The next morning she woke up to the sound of a knock against her door. Patrizia rubbed the sleep from her eyes away, jumped out of bed and went to open the door. Her head was aching. Obviously she had had a little too much of the wine the night before. On the other side of the door, Robin was waiting for her to open.
"Good morning," he said, when she eventually had opened the door.
"Good morning," she replied. Her voice sounded strange and tired.
"You don’t look very well today," Robin muttered. "You’re pale."
"Thanks for the compliment. I feel awful. The wine, you know."
"I’m sorry, Gabriel told me, that you actually wouldn’t want anyone to come to you, but I was concerned when you hadn’t shown up till midday. So here I am," he smiled at her.
"It’s already midday???" she asked him in surprise. Robin nodded. "Oh my gosh. Well, then I have to start work immediately."
"Don’t you think you should better go back to bed? You really don’t look well. And I suppose that you don’t feel well."
"You’re right, but I can’t waste my time in bed."
"Please, do me that little favor. I’ve seen you drinking before and you never looked like that the other day."
"Robin, get it. I won’t go back to bed. There are more important things than my own well being I have to take care of."
"Don’t you think that you’ll do your job with little success in such a state. Come on, just lay down for another hour. I’ll be back to look after you," Robin tried to convince her. Patrizia gave him the evil eye, for she knew that he wouldn’t let her go on this and besides she really couldn’t think of anything, she would have loved to do more now. Of course she didn’t tell him, but she gladly obeyed him.
"Now you promise me to stay in bed and I’ll be back soon. I’ll get you some tea, that should help," Robin smiled and helped her into bed. Then he turned away from her and left her back alone. When he had closed the door behind him, he allowed a sigh filled with concern to leave his throat. Patrizia really looked bad. He was quite sure, that she was running a fever and that her state had not been caused by consuming alcohol the night before. Quickly he ran down to find Maria. Probably she could help him to cease Patrizia’s fever. Indeed Maria couldn’t help him, but Gabriel, who had listened to their conversation, proved to be a physician.
"You’re a physician?" Robin wondered.
"Why, yes," Gabriel smiled at him.
"Well, those days physician’s are quite popular men. So how can you survive, without being recognized as a Jew?"
"That’s simple," Gabriel smiled. "I’m no Jew."
"No, I’m not," Gabriel shook his head.
"But why are you here then?" Robin wondered.
"I believe in Patrizia’s fight and I believe in justice. What is happening to Spain’s Jews has nothing to do with justice. I want to help them and Deza has to pay for many crimes. He’s killed many people. One of them was my wife."
"Your wife? Why?"
"Why he killed her?" Robin nodded. "Well, she was a converso, a former Jew. They thought that she would still go on with Jewish habits and that our children were in great danger. She was arrested and killed at the first auto de fé in Saragossa."
"In Saragossa?" Robin asked him.
"Yes and there I met Patrizia. Her husband was killed there too."
"I know. Where do your children live now?" Robin asked him, wondering, if he had done the same as Patrizia had done with her son.
"They are here in the castle. I’m working in the background, I don’t fight. I organize and keep everyone healthy. Now lets get going. Patrizia needs our help." Robin and Gabriel went back to Patrizia’s room.
A huge crowd fills the room. Many monks, priests and other holy men discuss matters silently. A tall man is standing in the middle of them all. A closer look at him discovers his handsome features. His long nose parted his face in a fine line, his dark blues eyes sparkled like two tiny stars in his beautiful face. The tender curves of his lips made his looks perfect. But yet there was something strange about his appearance. Something bad and extremely evil. When he walked on his long legs, his black and white cowl waved around his slim form. Suddenly a noise from outside disturbed the silence. At the same moment the prior sat down at a table nearby a wall. A soldier at the door announced the arrival of prisoners, whose trial was supposed to be held that day. The monk behind the table nods, allowing them to be led into the room. All the others are silent now. Nobody seems to be really interested in what was going to happen, since it was not the first time for them, that they attended such a trial. But one person among them, also dressed with a dark brown cowl, behaves different from them. It is Patrizia, disguised as a monk. When the prisoners enter, her eyes became wet from tears of fear. She knew one of the prisoners very well. Meir. When the chained prisoners were finally at the places, where they were supposed to be, the monk behind the table started the trial.
