Gut Instinct

By Thornedbud

 

Chapter One

 

The birds sang, the squirrels scurried up trees and the deer frolicked in the fields, all seemed to be right in Sherwood Forest . The sun was shinning brightly, with only a few clouds and there was even a light breeze; it seemed almost perfect. The outlaw camp was no exception, the children went to school and played, everyone had their tasks to carry out and everyone seemed content. With the exception of Robin Hood, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, and the more he tried to the harder it was to ignore.

Olwyn always told him to trust his instincts, but how far would that get him. Of course his closest friends could tell something was bothering him, Marion was the first to point it out over breakfast. She had asked him to tell her what was wrong, but he just shrugged and avoided the topic. What was he going to say, I think something bad is going to happen, though I don’t know, what, where, when, how or why. That would go over well. He could just imagine it, “Robin your stressed, take a nap.” or some other similar suggestion. along those lines.

 

“Alright Robin, tell me what is bothering you so much, and don’t even try to tell me it’s nothing because I won’t buy it.” Marion demanded exasperatedly ripping him from his thoughts .  Should he try to pretend nothings wrong or should he just tell her?

 

He sighed, resigned, and told her, “I have this feeling in my gut, something bad is going to happen. I don’t know what, but I just can’t shake this feeling.”

 

Instead of the worried, mildly annoyed look he expected he instead got a much different look of pure compassion. “Robin, as much as I may sometimes wish you weren’t, I know that you’re rarely wrong about feelings, so I won’t argue with you. But, I’d suggest having more than a gut feeling to go on before you alert the camp.”

 

“I know, I hadn’t planned on telling anyone, but you asked and I decided to spare us both the useless argument.” He finished and gave her a lopsided grin, he loved to argue with her, but he didn’t feel up to it now. There was silence for a while as they were both lost in their thoughts, when he suddenly spoke again:

 

“You know, I think I’ll go on a distribution run, there are a few homes outside of Royston that Prince John hit bad. Maybe it’ll clear my head a little.” He gazed at her, his deep brown eyes shinning with a combination of sadness and hope.

 

“Okay, be careful, and I know you want to go alone so wear your cloak; the last thing we need is your prediction becoming reality.” He smiled at her mothering and squeezed her hand in an effort to show her he’d be careful.

 

He jogged to the gold store and filled a small pouch, bringing it with him as he strode to the makeshift barn and readied his gray stallion. He mounted the loyal beast and rode off, going at a steady pace. Royston was only four hours away, the families he was visiting half an hour after. It was barely eleven o’clock and he had the whole day to distribute.

 

His first stop would be the widow Winston, whom had three children to care for by herself, the oldest seven, the youngest not quite a year. Prince John’s men in their never yielding compassion killed Fanny Winston’s husband Michael a year ago, because he couldn’t afford to pay his taxes and they’d already taken all his livestock. Robin’s band had been giving to her regularly ever since.

 

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Robin had barely gotten out of Sherwood when the terrible feeling in his gut multiplied tenfold nearly doubling him over in surprise. Annoyed that he couldn’t figure out a cause, he had more determination to shake it off and so sped up a bit faster. The feeling didn’t fade though, but got worse. It began to feel as if something was tearing at his stomach and after an hour of trying to ignore it he gave up and spurred his stallion into a gallop. If something was amiss in Royston he needed to get there quicker and if not, maybe the wind whipping in his face would take his tired mind off his prediction.

 

The wind blew in his face, ripping his hair back and cooling his perspiring skin. After awhile he stopped by a stream to water his horse and give the stallion a break before he continued. Keeping his promise to Marion he tossed his red cloak over his shoulders and once again mounted his horse. He began slow and worked his way back up to a gallop, not slowing till he reached Royston.

Robin dismounted once in Royston, and ventured in a little ways to find the tiny home of the Widow Winston. She was exceedingly glad to see him and tried to get him to stay for a while; he declined and made his way on the rest of his runs. Once he left he made his way further in heading to Little John’s former home; the home still housed his parents and sister. He knew Ingrid would be furious if she found out he was in Royston and never stopped by. He approached the little house that held Little John’s parents and younger sister and knocked softly; upon hearing footsteps he stepped back.

 

“If your looking for taxes or Johnny your can leave now because you won’t find either!” Ingrid sounded irritated as she opened the door and spoke.

           

“Well, I don’t collect taxes and I know where to find John.” He smiled at her, dimples showing and eyes playfully gleaming.

 

“Robin! What are you doing here? Your not alone are you, you know…” But she had no chance to finish Robin put his hand up to stop her.

 

“Spare me, I already got it from Marion .”

 

“She’s right you know, it isn’t very safe for ordinary people to travel alone, let alone you.”

 

“I’ll be fine.”

 

“So what are you doing in Royston?”

 

“Distributing to a few houses outside of it. How are you holding up?”

 

“We’re fine. By the way sorry about that greeting we’ve been getting soldiers asking for Johnny and demanding taxes, I thought you were one of them.” Anger dripped from her voice as she spoke and Robin formed a good idea of the tongue lashing those soldiers received.

 

“Do you need any gold?” He was worried about how much they took.

 

“No, it was strange, I just yelled at them and they backed down. They usually don’t.” She looked very puzzled by this reaction.

