Robin rode the better part of the day to the village of Devonshire. Before departing camp, Robin managed to get out of Gabrielle the last Village a report of a missing child came from. Robin also managed to pry from the young man who was referred to as "mad".
"Robin, I swear to you, I saw Master Ika. He was mounted on a horse at the edge of the village. That laugh Robin...that evil laugh..."
"Its ok Gabrielle, you did well" Robin praised the man in honest sincerity,
"It sounds like Master Ika's work" And as he rode he thought back to the two other times he had encountered the mercenary. The first was when the sable haired legend decided to rob Ceaserville, a local gambling village, for what was a very profitable take enabling Robin to feed many of the poorer hamlets. In retaliation, Simon, the owner if the establishment, blackmailed three of his patrons who were very deep in gambling debt. If they would track down Robin Hood in the "ultimate hunt" while other patrons bet on the outcome, he would wipe their slates clean. After Robin had managed to send both of his comrades to their after life by using their own weapons and traps, the outlaw knew he still had the most cunning to contend with. Ika, Master of death. At first, Master
Ika had thought he had killed Robin by trapping him I a cave in a rock slide, but he only succeeded to knock the outlaw unconscious slowing him down a bit.
Ika caught up with Robin in the woods and after an evenly matched yet fierce battle, Robin stood pointing a notched home made arrow at Master Ika's heart. Much to Ika's embarrassment, he stared into the outlaws eyes and giving the signal of defeat, lowered his head and dropping his eyes, pushing one fist into the other. Robin did not shoot but gave a slight smile and nodded then dropped the bow and arrow and turned and ran taking Ika's horse returning successfully to Ceaserville and the cheering crowds.
That started Ika's deep-rooted hatred for the outlaw of Sherwood. Then Sir Guy hired him to blow the man to kingdom come and Robin made this hatred grow even stronger by dodging every one of the mercenary's traps, humiliating him even further. Now it was an obsession for Ika. Guy’s exuberant pay scale just iced the cake for the assassin. He would have killed the legend for free! But Robin was oblivious to all this. He knew Ika had ulterior motives. He knew Ika was drawing him out. Exactly the reason he would not allow Marion and John to accompany him. He was just unaware that this was another pairing of Ika and Sir Guy. The outlaw pondered all of this as his horses clopped along the village streets. He kept remembering that Ika worked on a "hire out" basis..it was a matter of who hired him!
Dusk was falling and Robin noticed the little village began to glow with warm candlelight. He was tired and hungry and pulled the reigns of the great grey stallion towards the local tavern. He had been to the small village several times with Friar Tuck on distribution runs and the few residents he had encountered waved with enthusiasm. As he entered the tavern, the tavern keeper waved warmly having been the recipient of coin on more than one of the distribution runs.
"Robin-what can I get you lad" he asked reaching over the bar and clasping the outlaws hand.
"If I could impose on you for a bowl of stew and a mug of ale".
"Nothing but the best for you Robin" he returned obviously happy to do something... anything for this hero.
Robin turned to survey the small, warm room. "Where’s Rebecca"? Robin asked noting the absence of a familiar face. "It is finally time for Rebecca and Paul to have their first" the tavern keeper said warmly.
"That's wonderful news! Please extend my best wishes" Robin said taking a seat at a secluded table in the corner careful to have his back to a wall and a full view of the room and entrances.
Abraham, the tavern keeper, motioned for a tiny blonde to hurry over and bring
Robin his ale and when the pretty little wench eyed him sitting in the firelight, she was more than happy to comply.
"Anything else I can get ye milord"? she asked bending forward to hand him the mug, revealing her amply exposed tops of her creamy white breasts for Robin to behold. Robin blushed at the closeness, the smell of lilac permeating his nostrils.
"Just the stew thank you" he said softly leaning as far back in his seat as he could.
She looked at him, disappointment apparent in her pale eyes "Will ye be stayin' the night with us milord"? she asked again hopeful.
He smiled trying to choose his words as carefully as possible to spare her feeling. "Yes, but I have a long ride ahead of me tomorrow and must get as much sleep as possible"
Again she flashed him a look of disappointment and quietly said "Then I’ll be gettin' your stew milord".
After Robin finished a hearty portion of stew and two mugs of ale, he decided to check on his stallion then he would turn in early so as to get an early start in the morning. He wanted to locate the parents of the missing boy from this village and try to gather clues from them as well as other witnesses that might shed some light as to the reasoning behind these kidnapping. As he stood to go, the little blonde wench bounced across the clean rushes carrying a small cup extending it to Robin.
"Abraham wishes me to give this to you and ask you to try it and tells me whatcha thinks. Its a new blend of teas he 'as created".