"I’m Prior Diego Deza, Chief Inquisitor of the Holy Catholic Church. I’m here to free this beautiful town of Saragossa from the disgusting people who killed our savior." He turned to the prisoners. "Aaron ben Salomon Hermosa, AÔ a Cerol, Meir ben Helkias Toledano. You all know why you are here and why this trial is held. Is there anything you want to say?" None of the prisoners answered. Deza went on. "Well, since you know, that there’s no chance for you, we’ll try to save you from hell. We’ll give their souls to the cleaning flames of fire tomorrow, when the sun has set. They’ll burn on the stake!" Deza enjoyed the cheering and applause that came from the others in the room. Since all of them were fond of his decision, he didn’t recognize the only monk who didn’t laugh. Instead tears were rolling down Patrizia’s eyes. Her husband had just been sentenced to death. As fast as she could, she left that place, afraid that eventually someone would see her crying and discover her disguise.
The next day the stakes were built up on the plaza mayor of Saragossa. While the soldiers were still working on them, a crowd slowly filled the place. It was the first time that Saragossians would see an auto de fé and most of them had never seen people being burned to death. Many even had their children with them. Among them was a young woman, a woman whose husband was about to die and she knew (and her heart broke knowing that fact) that people would cheer and laugh about his death. Soon the prisoners were brought to the plaza mayor and one pair of sad eyes watched Meir ben Helkias Toledano. His wife.
Mercilessly the soldiers bound the prisoners against the stakes, some others stood next to the stakes holding burning torches. Patrizia’s stomach started to cramp. She turned her head away, but not without taking a last loving and yearning look at her husband. Then she started to run, she ran as she had never done before in her life. She ran as fast as her feet would carry her; sweat dripped down her face and body. When she had recognized, that sunlight was already fading, she only stopped running. Patrizia found herself way out of Saragossa. Only then she felt her trembling and shaking body and the weakness in her joints. She sank down to her knees and fell into a deep dreamless sleep.
Patrizia woke and found Robin asleep sitting in a chair next to her bed. She smiled when she saw him, because he had been her only real friend for long and besides he had been the first one who really understood her. To her surprise she felt quite well again and so she stood up. Her stomach demanded food and she gladly obeyed her body’s order to eat. One of the woman brought her something to eat, but she refused the offered wine for good reason. When she had finished her meal, she went back to her room to talk to Robin. He had already woken up and was looking for her.
"Ah, there you are!" he grinned when she entered the room. "I wondered where you’ve been."
"Robin, we’ll put our plans into action tomorrow night. We’ll find Deza in a small church outside of Cuenca. It belongs to the abbey where he resides."
"Do we have enough men?" Robin asked her.
"I hope so. But Deza will be alone, we won’t. It shouldn’t be a problem for us to overwhelm him," Patrizia said.
"Well, we’ll find out tomorrow then."
"Yes," she paused. "Now, would you mind to leave me alone now. I’d like to take a bath." Robin blushed a little and then nodded.
"I’ll see you later then."
The next day, all of the castles inhabitants including Patrizia were too busy to inform Robin about the coming night. Patrizia kept on saying, that she would tell him everything on the way to Deza’s place. And so it would happen.
Her plan was easy and quickly explained. Get into the church and get Deza. Simple. In the secret and protecting darkness of night, fifty men and women went on their own special crusade, a crusade with only one target – Prior Diego Deza. After two hours of exhausting walking, the church arrived on the horizon. A small light came through one of the windows.
"He’s there," Patrizia whispered to the others. They knew what they had to do now. Silently they hushed towards the more a chapel like church and surrounded it. Then it was Robin’s and Patrizia’s turn. Quietly they walked to the huge door and opened it. When Deza heard the door being opened he whirled around, knowing well, that none would dare to disturb him during his nightly prayers, at least none who knew him.
