Robin saw the biggest grin blossom on Cho's face. He felt a chill run up his spine.
"Let's go, your Royal Highness!" Cho chuckled. Grabbing him by the manacles he started dragging him out of the arena and deeper into the monastery.
"Cho, can I help?" Alan asked. He was still carrying Robin’s weapons.
"You can until I get started. Then you have to leave!" Cho gave him a look that he meant what he said.
"Great!" Alan agreed.
Cho pulled Robin down the dark corridors. The two massive dogs ran on ahead. Robin was led into the bowels of the Monastery. His thoughts turned to what was going to happen to him now. Cho dragged Robin as he fought him all the way. When it seemed they couldn’t go down any further, they came upon a solid metal door. The dogs waited at the doorway. Cho kicked the steel door open. The dogs ran in ahead. The room had been used by the previous owners for aging wine. Cho changed it around, to accommodate himself. Alan walked in first, laying Robin’s weapons on a small table. He then began to help Cho with Robin.
Robin was brought to an area that Cho had specially prepared. There were manacles hanging from the ceiling and two were welded into the floor. The dogs rushed to a corner of the room. A small bed of linen was laid out for them. They plopped themselves on the floor next to each other. They lay their heads on their large paws, as they watched their master at work.
Taking the manacles off Robin, Cho and Alan pulled his hands up and locked the hanging manacles on each wrist. Leaving Robin's arms spread out wide. The manacles on the floor were locked onto his ankles. Pulling on a chain attached to the ones locked on his wrists. Cho stretched Robin’s arms as far out as they would reach. Robin grunted out in pain, as his arms were pulled taught. He hung spread eagle. Robin started to become frightened, as his imagination ran wild with unpleasant ideas on what Cho was going to do to him. He tried to shift his weight as the manacles cruelly bit into his wrists and ankles.
Testing the chains, Cho made sure they were taunt enough. Satisfied, he went behind Robin to a small table, humming to himself as he prepared things. He brought out some spikes similar to what Curtis used on Robin in the Arena, only on a smaller scale. Alan swallowed hard when he saw them.
"I think I’ll leave you now," he said in a hushed voice. He looked up at Robin and actually gave him a sympathetic look. Leaving quickly, he closed the door behind him.
Cho continued to prepare things behind Robin’s back. Robin kept turning his head around, as he tried to see what the Mongolian was up to. Taking a knife out, Cho started cutting away Robin’s tunic.
As the tunic was pulled off, Marion’s scarf tumbled out. Cho reached down and picked it up. Going around Robin, he showed it to him.
"For a lady friend?" he asked.
Robin just stared blankly at it. Looking at it had reminded him that Marion would not be missing him for at least one more day.
Cho could see that the scarf meant something to Robin. Turning, he walked to a wall opposite of Robin. Placing the scarf on a small hook, he quietly said.
"I think I will put it up here for now."
Cho then walked behind Robin. Robin could hear him pick something up. He felt Cho’s hands reach out from behind and stuffed something into his mouth. He tried to spit it out but Cho pulled a thick piece of raw hide around Robin’s mouth.
"Bite down!" he ordered Robin.
Robin shook his head in refusal. Cho brought one hand down and pressed into an area in the small of Robin’s back. The pain was excruciating.
"Bite down!" he angrily repeated. Unable to endure the pain, Robin opened his mouth and bit down on the mouthpiece that Cho inserted. Cho then pulled the raw hide back and tied it down behind Robin’s head. He gently pulled on Robin’s long hair and tied it back. Walking around him, he stared at Robin. A small smile creased his face.
"I am going to explain to you what I am about to do." Cho began to explain to Robin, he paced the floor. His hands gesticulating as he stressed certain points.
"In my land my people train warriors for staged battles. I was born into this art. I was taught by my father and master on how to train ordinary men to be Warriors."
Stopping in front of Robin, he looked up at him. He searched hard into Robin’s eyes, trying to see if he was right. If his instincts were true about what he felt about him. Robin stared back at Cho. He had no idea what Cho had planned for him, but he wasn’t going to show him any fear. He kept his head held high. Andrew MacGregor had tried to teach him the ways of being a knight. He knew one of them was not to show your opponent any fear. He would try to honor what he was taught to him. Let this barbarian know how a true knight acts in the face of danger. Cho could see the defiance in Robin’s eyes; he just shook his head at this. He knew that would be hardest thing for him to break. Cho then continued.