Robin smiled knowing it was the least he could do for his long time friend and supporter. He took the wooden cup and drank heavily appreciating the rich taste of nuts and berries then handed it back to the girl nodding his approval. "Please tell him it is very good - I heartily approve". She smiled and dropped a courtesy then walked a few steps back and paused looking over her shoulder at Robin. "He returned her smile and turned and headed towards the door. As he walked he began to plan the days events for tomorrow when he noticed he was having a hard time sorting out his thoughts. As he looked at the lit candles on the tables they glowed, then split in half. The fire seemed to burn brighter and hazier. The room and all of its contents began to swim before his eyes and as he reached for a chair, his body began to shake. He felt his face flush and this heat slowly ran through him until his legs would not hold him up any more. As he limply fell to the floor he stared up through darkening vision to see Master Ika staring over him laughing that same evil laugh but fight as hard as he did, he soon gave in to the beckoning darkness.
Sir Guy awoke to a bright sunny day. Even though he had only been able to sleep for a couple of hours in his excitement of what the day would bring, he still felt fantastic. He threw the quilt back leaping up and smoothed out the wrinkles in his satin nightshirt. He found he couldn’t help but feel giddy with joy at the prospect of finally confronting the man who had come between him and the only woman he had ever loved. He quickly dressed into his favorite uniform of black pants, black tunic, gold overlay, and matching full black cape.
Pulling his long thick jet-black hair outside his tunic, then running a brush through the strands he glanced at his reflection in a metal decanter and turned as there came a knock at the door. He unbolted the heavy barrier as a young wench entered and dropped a courtesy.
"There are two men to see you milord" she stated offering no further information. "Wonderful...wonderful..." he returned to his bed grabbing his shinny leather boots and quickly stomped his feet into both hurrying out the door after her. He deliberately descended the wide stone staircase with grandiose strides looking down on the two men standing before him. Master Ika stood with one hand on the younger mans shoulder as if holding up a prize boar just brought in from a hunt. The taller, dark infamous Bowman stood, eyes transfixed on Guy, gaze cold as ice. His hands were tightly tied behind him but Guy realized that was all that was keeping the outlaws hands from going around his throat. The lord of the manor nodded acknowledgement to Ika then turned his attention to Robin Hood.
"Well..well..well.. If it isn't my old friend Fitzsooth" he started sarcasm dripping from every word. "How many times have you had me at a disadvantage Robert of Locksley? Now its my turn" he could feel Robin's gaze cut right through him.
"What? No witty reply? No retaliatory statement"? Guy waltzed around Robin smiling and laughing, "No 'I'll get you for this'? Robert...you disappoint me." He moved around until he stood directly across from the younger man "But I'll have my glory when Marion and I are wed and dancing on your grave". With this, Robin moved like a flash headbutting Sir Guy in the face dropping the nobleman like a rock. He then turned spin kicking Ika with one leg, then lashing out at the guard with the other and bolted for the door. Guy struggled to his feet holding his now bleeding nose in his two hands shouting for his guards. Robin made it to the bottom of the outside stairs and just stopped realizing he was surrounded by guards targeting Robin with crossbows.
Robin slowly turned and began ascending the stairs where Sir Guy and Master Ika awaited his return. As Robin reached them Ika grabbed Robin's arms and escorted him back inside where Guy wiped the remainder of blood from his face and turning to face Robin, backhanded the younger man across the face.
Robin shook his head to clear it then turned back to Guy and finally spoke to the man he'd known since childhood. "What now Sir Guy"?
"I take your sword and send it to your friends, Fitzsooth, with the instructions that I will release you to them when they release Marion Fitzwalter to me" he replied with a steady voice.
"And what makes you think Marion is being held against her will"?
"She loves me Robert-not you. She always has. She told me that day when she kissed me in the garden" he replied very matter of factly "She just was using you to assist King Richard".
Robin looked down and shook his head then returned Sir Guys gaze saying in a very deep voice "I almost feel sorry for you Sir Guy. You must be mad", He watched as Guy's face flushed red and contorted with rage. He braced himself as he watched him draw back his fist in retaliation, but as he shook with anger he turned and ordered his guards to take Robin out in the Court yard and chain him in the square.
"If I didn't want to make certain Marion doesn't feel sorry for you, I'd bloody your face up right here and now. Shame it cannot be my hand that ends your miserable life. Take him away" and Guy and Ika watched as the legendary outlaw half walked, was half drug down the stairs and across the courtyard where his arms were chained in shackles over his head. When they could see how uncomfortable Robin appeared to be, they both laughed in pleasure.
"You've done well Ika. Join me in a glass of wine" Guy said patting the warrior on his back and the two returned inside leaving Robin hanging from his wrists in the bright sunshine.
