide, we're not allowed to be seen together anywhere, anytime. We wanted to leave Clifden and your father behind us. And now I cannot go."
"It doesn't matter, if we wait a month more or less. We'll be together forever soon. Just don't lose you're faith."
"It's too late. I've already lost it. We're a pair of star-crossed lovers.
There's no place for us in this world."
"Why do you say that? You've lost your faith - in me, in our love and in yourself." Chris stood up and left Michael back in the sand.
"Chris!!!" he shouted, but she couldn't hear him anymore.
"Noooooooo!" A shout left Michael's throat. He jumped up and ran towards the lifeless body laying in the sand.
"Chris!" he screamed again and when he reached her, he let himself fall down into the sand next to her. Blood come out from a deep hole in her chest, her eyes were closed.
"Chris, no," he whispered towards her. She couldn't hear him anymore. He tried to wake her by shaking her on the shoulders, but it was hopeless. Chris was dead.
"No, no," again he tried to wake her up. He just couldn't accept that she was gone. Michael took her limp body in his arms and lifted her up. Slowly he walked along the beach, without a destination. He couldn't go home, he couldn't go anywhere.
Robin quickly rode along the beach, when he spied a figure with something in its arms coming towards him. He urged his horse to ride pick up it’s pace, and after a minute, which seemed to be as long as eternity, he reached him - Michael.
Unbelieving Robin stared at his friend with the dead Chris in his arms.
"What happened?" Robin jumped down from his horse and ran towards his friend. Michael seemed to stare right in the middle of nowhere. In his mind he was completely absent. He only whispered "She is not dead, she can't be dead!".
Again Robin asked his friend what had happened. Michael shook his head.
"I don't know," he whispered. Robin sighed.
"Alright. Let's get away from here. You'll be in big trouble, if they should find you." Michael nodded. Robin helped him to get Chris' limp body on the horse's back.
"Do you know a place, where no one will find us?" Robin asked.
"Follow me. I think I know where we can go."
They had to walk quite a distance until they reached a small forest.
"In the middle of the forest is a hut which belonged to Chris. No one except her brother knows of it and he would never search for her. He was only her half-brother and they didn't like each other that much." Robin nodded.
"Let's go then." Robin headed straight into the wood with Michael following behind him. Fifteen minutes later they arrived at the hut. Robin opened the door and Michael followed him. He went towards a bed which was standing on the other end of the room and laid Chris' limp body down on it. He turned around and looked straight into Robin's eyes. Now Robin thought, the time had come to ask him again, what happened.
"Wanna tell me now, what happened?" he asked. Michael sighed out and nodded.
"Actually I can't tell you what happened, because I don't know. Chris and I had an argument. She was about to leave me and had already walked away when I saw her fall down into the sand. I ran towards her, but I couldn't see anybody else. When I finally reached her, she was already dead." Michael stopped and Robin saw a huge tear roll down his friend's cheek. And then Michael started to cry for the first time. A stream of tears ran down his face.
"You can't imagine what she meant to me. She was my heart and my soul. With her death, my heart has turned into stone and my soul died with her. How shall I go on without her? My life is over, Robin. There's nothing left that could keep me alive."
"We'll have to find the one who killed her. Do you have an idea who it could be?" Robin asked.
"Well, I'm quite sure that it was someone of her family. She has always been very different and they didn't like that. It wouldn't surprise me, if it was her brother or her father or some of their men."
"Do you really think so?"
"Yes. They are that cold. The duke would even sell his own grandmother if he'd get an advantage from it."
"She's the daughter of a duke?"
"Yes. He is a cousin of King Richard. But he never lived in England. He's not a friend of the royal family. Truth to tell, he isn't a friend of anyone."
"So I guess he likes his cousin Prince John."
"He likes none."
"Believe me, if he knew him, he would like him."
"What are we going to do now?" Michael asked.
"First we have to bury her. And then we'll find the one who is responsible for her death. But first you'll have to sleep. It's late and you'll need it."
"I can't sleep."
"Try, you'll need your strength. You cannot do anything tonight anyway."
Robin smiled at his friend, but Michael was not able to smile back. The pain inside of him was too strong. It was not only a psychic pain, but he could also feel it physically. Mentioning her name, even thinking about her made his heart ache so strong, that he thought he'd have to die in the same second. Everything inside of him was so empty. There was no sense in his life anymore. He rather die than to live without her.