"Sometimes we find a man that is not so ordinary. I believe you are such a man," Cho whispered. "As of now your former life is over. You are mine now. I am going to train you in the art of Arena fighting. For the next week, I will begin your training the way I was taught by my masters. From this moment on you will know only three things in life. To sleep, to eat, and to fight! That will be all that is important to you, nothing else!"
Cho hesitated, looking deep into Robin’s eyes. Trying to see if something
else was there, it was there! It thrilled Cho to think he was this close,
after all the years he spent in the monastery. Satisfied, he walked behind
Robin. Humming once again to himself, he continued with his explanation.
"Now I will let you will know the highest level of pain."
Robin felt Cho feeling along his spine. A cold sting of metal and then he felt the most horrible pain he had every felt in his life. He bucked against the chains that held him. His back arched involuntarily. Every muscle in his body pulled tight. His body contorted and twisted, pulling against the manacles. He clamped on the bit tightly. He bit as hard as he could to try to survive the excruciating agony.
He tried to cry out, but the mouthpiece muffled his moans. He could feel the pain to his very heart, his very soul. Cho quickly pulled the spike out. Relieved of the spike, Robin’s body hung loose in the chains. Totally exhausted, his heavy breathing echoed in the large room. Cho moved around Robin. He stared up at his new warrior. He saw he was pale; sweat was pouring out of him. The spike was in only for a few seconds. Yet, to Robin it felt like an eternity.
"That was the highest level of pain," Cho coldly stated. "You now know what you have to look forward to. I will start you at the lowest level. I will teach you how to live with the pain. You will learn how to block it. How to endure it. For once in the ring, all you will know is pain. It is my job to help you learn how to do this."
Cho walked behind Robin. He again felt the fingers looking for its mark. He steeled himself as he felt the cold sting of the pick. As it was inserted, compared to the first, Robin had hardly felt it go in. Then it hit him! Robin squirmed in the chains, as the pain seemed to increase. It rushed through his body, he could feel it from the tip of his toes to the top of his head. Cho came around and stared at his new charge. He saw he was trying to fight the pain. Cho knew this was wrong.
"You have to find within you a way to give into the pain." Cho preached to Robin. The sound of Robin grunting and moaning permeated the room. The two dogs brought their heads up at the sound. Their heads tilted from side to side as they herd Robin's muffled cries of pain.
"You must use hate," Cho reprimanded Robin. He stepped up to Robin. Holding him by the shoulders, he shook him. Robin’s eyes closed, as he struggled for a way to block the pain.
"Open your eyes!" Cho yelled at Robin. Robin slowly opened them. His brows were knit in pain. Cho released Robin. Stepping back, he cried out.
"Hate is the strongest emotion. Give into it. Hate me." Cho shouted, as he hit himself on the chest. Pointing around he yelled. "Hate this place. Hate what we are doing to you! Use this emotion to help you endure this agony!"
Robin could faintly hear what Cho said through the haze of pain. He knew he had to do something to help him fight this pain. Hate was not an emotion that Robin would give into. He had to try something else.
Searching around, he tried to focus on anything that would help him to endure the torment that he was going through. He heard Cho shouting at him, as he looked in Cho’s direction. It was then that Robin spied Marion’s scarf hanging on the wall. That was it! He tried to focus on it. He thought of his Marion. Her saw her gentle face looking at him. Her smile, her wonderful blue eyes. As the pain seemed to intensify, Robin focused more on the scarf. His eyes clouded up. He tried to concentrate. He could faintly hear Cho yelling at him to use hate.
Robin decided to use the opposite, love. He focused on the love he felt for Marion. As the hours wore on, he concentrated more on the scarf. As the pain seemed to grow, his body feeling like it was on fire; Robin thoughts were only of Marion. Slowly she started to become real to him. Slowly she began to form in front of him. His mind, trying to cope with the torture brought Marion to him.