"Who are you?" he asked into the darkness. No answer. But he felt the presence of someone, a presence that appeared to be very dangerous for him.
"Diego Deza," a female voice thundered through the darkness. "You’ve killed my people and you’ve killed my husband. Now, you will die." Deza’s eyes opened wide with fear, his entire body started to tremble.
"Who’s talking? Show your face, villain."
"You are the villain, SeÔ or Deza," now a calm male voice said. "You have something I want, SeÔ or."
"I don’t know what that would be," Deza said with a heavily shaking voice.
"Does sacred water ring a bell?" Robin asked.
"You’ll never get it, whoever you may be. None is strong enough to defeat me."
"Then let me see your face. I want to see the man and the woman who want my death." Suddenly the female voice started to laugh.
"Oh Deza, you’re really funny. Do you think there are only the two of us?" Patrizia slowly walked towards him, grabbed by his robe and pulled his body in a threatening way tightly to her own.
"How stupid do you think we are? There are waiting fifty angry men and women outside for you to beg for your life." Then she again let go of him. Now Robin came closer and watched from head down to his toes.
"So you don’t want to tell me, where you hide the sacred water. Well, I have ways to find what I want." Robin came closer and started to search through all of Deza’s clothes. Then he felt something close to Deza’s heart. It seemed to be a very small bottle. When Robin pulled it out from under Deza’s cowl he started to grin.
"We’ll I found, what I’ve been looking for. Patrizia, he’s yours now," Robin grinned evilly.
"Thank you, SeÔ or Robin. Now Deza, shall I tell you, what you’ve done so wrong, that you deserve death?" She paused and seemed to think over it another time and then shook her head.
"No, I think you know what you’ve done wrong. Now, are you ready to face the devil?" she asked him, grinning mischievously. Deza’s eyes only opened wider with fear.
"Don’t you think we should bring some of the others in?" Robin asked her. Patrizia first smiled at Robin and then at Deza.
"I think you’re right, Robin. Good idea. Would you mind to bring them in?"
"Of course not." Robin left Patrizia and Deza back alone.
"Who are you?" Deza finally dared to ask. Again Patrizia started to laugh, then turned around and made some steps.
"I’m Patrizia Toledano, widow of Meir ben Helkias Toledano. He’s been just one of your many innocent victims..." While Patrizia kept on telling her story, Deza started to search something under his cowl. Every time she turned around and faced him, he stopped any movements. Eventually he had found what he’d been looking for.
"So you think that I should feel sorry about what I’ve done to your people." Now it was his turn to laugh evilly. "Young lady, believe me. Everything I did was only for their best. Their souls have been rescued from the eternal fire in hell. Now they’re with the only true and almighty God."
"That’s your point. Don’t forget that you’ve only stolen your God from ours. He’s just a copy. Our Torah is your Five books of Moses. As a matter of fact we should be the ones to destroy your kind. But we don’t."
"Oh my lost child, lies, nothing but lies. That’s what the old ones tell you. But it is not true. Believe me." He started to walk towards her. "My child, you’re the victim of a huge betrayal." He kept on walking towards her, Patrizia made one step back and another. Her eyes were full of fear and pure hate.
"None ever lied at me, except for you and your kind. You’ve taken away everything from me, I loved. My husband and even my little son. I had to leave him alone, so that I could find and fight you. And now this moment has come."
"My dear, you’re no good mother. You’ve left your little son alone. But after you’ve given birth to him, you have immediately started to tell him the same lies as you were told. You made the same mistakes." Deza’s eyes were cold and filled with the evil he was. But hot tears had welled up in Patrizia’s eyes. Deza was standing eye to eye with her, so that he could see her fear.
"You’ll never get my son Deza. Only I know where he is and besides you won’t live long enough to do anymore harm. To none."
