"So glad you could free up your schedule to do my bidding" already the dark foreboding man was up pacing the floor, nervous frustration apparent in every muscle of his body.
"No one pays as well as you do milord" came the assassin’s evil smile.
"Please bear that in mind my dear Master Ika. You have failed me before."
"But for double the fee Sir Guy, rest assured Robin Hood will draw his last breath before weeks end" Ika laughed as he spun on his heels and exited the room.
"Your life depends on it Ika" He mumbled after him. Sir Guy slumped into a nearby arm chair resting his elbows on the table, head in his hands. He closed his eyes if only for a moment, his eyes whirling in a cloud of memories. Bad memories. He found himself reliving the anger and raw emotion he experienced one year ago this very day. He could not forget how everything was planned to the letter, each detail gone over with a fine toothcomb. Nothing should have gone wrong. But somehow...someway Robin Hood had cheated the angel of death again. It was the perfect trap. There was no way he could have escaped. Sir Guy sat remembering the very first moment his eyes had beheld Marion after returning from the Crusades. Her auburn hair falling gently over her shoulders wearing the red dress of a warrior woman. That slight smile after seeing him for the first time and by Robin’s side! But he knew they were meant to be together. They were always meant to be together.
He remembered how surprised Robin had acted at the sudden attention Sir Guy was showing Marion. How upset he was when they were first reunited and Guy kissed her receptive hand but Robin didn’t understand. How could he? He honestly had the misconception that Marion would spend the rest of her life by HIS side as HIS woman. It was understandable that he should be a little disappointed when he saw Guy and Marion kissing in the garden.
Guy remembered how he and Robin had discussed this very matter in his main hall without really speaking the words. After that and a mock duel with sabers, Robin made it very clear that they would ALL leave in the morning, Marion at his side and drove home the point by leaving Guy a scar across the back of his hand with one of the sabers. At this point Sir Guy went back to Ika instructing him to move up the timetable and destroy Robin Hood immediately.
The bombs were set in the tavern, the note left in Robin’s room for him to find.
The trap was set-it could not fail. Robin would die that night and Marion would be his forever. How could he have predicted Marion finding the note and deciding to join Robin and help him. Ika did the only thing he could do. Trap Marion and use her as bait for Robin by suspending her on a platform using her as a counter weight for the bomb. It was an accident that they triggered the bomb by removing the counter weight and sending the mechanism into motion and in a last minute decision Robin screamed for Guy to get Marion out of there. At the time, it had appeared to go so perfect! He and
Marion had just cleared the door of the tavern, leaping to safety as the bomb went off- blowing the building to kingdom come with Robin inside. He still to this day do not know how Robin lived through that devastating explosion. He found out just as he was ready to destroy Little John and Friar Tuck by having Ika set off another explosion. It was here that Robin strolled in, Marion at his side- constantly at HIS side. A battle ensued with Robin and his band dispatching all of Guys soldiers leaving Guy on the floor where Robin had put him.
In disgust, Robin cast down his sword in front of Guy turning and strutting out the door. But Marion! Marion followed Robin doing the exact same degrading move! At first, Guys world exploded feeling as if his heart was ripped from his chest. But it didn’t take him long to realize that it wasn’t Marion, Robin was forcing her to behave like this. He knew by the way she touched his hand in the garden that day, how her lips felt beneath his. She really wanted him, loved him! Not Robin. But she was committed in the fight to free England from Prince John’s tyranny and felt it necessary to remain close to the leader of the cause, Robin Hood. Once Robin was "out of the way", Guy knew he would have no trouble making Marion his. And this time Ika would not fail.
He had a plan that would draw Robin out like a moth to a flame. Guy would see to it that the outlaw died a slow agonizing death for all of the pain and humiliation he had caused him and Guy would savor every moment of it.
"Marion, why am I forever doing laundry"?
"Because the almighty Outlaw of Sherwood sweats" Marion replied with a giggle ducking just in time to avoid a soaking wet shirt. "I missed this time but beware woman, I will have my revenge" Robin replied with a smirk, "when you least expect it".