He saw her standing in front of him. She was looking up at him with her sad eyes. Robin smiled down at her. Sweat poured down his face from the torture he was suffering. Seeing Marion before him helped him to endure it. He shook from the strain. Focusing on Marion, he was able to block it out. Having that to grasp with, was what helped him to bear the torment that Cho was putting through.
As the hours passed, Cho was pleased with his new warrior's ability to endure the pain. When he saw Robin was staring at him, the hate he asked for was at last in his eyes. The edges of Robin’s mouth slowly rose. The smile on him was strained but the hate was there. Cho was startled, it was going better than he thought.
He made the decision to try a second pick. Quickly going to Robin’s back, he slowly inserted another pick. Robin shuddered as it entered him. He endured the pain of the second pick. Cho walked around again. Robin’s eyes glazed over from the pain, but he was still conscious. Cho was ecstatic. Robin shook from the strain of fighting off the pain. His vision of Marion grew stronger. She stood by his side now. Smiling at him, giving him the strength he needed.
The hours wore on, yet Robin still remained alert. Through all the pain, he was enduring, he was still conscious, his eyes clear. It was then Cho had a scary thought, should he dare?
Should he dare to try a third this early in the session? It was only the first day. Yet, this new warrior had endured six hours of the picks inserted in his back. Most other charges of Cho had not lasted more than one hour with only the first pick. Yet here was this man, who had endured two picks for over six hours, and in all that time, Robin looked strong. Cho wondered if he just might be able to.
Robin’s eyes began to grow clearer. He stared at Cho. His eyes focusing on Mongolian, or so Cho had thought. Robin was really staring at the scarf behind him. Marion was laughing now; her vision was the only thing real to Robin. Everything else was only part of a nightmare.
Cho decided this warrior was ready. He would try a third one. He slowly walked to the table. Picking up a small pick, he rolled it around in his hand. Looking at it, examining it, turning around he faced Robin’s back. The two picks already inserted were moving up and down with the deep breaths that Robin was taking in. Cho then took the small pick, and finding the precise location taught to him by his master. He slowly inserted it into Robin’s back. At first, Robin shuddered. Cho ran around the front to see how he was coping with the third.
Robin’s face was dripping in sweat from the strain. His body went rigid with the exertion of fighting this never-ending pain. He tried to cope with the third. His eyes grew small with the effort of trying to block it out. He had almost succeeded. He did endure it for a while, but in the end, even Marion’s image could not help him. His body, unable to endure the pain any longer relinquished itself. Robin’s vision slowly faded away. Marion’s eyes were the last thing he saw before he succumbed to the welcomed darkness. His head fell to his chest, as he embraced the pain free comfort given by the blackness.
As Robin finally blacked out, Cho jumped in the air. He yelled out in triumph at the top of his lungs. The two dogs stood and ran to their master. Cho hugged the two giants.
"Do you know what this means boys?" he asked his only companions. "He lasted the longest of any man I have ever trained. After all these years, I have found him at last; in this godforsaken land. This is the Greatest Warrior that I have been looking for! With this warriors help I will be able to bring honor back to my family."
Cho reached out, grabbing Robin’s hanging head and kissed him on it.
"You are a gift to me. And I will never let you go!" Cho shouted out in glee. Grinning from ear to hear, he rushed around Robin. Slowly he pulled the picks out. Robin had gone far beyond anything he had hoped for. He would give him a little rest for now. He deserved that. Cho then stared to clean off Robins tortured body. The dogs sat down and watched their master. Cho hummed a little tune from his childhood as he continued to clean his Greatest Warrior. The three weeks now didn’t seem long enough. There was so much for him to do. The dog’s ears perked up, feeling the happiness coming from their master. There tails wagged in time to the tune hummed by Cho. After Cho finished cleaning Robin off, he went to get him something to eat.
"You watch after him boys!" he called out as he opened the door. "Don't let anything happen to him. With him we’ll be able to go home." Cho left, closing the heavy steel door behind him. The dogs lay at the feet of Robin. They would guard him with their very lives until their master came back. Robin hung in the chains. His body and mind struggled to recover, trying to cope. Robin slept uneasy in that dark room, but he did sleep. He dreamt of Marion, Sherwood Forest, and his friends.
End of Part Five
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