After discussing which plan of action to take, Kemal, Little John, Marion and Tuck set out for Devonshire returning to the Tavern from which they believed Robin had been abducted.
Kemal lead the way into the small, thatched roof tavern and looked around for the tavern keeper, eyes taking a while to adjust to the darkened interior of the tavern after the bright sunshine. The dark warrior noted only one other man in the tavern, but he bore the uniform of the guard of a nobleman. Kemal knew the colors he wore but could not place them until Marion entered, he cued her towards the surviving guard as she whispered "Sir Guy of Gisbornes estates". It took Little John to notice what lie on the table in front of this guard though. All the large man could choke out was "Oh my God"!
The other three followed his eyes to the table and quickly saw Robin’s sword,
"The sign of the dragon" carved on the handle which matched the burn scar on Robin's forearm when Olwyn awarded this sacred sword to the outlaw when he was but 16 years old. There was no mistaking that sword for another. It was then that Robin's friends knew where he had been taken, and by whom.
The day seemed to drag on forever but at least Robin was thankful he did not have to put up with either Guy's or Ika's insolence. He had not seen them since the dispute in the entranceway. His mouth was so dry between the ill effects of the drugs he had been administered last night and the hot sunshine, and his head still had a dull ache. The thing that bothered him the most was his wrists chained tightly above his head as he lost the feeling in both limbs hours ago. Hearing a sound to the left of him Robin let out an audible groan as he watched Ika's massive form come into view. "Funny, I was just telling myself how fortunate I am" Robin said with a sarcastic smile.
"Fortunate? Chained as you are and you consider yourself fortunate"? Ika asked puzzled.
"Yep...I thought, Robin, it has been hours since you've had to look upon that ugly Master Ika's face. You are truly fortunate. Then look what suddenly appears as if from nowhere. I knew my luck had to end"
Ika's face flushed red with anger as Robin stood smiling trying to trick him into a fight.
"Your luck is over is correct outlaw" he bellowed throwing a fast punch into the younger mans stomach. Robin cringed in pain at the impact but struggled to pull himself upright and smile despite what he felt.
"Confirming what I always knew about you Ika-that you are a coward" Robin continued to egg on the mercenary.
Ika swung back and punched the outlaw full face in the eye snapping his head back against the post behind him. Robin shook his head repeatedly trying to clear it, his left eye instantly discoloring and swelling closed. "Is that the move of a coward"? Ika asked with a laugh.
"Yes" Robin returned firmly but Ika's temper knew no bounds and he swung around kick punching the legend in the chest with all his weight. Robin could feel his ribs crack under the blow doubling the outlaw as much as the chains would allow him to go.
Robin, slowly this time, pulled himself back up coughing, a trickle of blood making its way down his chin from the corner of his mouth. This was not going quite as Robin had planned.
"It’s easy to beat a man to a pulp who cannot defend himself" he continued to cough as Ika's eyes flashed anger to the point of madness. "You beat me once by luck Robin Hood" he hissed at the outlaw withdrawing a key from behind the post inserting it into the locks of the shackles.
"You'll not beat me again". As the shackles came unlocked, Robin allowed himself to slump to the ground holding his ribs in an attempt to give the Asian warrior a false sense of security. As Ika came to tower over him, he clenched both fists together and swung up catching Ika in the face sending him staggering backwards and shafts of pain through Robin's body. The young outlaw ignored the pain and leapt to his feet and raced forward, both hands still clenched together to compensate for the injuries and swung around catching him in the jaw. Then Robin, with everything he had, gave a spin kick in the chest, knocking the larger man back against the wall striking his head against stone knocking him unconscious. Robin also fell to his knees holding his ribs as if they were on fire. But he forced this pain from his head made his way back to his feet and hurried towards the front gate catching the approach of a single guard, sword drawn.
The last part of the battle between Robin and Master Ika was watched by an irate Sir Guy from the tower window. "What is that fool doing" he mumbled running for the courtyard. Just as Guy emerged through the stone archway with three soldiers he grabbed along the way, he saw Robin begin to fight the one armed guard and no doubt would have won had Sir Guy not sent in his other three armed guard. Guy strode with confidence across the distance separating him from Robin.
"Escape is impossible Fitzsooth" he said bluntly.
"But you wont mind if I continue to try" Robin whispered, then dropped to his knees and face first into the dirt. "Damn. Look at him! You'll pay for this Ika" Guy said in disgust. The outlaw was bloody and bruised and Marion was sure to be angry. "Guards! Take them both inside and send for my personal physician" he paused "and get me a goblet of wine" and he waved off the guard and headed back towards the castle "Now things are going to be twice as difficult"!
The End of Chapter Two
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