He just finished his sentence as the same wet and now muddied shirt slapped him on the side of the head. Anyone standing close enough to witness this stopped and stared in anticipation to what the sable haired outlaw would do. Even Marion was wide eyed in wonder amazed that her shot had rang true.
Slowly Robin turned wiping the mud from the side of his face with the back of his hand to face Marion who was now laughing hysterically while trying to say that she didn't mean it. Calmly he dropped the article of clothing he was washing back into the wooden bucket of suds and with a perfectly level voice said "I am sure you didn't mean that Marion". He paused and smiled a big smile "Just as I don't mean to do this" and at that precise moment he bolted after the warrior woman who anticipated his move and turned and ran.
The two circled the compound laughing and giggling until Robin overtook the red head and scooped her up slinging her over his shoulder.
"Robert of Locksley...you put me down right now" Marion cried kicking her feet as Robin cut across the compound with a trail of residents behind him.
The outlaw calmly walked down the embankment and into the river up to his hips looking back over his shoulder at his parcel.
"Now-what were you saying Lady Marion"? "That you sweat like a pig" she returned without hesitation. And without a moments delay Robin hoisted her off of his shoulder through the air and into the water with the crowd of people on the banks cheering in delight. Marion resurfaced sputtering and throwing her wet auburn hair out of her face looking up at Robin who had already climbed back up on the shore of the river.
"I don't believe you did that" she said calmly, hands on her hips.
"Well, theres one less outfit you have to wash" Robin said arms crossed across his chest.
Marion slowly waded across the river and Robin reached down to help his dripping ladyfair. But not to be outdone, Marion accepted his hand and pulled with all of her might causing the confident outlaw to do a somersault landing on his back in the water, completely submerging him. "Well-that takes care of your perspiration problem for now."
And the observers were going wild with laughter watching the pair dripping wet climbing out of the river together. As Robin entered his hut, pealing off the wet brown suede pants he heard Little John’s voice from the door.
He quickly pulled on his dry britches "You can come in John" he said sitting on the side of his pallet, slipping his feet into his damp boots stomping his feet until they were on.
"Robin, Gabrielle just rode unto camp with some news I think you should hear right away" Robin quickly pulled on his royal blue tunic, ran his fingers through his long wet sable hair and followed Little John out of the door.
The two ran across the compound down to the rivers edge where Gabrielle was watering his lathered horse. He looked up from the water to see the two rushing towards him "Robin"!
"What is it Gabrielle? What's happened"?
Gabrielle went over and dropped down on a log as if the information he carried weighed him down.
"Robin-you always said the man was mad"
"Who? Tell me Gabrielle"
"I don't understand. Why children" he continued staring off into space.
"What children? Gabrielle! Please! What are you talking about"?
"A band with leather masks have been raiding surrounding villages but all they take are one male child from every village then disappear as fast as they come".
"Male children?" Robin was stunned. He looked up to see the pain in Little
John's eyes knowing the love the gentle giant has for children. "Robin, we gotta do something" John said softly, eyes tearing up.
"We will Little John, rest assured" Robin said trying to maintain a calm voice as his blood boiled. Marion approached the group and it was obvious she had heard the entire conversation.
Robin stood thinking...planning... then turned and ran towards the barn with John and Marion on his heels. Throwing a fur on the back of his Grey he prepared to mount as the two came through the door.
"Robin-you have to find out more about what is going on before you rush in. It may be a trap" Robin could hear the concern in Marions voice. "I realize that Marion, but children! If it is a trap, they know my weakness" he forced a smile as he looked at the beautiful red head, framed by sunlight as she stood in the door. God, she looks Angelic, he thought.
"I'll be careful" "I'll go with you" Little John chimed in. "Me too" "No." he said firmly, then smiled "Not until I know what is going on. I must do this alone".
"Robin-no. At least let one of us..."
"I don't want anyone else in danger until I know what is happening here" and that said, Robin swung onto the horses back and rested his hand on Marion’s shoulder, "I'll send for you and Little John somehow when I know what we have to do".
He tapped his heels on the grey's flanks and the large stallion took off at a canter out of the gate.
End of Chapter One
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