It was truly a joyous day in Sherwood Forest. Word had just arrived that in ten days time King Richard would return home on the shores of his native land. The anticipation of what the future would now hold kept farmers and merchants, peasants and noblemen talking and celebrating. But no one had heard a word from Prince John since this news had arrived via another sailing ship.
That in itself was amazing. In Sherwood, everyone celebrated, with the exception of Robin Hood. A huge dinner party had been prepared, wine flowed freely. Laughter could be heard all around the camp. The entire compound gathered around the makeshift table; with Marion, Robin, Little John and Tuck seated at the head.
Tuck stood up to lead the group in prayer.
"Dear Lord, we thank you for seeing to it that we have made it through these troubling times, through battle and starvation. Until the return of our Good King Richard. Thank you for returning him to us and thank you for the food you so richly bestowed upon us this day. Amen."
Everyone began eating, chatting gaily, as if without a care in the world. Robin Hood silently watched, satisfied that his people were safe and happy but it was obvious that he did not join in this joy.
"Robin...what is it"? Marion gently asked at Robin’s silence.
He looked down poking at his plate of food. "Guess I was just realizing how much I am going to have to account for when Richard arrives."
"Account for?" Now Marion was truly baffled by Robin’s statement. After all, he was the Outlaw of Sherwood, the champion of the people.
"All the things I should have done..." but these deep thoughts were interrupted with a woman’s scream from the opposite end of the table. Robin looked up in horror to see Prince John’s soldiers running from out of the woods attacking his men, grabbing women and children from the table.
They had remained hidden from the aristocracy all these years and now, as his brother returns, he finds Robin Hoods compound. Robin jumped up on the table running the length, kicking soldiers away from the children. His heart pounded in his chest as he saw his unprepared men fall under Prince John’s hand.
Swinging around he saw Marion engaging in swordplay with two large soldiers. Robin ran to her aide leaping from the table and spinning around hitting him with a double punch dropping him to the ground. Robin gave a quick look around making sure Prince John himself hadn't accompanied this troop but was not surprised to find that the coward apparently remained within the confines of his castle as he was no where to be seen.
The battle continued with many of Robin’s men being slaughtered but not without a number of the Princes finest going down right along side them. Robin turned to see one of the soldiers notching an arrow pointing it at Little Johns back as he was involved in another battle.
"John"! Screamed Robin but he quickly realized he could not be heard over the deafening noise.
The soldier released the arrow as John turned to face Robin. There was no time to think of the consequences-Robin flew through the air between John and the arrow, the arrow impaling itself in Robin’s chest. Robin hit the ground, lying motionless, an arrow buried half way up the shaft.
Little John stood stunned in horror. "Robin!" he gasped, dropping to his knees,
At Little Johns, scream the fighting slowed down, then stopped as everyone
saw the famous outlaw lying limply at John’s feet. Marion stifled a cry
as she ran to her friend’s side, tears spilling onto her cheeks. "Is he...?"
"I don't know, I cant feel him breathing," John responded; not allowing her to say the words.
Tuck pushed through the crowd forming around Robins still form. He bent an ear to the outlaw’s chest. "It is very weak," he whispered.
Robin’s eyes slowly opened and he coughed, blood began running from the corner of his mouth.
"Robin, don't move," Marion said softly, drying her cheeks on the back of her hand.
"Marion-get Olwyn," Robin whispered.
Without hesitating, Marion leaped to her feet and ran as fast as she could across the compound and down to the pond where Robin used to take her often to get away from the crowds or the pressure.
'Olwyn...please show yourself," Marion pleaded, tears again spilling onto her flushed cheeks.
Usually getting Olwyn's attention required repetitive calling and lots of fan fare but with one request sparkles appeared and Olwyn materialized before her.
"Olwyn, you must help Robin," she sobbed. "He's...dying!"
"I know," Olwyn said softly.
"Can’t you do anything?" Her eyes burned into his.
His response was barely audible 'No'.
"My God Olwyn, he looks upon you as a father. You can’t let him die like this," she cried out as if it caused her pain to say.
"His destiny is being fulfilled." Olwyn plainly stated.
"How can you be so cold?" Marion hissed. But as she grabbed his arm and turned him around to face her, she looked into his aging face and found a trail of tears falling down his cheeks.
"The chosen one shall lead his people against Prince Johns tyranny until
Richard the Lion Heart returns, then he will forfeit his life for one he loves." Olwyn sighed a deep sigh as if coming from his soul.
"Little John," Marion whispered, "Olwyn, this cannot be written in stone.
There must be a way to stop it. All the times Robin has cheated death...."
"Cheated death because of his ultimate destiny...Marion, there is nothing I can do"
By the time Olwyn and Marion reached the others, Prince John’s soldiers had disbanded to report back to their ruler of how they had killed the mighty outlaw leader.
Little John had pulled the arrow from Robin’s chest, snapping the bloodstained shaft in half casting it to the ground in horror.