Robin woke up the next morning to find Michael gone. He jumped up from where he slept and found also Chris' body gone. 'Great,' he thought and ran out of the hut. His horse was away and so he was sure that he would need quite a long time to find Michael. Robin was sure, that he wanted to tell her his last goodbye alone. So he went through the forest looking for Michael. He found him sitting by a small clearing, a fresh grave next to him. Robin went towards him and knelt down next to him.
"Don't you think it's time to go?" Robin said and helped Michael to stand up from the wet forest ground. It had rained the night before heavily, just as if heaven wanted to share Michael's pain.
Robin had decided that it would be the best to go back to Clifden before they made any plans how to get revenge for Chris' death. They spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon in the hut and then left for Clifden in the late afternoon. Michael didn't want to be seen, though Robin couldn't find a reason for his shyness since none knew of what had happened the day before. But Michael was worried that the duke wanted to blame Michael for Chris’ death and that's why he was afraid to go home.
When they arrived at Michael's small hut in the village, no one was on the streets. Most of the villagers were used to go to bed early, since they had to do hard work every day, even on Sundays after church. Robin was not sure what to say or how he could give Michael some comfort. So he decided that it would be the best simply to say nothing. They didn't say anything for the rest of the evening and went to bed shortly before midnight. Michael couldn't find any sleep. Again and again he saw Chris' face in front of his eyes, in his mind he could hear her voice calling out for him, calling for him to help her.
And then he saw her fall down into the sand, he saw her die. It was the most horrible vision he could think of. No, he knew that he couldn't live without her. He had to follow her. He was not afraid to die, actually he wanted to die so that he could be with her again. Michael knew that their love had been cursed from the moment it had begun. He got up from his bed and checked if Robin was already asleep. He was, and so Michael dressed and left his home.
Robin almost had become used to waking up to find Michael gone. Sometimes he was really curious, why his friend loved it so much to get up that early and to leave without saying a word about his whereabouts. So Robin's job for the day was once again to find Michael, which wasn't an easy thing since he didn't know Ireland that well. Robin got dressed and left the hut.
Michael was in front of the castle of the Duke of Shannon. The duke was the father of Christina of Shannon. But only her stepfather. Christina's real father died when she was the age of four and she couldn't remember him that well. Her mother, Lady Sophia of Shannon, married her new husband when Christina had been the age of twelve. She had always loved her daughter more than anything but she never realized what her husband really wanted. He didn't want her or her daughter. He wanted her castle, her money and everything else that belonged to her. Lady Sophia and Duke Vincent had a son, called Paul.
Sophia died when she gave birth to him. From that day on Christina's life changed completely. She was no longer the beloved daughter, she used to be, she was unimportant and truth to tell, her father tried to get rid of her. But there had never been a chance, until Michael stepped into her life. He was the best reason for Duke Vincent to find a plan to get Chris out of the way. He wanted to end her life and he was determined to do it. And his son would help him, since it was for his own good.
And then the day had come. Although Paul was only 15, Duke Vincent didn't hesitate to order his son to murder Christina. And Paul gladly obeyed him. He had never liked his sister, since she had always been the darling of their mother. Paul thought, that this should have been his part of his mother's heart since he was the son! And when his mother died, he was happy. He was happy about her death. Now it was his turn. Then one night he made his way to Michael's hut in Clifden. He had found a hiding place in a small tavern on the other side of the street.
He sat near a window from where he could see Michael's door. Beer and wine gave him the courage he needed to kill his own sister. Later in that night he saw Chris leave Michael's hut. He had just made himself ready to follow her, when he saw Michael storming out of his hut, obviously following Chris. Paul let a few moments pass by until he followed them himself. He had no idea that there was still another person in the hut. Robin. It was an easy thing to follow them close behind. None was out on the street and it was a bright night. The moon and the stars were shining brightly in the sky and gave him the light he needed.
He followed them to a beach a little bit outside of Clifden and observed them while they were lying in the sand. They seemed to have an argument. 'Good,' he thought and kept on waiting for his chance, which had come much closer with this. And he didn't have to wait for long. Soon Chris jumped up and ran away from Michael. This was Paul's chance. He aimed at Chris and let his dagger fly. His look went to Michael who hadn't realized yet, what had happened. Paul ran over to Chris limp body and pulled the dagger out of her chest. A mischievous grin kissed his lips before he quickly ran away.