"Do you really think so, you whore." Suddenly a dagger came out of Deza’s cowl and made its way into Patrizia’s flesh. Her eyes opened wide in shock and disbelief, Patrizia sank down to the ground and her tender body greeted the cold stone floor with a sickening thud. Just in that moment Robin and the others came into the chapel. Immediately Robin’s eyes discovered Patrizia’s form laying on the floor in a real pool of blood. His eyes went wild with rage with a heart tearing scream Robin ran towards Deza and killed him. His sword went through Deza’s throat as a knife through butter. Then he slowly turned around to face Patrizia laying on the floor. Hot tears ran down his cheeks. Robin knelt down beside her and took her limp form into his strong arms.
"Patrizia, you cannot die now. Remember Aaron. He needs you.... please don’t leave us." His hot tears fell down on her face. But even now in the moment of her own death, a smile refused to leave her lips.
"It’s over now, Robin." She had a hard time to speak. "Just promise me one thing. Take my men back home safely and Aaron," she paused to catch some breath. "Tell them to care for my son." Her breathing became heavier with every word she spoke. "Robin, it was a honor to meet you. You’re a very brave man. Return to your beloved ones. They need you," while she spoke, she looked deeply into Robin’s brown eyes. After some time Robin saw, that all life had disappeared from her body. Her eyes had went still, her chest neither sank nor lifted anymore, her mouth was slightly opened. Robin closed her eyes and smiled down at her.
"It was a honor to meet you. You were a special woman." He stood up from the ground and lifted her into his mighty arms. Robin found himself surrounded by sad eyes.
"Let’s bring her home so that she can rest in peace." He walked through the crowd with the dead Patrizia in his arms and left the chapel.
Three days later all of them stood around Patrizia’s open grave. Strange sounds emitted from their lips, at least they were strange to Robin’s ears. Gabriel and the others said the Kaddish and the Shema for Patrizia’s immortal soul. Aaron and Juana were also with them.
After the funeral was over Robin told the others his last Goodbye. He sure knew that he would miss all of them. Gabriel offered him to go with him to Saragossa, but Robin refused and told him, that he should better take care of Aaron, Juana and the others. Gabriel promised so.
It took Robin fourteen days to get to Saragossa. It was a beautiful small town, but yet Robin found himself covered by a deep sadness. He knew that this was the place, where Patrizia had lost what she had loved the most. But now everything was over for her or probably everything had just begun. He truly believed that she and Meir were reunited now and that they were as happy as before. While he was so deep in his thoughts, he didn’t see the rider coming towards him and it was too late for Robin, to get out of his way.
England in the year of the lord 1195
"Robin, Robin? How are you feeling?" Robin heard Sarianna’s voice from far away. And then she slowly appeared in front of his eyes. "How are you?" she asked him again. Robin moaned. His head hurt terribly.
"I think I’m okay. Where am I?"
"Back home," he heard Marion say. Robin’s eyes became very sad.
"Sarianna, your friend, Patrizia, she’s dead."
"I know Robin. I’ve been with you all the time. In spirit," Sarianna tried to comfort him.
"I have what you wanted, Sarianna," Robin said weakly. "It’s in my tunic." Sarianna went to the chair where she had placed Robin’s tunic earlier when they had found him. Eventually she found the tiny bottle.
"What are you going to do with it now?" Marion asked the ancient woman.
"I’ll bring all the others and myself back to life," she paused then smiled at the couple. "I’ll leave the two of you alone now. Thank you Robin Hood. I knew that you would help us and that you would bring me back to Eric." Sarianna gave them a last smile then disappeared into the great nothing. Now Robin and Marion were finally alone. Marion noticed, that Robin seemed to be very sad and upset.
"What’s wrong, love?" she asked him.
"You know, where I’ve been I met an amazing woman. She was so full of love, so kind and so brave. She died for what she believed in. She was victorious in the end, but only in one battle of the war. You know she and her people were the same as you and me. They fought for their rights and for justice," Robin paused and thought about what he had just said. "Do you think that we will ever succeed?" Robin asked Marion. She smiled and took his hand into hers.
"I’m sure Robin we will." Lovingly she gazed down at him and kissed him on his forehead.
"Now get some rest, love. You deserve it." Robin smiled at his one and only love and then he fell into a deep dreamless sleep.
For my grandmother, my mother, Bettina and the Outlaws
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