 

“That can only mean Prince John is planning something big. Have you heard anything lately about the good Prince?”

 

“No, I haven’t gone into town much, mother has taken ill.” As she said this Robin could see the worry lines form on her face.

 

“What’s wrong with her.

 

“A bit of a fever, she’s had it for a few days.”

 

“I remember how to make a tea Tuck always uses, if you have herbs. It usually works well.”

 

“What do you need, I’m willing to try anything.”

 

“A few live frogs to start.” He said this with a completely straight face, which caused the most horrified expression to grace Ingrid’s face.

 

“Relax, I’m just kidding, no frogs, alive or otherwise.”

           

“Robin that was terrible, you’re as bad as Johnny.” He couldn’t help laughing at her peeved expression. She led him into the house and into the kitchen. It took him a while to remember all the ingredients Tuck showed him, but he did and she gathered them. Once the tea was brewed they headed into the little room where John and Ingrid’s mother lay.

 

“Ingrid darling who’s coming in with you? Robin!” She saw his face and seemed to brighten up.

 

“Robin made a tea he learned from the Friar mother, it should bring the fever down.” Ingrid slowly brought the cup up to her mother’s mouth and helped her drink little sips.

 

“How’s my son, I haven’t seen him in a while.” She looked sad as she missed her son.

 

“He’s good, and things seemed to have died down for awhile so when I get back, I’ll tell him to come and visit you. I doubt he’ll argue.” Robin smiled he knew John loved to visit his family, but they were always so busy he didn’t get to very often. Robin talked a little longer and then took his leave to do his distribution. Before he left he slipped a few gold pieces in Ingrid’s hand and told her if the soldiers returned to simply give them the gold.


Robin had almost forgotten that terrible feeling when he was struck by it again not 20 feet from the home of the Little family. He shook his head, gritted his teeth in frustration and continued on his way, forcing himself to ignore it and just finish his runs. Patting his stallion, which he had been leading behind him since he entered the town, he put his hood back up and nervously glanced around at the houses and shops. He wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there was always a few soldiers running around in a town the size of Royston, and he couldn’t find a single one of them. When he saw the tavern clear of soldiers, he knew Prince John was planning something, but had no idea what. What could he do, nobody seemed to know anything about it. He, after a long debate with himself, decided to speed up his rounds and head back to camp to discuss it with the others.


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“Tell you what Andrew, if when your 16, you still want to fight Prince John, you’ll be welcomed in Sherwood, that is with permission from your parents.” Robin told the 10 year-old. Inside he hoped King Richard would have returned by then, and claimed back the throne. In six years, he hoped he’d be married, with a baby on the way. The thought of it made him smile, as much as he loved helping people, and as much as he knew he was needed, he often wished he wasn’t the chosen one. Then he would have time to be with Marion and they could have the family they both dreamed of, but those were dreams at this point and he brought his attention to the young whining boy in front of him.


“Do you really mean it? I can come and fight with you!” The young child’s eyes gleamed at the prospect and his smile lit Robin’s heart.


“Yes, but I’m sure by then you’ll have your sights set on some pretty girl.” He laughed as he teased Andrew, whose face screwed up at the thought of a girl.


“Robin, can I come fight too?” Andrew’s seven year-old sister, Abigale spoke now, her hopeful squeaky voice surprising Robin.


“Girls don’t fight Abigale!” The mocking tone was evident in Andrew’s voice.


Ooo, I’m going to have to tell
Marion you said that Andrew, you know she and many other women in Sherwood fight. A woman can fight just as well as a man, sometimes even better. I’ve seen many women knock down Prince John’s men, and I think Abigale here could do it too, with a bit of training. Abigale, if when you turn sixteen you want to fight Prince John, you will also be welcome.” He laughed at the children and looked up to see their mother coming to collect them.


“Come on children, Robin probably has lots to do. Sorry Robin, I’m sure if I let them they could talk till the sun goes down.” She shooed the children inside the door of the small adobe.


“I don’t doubt they could, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It reminds me what I’m fighting for.” She gave him a sympathetic nod and bid him goodbye, as he reciprocated with the same. He turned his gray the opposite way he’d come from and started back, just in time to see Ingrid running to him.


“Oh Robin, thank god I found you!” She was obviously out of breath and the look of desperation on her face sent a chill up Robin’s spine.


“Ingrid what’s wrong? Is your mother okay?”


“It’s not her, oh Robin, I just heard. Prince John…he found your camp!”


“What?!


“I don’t know how, one of the soldiers was sort of drunk at the tavern and he told everyone. He said that Prince John, has known for two days and has been planning a raid for today. Robin the soldier said he was going to kill everyone!” Ingrid had tears flowing steadily down her cheeks now and she searched Robin’s face for a reaction. She expected anger, she expected him to be ready for a challenge; what she got was the last thing she expected. Fear burned through his eyes like an unquenchable fire; fire and just a hint of something she had never before seen in Robin’s eyes, despair.


“I have to go, spread the word to the villages, not to venture anywhere near Sherwood and to try and keep off of the streets. I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll notify you once I know what has happened.” Ingrid nodded, as Robin quickly, with the experience of many years behind him mounted his steed and galloped off.


End of Chapter One


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