Michael tried to find the best way into the castle. He knew his destination very well. He needed to find the duke, the murderer of Chris. Michael had to hide from the guards. Though he was tall and quite strong, he didn't have any fighting skills. But suddenly he remembered a secret entrance into the castle, which Chris had once shown him. Slowly he crawled along the walls of stone until he reached the hidden door. He could only open it with his dagger. It didn't take him long and he was inside the castle.
Through the huge galleries he could hear voices and laughter coming from somewhere. Luckily he had been in the castle so often before, that he knew it very well and he could guess where it was coming from. Michael made his way towards the main parlor and he had guessed right. The duke was in the main parlor. Michael listened, but could only hear the duke's voice. Likely he was talking with himself. Michael had always known that the duke was no man who was blessed with the lion share of intelligence.
Michael took a last look back into the gallery and then opened the huge door of the main parlor. As Michael had guessed, the duke was alone and likely he had drunk a lot.
"You don't look like a mourning man," Michael said. The duke was shocked with Michael's presence. He was so shocked, that he couldn't say a word.
"Surprised to see me here?" Michael asked. "Why? I think you know very well, why I am here. And now it's your turn to die. Now you have to pay for what you've done." Slowly Michael moved towards the frightened duke. While he was walking towards him, he drew a dagger out of its sheath. Duke Vincent was frightened to death and so he couldn't even scream, as Michael stabbed him again and again until he was dead. But Michael's crusade for justice wasn't over yet.
There was still that devil Paul, who likely killed his own sister. It certainly hadn't been the duke. He had been an old man and had an injured leg. Anyway, now it was Paul's turn to die. Michael had turned into a machine and its only use was to kill. Nothing else mattered for him anymore. Paul had to die and he had to die now. Soon Michael had found Paul in his rooms. He laid asleep in his bed. Deep inside Michael knew that it was not right to kill a man while he was asleep, but it was even more wrong to kill his own sister. Michael sneaked towards the sleeping Paul and killed him the same way, as he had already killed his father.
His job was done now and now he could do the last thing he had to do, but it still had to wait.
Robin rode out of Clifden to find Michael. First, he rode into the forest, where they had buried Christina. He wasn't there. Where to go now? Robin decided to ride to the beach, where she had been killed. With success. He found Michael sitting in the sand; in his hands he had an amulet that likely once belonged to Chris.
"Are you alright?" Robin asked, as he let himself fall down into the sand next to Michael. Michael nodded his head yes.
"Where have you been?"
"I had something to do. Nothing special." Michael didn't want to tell Robin the truth. He knew that Robin would have been greatly disappointed with him.
"Is everything really all right with you?"
"Yes, thanks, I'm fine. But would you do me a favor?"
"Please, leave me alone, Robin. I need some time for myself." Robin sighed out.
"Sure." Robin stood up and wanted to mount his stallion, when Michael held him back.
"Thanks for everything. You've always been my best friend, you were almost like a brother for me. Goodbye. God knows, when we'll meet again." Robin didn't know what to think of Michael' speech. So he decided that it would be the best thing to say nothing and leave him alone with his thoughts.
Michael's eyes never left the ocean. In his thoughts he was with Christina. And soon they would be together again. Michael closed his eyes. In his mind he took a last look of his love. He opened his eyes again and watched the polished metal of his dagger. Michael pushed his dagger in his chest and let himself fall down back into the soft sand. A last time he whispered her name and then he died.
Robin had known very well, what Michael would be doing as soon as he would be alone. Robin knew, that Michael couldn't see any sense in his life anymore.
Without Chris he was nothing. In his eyes, Robin couldn't find any hope for tomorrow. He spent the night on a meadow, near a forest, thinking about Marion. He knew, that he would have done the same, if Marion had died. The next morning Robin returned to Michael and brought his body into the forest. He buried him next to Chris, so that they would be united in death at least.
Marion was still asleep in Robin's arms when she felt something warm and wet on her cheek. She looked up at Robin and saw him crying.
"What's wrong?" she asked with a sleepy voice.
"Nothing. I'm fine. It's just that I've remembered something, that frightens me. But I guess, that's what true love is."
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