Gently the blond giant lifted his fallen friend into his mighty arms carrying him back to the hut that he had called home for 13 years. He and Tuck sat by his bedside while the rest of the compound stood outside the door in prayer.
Tuck shook his head, listening to the death rattle as his lungs slowly filled with blood, his eyes glazing over.
Olwyn pulled back the fur flap and entered the somber chamber, Marion close on his heels. Olwyn walked to the side of Robin’s pallet, drawing in his breath before he got there and looked down into his young students brown eyes.
"Olwyn, I hoped you would come," Robin whispered with a gentle smile. "Do you remember our first meeting?"
Olwyn slumped down on a stool as if every drop of power had drained from the sorcerer, "You were as arrogant as Prince John himself," he smiled.
"And you made sure to knock me right on my backside," Robin coughed. He struggled to raise his hand to wipe the blood from his mouth, "You taught me patience and humility and I will never be able to thank you enough for that."
"It was my honor to teach such a strong and willing student." Olwyn took Robins blood-soaked hand in his.
"Objects are matter and matter is finite. But my will, my ability to move mind over matter...that's infinite," Robin repeated softly. One of the many lessons Olwyn had taught him. "I don't think we would have escaped from Lord Barrigone, had it not been for that lesson right Tuck?"
The Friar smiled in retrospect remembering how the 200 year old man wished only Robins soul to keep him from crossing over into hell.
"And how you were the only one able to retrieve that Golden Arrow from the hands of Brian the Blessed and destroy that Captain."
Little John was now caught up in memories "And how about your Aunt Alice?" Remembering how he had been caught by those three beautiful witches, to be their love slave.
Robin smiled, remembering all the adventures this group had been through together fighting the creations of the evil goddess Morgana, the horrible abomination that was so evil it was locked away in a fiery box and loaded into a magic castle to be buried forever until resurrected by an evil sorcerer. Only with Robin’s pureness of heart and the bottled tears of Brian the Blessed and Tucks cross could he destroy this creature before it destroyed the world. Robin became very ill as a result but there was another example of his readiness to lay down his life for others.
He thought nothing of risking himself while elevating the rich Norman lords of their purses of gold to redistribute to needy Saxons and Normans alike.
Robin closed his eyes-the gaping wound in his chest no longer causing him any pain. Again coughing, he opened his eyes to look upon Marion’s fair face remembering all that they had been through together since childhood.
He sighed, content in the knowledge that King Richard would watch out for his only love. So many times he must have broke her heart thinking him dead. Sir Guy of Gisborne almost saw to it in an attempt to win Marion for himself and eliminate Robin by blowing up the building he was in to bits.
Marion was devastated when she turned around with Sir Guy and saw the building explode knowing that Robin was still inside. She had no knowledge that Robin had managed to slip into the basement to safety.
When later that evening he had climbed into her window with a joyful reunion he recited a poem to her she had given to him as a child. Robin glanced over at Marion’s tear stained face and squeezed her hand with all of the strength he had left and closing his eyes remembered back to that room in Sir Guys castle...
"All other love is like the moon, which comes and goes like flowers on a plain."
He opened his eyes to see Marion weeping as he continued, "A bud that blooms and withers soon, a passing day that ends in rain."
Sobbing Marion joined in, as she had all those months ago. "All other love I flee for this, to find myself within you heart. To you I promise my first kiss, and with it swear we'll never part."
Weakly he pulled down on her hand until her face was almost to his as he quietly said "Marion, you have been everything to me all of my life yet I never told you how much you have meant to me." He closed his eyes and paused for a long moment then opened them again, tears escaping down his cheeks as he looked deeply into hers. "I never told you how much I love you."
This was more than Marion could take. She allowed her face to be buried in his long sable hair "I have always loved you too Robin," she sobbed against him. She lifted her head as he pulled down on her hand until her lips were next to his-then slowly, gently his lips met hers, softly conveying the magnitude of the love each of them felt for each other.
"Please Robin, don't leave me now. I love you so much," she cried against him.
"There...there," he tangled his fingers in her hair. "We have had more together in these years, than most have in a lifetime."
"Robin, you have saved so many, surely you can save yourself!" Little John pleaded.
He had faced an evil identical twin bent on killing him and robbing for a greedy prison warden, faced Vikings, Mongols, and black magic. Fought alongside with amazons, teamed up with a ghost named Percy and always helped the underdog. But at this point with Richards’s return, he accepted that his work was now through.
"Don't mourn my passing my friends, I am just going to be starting new adventures in a different place. Little John, Tuck, promise me you will see that Marion gets safely into King Richards hands and convey to the King my regrets for not meeting him myself."
They both nodded, tears pouring down their faces.
Robin looked at each one of them smiling, eyes soft and void of pain. "I love you all."
Slowly his eyes closed, and his hand slid from Marion’s hair, his body totally still.
Marion lifted her face from his hair staring in horror as Tuck spoke the words they all prayed they would never hear...
Thru a veil of tears, Olwyn was heard to say the words he had said 13 years earlier to this brave outlaw...
"Well done…young man."
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