The door was flung open and Cho and Alan carried Robin into the room. They walked to the bed and slowly placed him on it. Robin groaned as he was carefully laid down. The two dogs went to their corner. Laying down they started cleaning themselves of the battle.
"Undress him!" Cho ordered Alan. Alan started to unlace Robin’s gauntlets. Fresh blood was still on the metal spikes. Alan dropped the gory gauntlets on the floor. Cho went to his chest. Opening it, he started searching for something in it. Alan undid Robin’s shirt. Grabbing Robin’s hands, he pulled him up to a sitting position. Robin cringed at the pain he felt. Alan carefully pulled the shirt off and gently laid Robin down. Robin moaned out in pain, as he lay back down. The bruises on his chest and stomach were already forming. His chest was a mottled blue and purple.
Cho came up to Robin. He placed several small jars that he retrieved from the chest, on a table that stood next to the bed. Pushing Alan aside, he started to examine Robin carefully, feeling along each rib. Robin grimaced with each poke and prod. Cho found no bones were broken in the battle. He closed his eyes and sighed in relief for that.
"I remembered what you trained me to do," Robin whispered to Cho.
Cho eyes popped open. "Remembered what King Richard" Cho quietly asked.
"I concentrated, loosened my muscles; I kept the pain away." Cho smiled proudly at his warrior.
"Yes it is good you did King Richard. If not I think you would have been much worse than this." Patting Robin on the shoulder, he smiled down on him.
"You have done good. You have learned well."
"What are you talking about?" Alan asked, he was confused.
Cho continued to probe Robins injuries more carefully now. He could tell that Ox had hit Robin more on the stomach and chest area. The bruises showed the destructive path of Ox's’ anger.
"King Richard would have been hurt worse if it were not for my training. He used what I taught him. The lessons I have given him lessened the damage of the beating.
Robin took in a drawn breath as Cho hit a sensitive area. Cho could see the deep agony in his face. He was able to survive such a beating, but the pain was still there. Alan looked into Robin’s expressive eyes, he felt sympathy for him. He had come to respect Robin in the past few days. Cho told him not to get close to him, but he couldn’t help it. There was more to King Richard. He wasn’t just a slave. He was special. Cho refused to see that. Alan’s head jerked around as Cho’s door was flung open. The two dogs ran towards the door. They stopped when the Master briskly came in. Cho and Alan stood back as she came up to Robin.
"How is he?" she asked. Her voice betrayed her concern. "And don’t lie to me!" she warned them. "I want to know will he be able to fight." She stood by Robin. Her eyes ran across his bruised form.
"No broken bones." Cho quietly reported. The Master let out a sigh of relief…that at least.
"But will he be ready for the tournament? Will he be healthy enough to fight in the Main battle?" Her eyes never left Robin’s form.
Cho silently nodded his head yes. "Given time Master, Yes. I have things here that will help him to heal quickly."
The Master gently placed her hand on Robin’s slowly rising stomach. Robin was breathing in deeply as the pain coursed through his battered body. The Master lightly pushed down on Robins sore stomach. He jerked up at the sharp pain, letting out a soft moan.
The master whirled around on her heels. The fury in her eyes had spread to her face. "He's in a lot of pain Cho! Can you guarantee me he will be ready? I have a lot of money ridding on him!"
Cho bowed his head to her. Keeping it down his voice was low and humble. "I vow to you Master. As a Kenosi Warrior that he will be well enough to fight when the tournament begins." Cho then brought his head up. He stood up to her. Eyes set, not flinching. She gazed back at him, not breaking the stare. She was then satisfied.
"Very well Cho. You had better be right. Because if your not?" She brought a small knife out as a warning. Fresh blood was still on the tip. Cho nodded his head in understanding. He had already made his greatest pledge to her. He had nothing else to say.
Content that Cho had meant what he said, she put the knife away. Turning, she stared down at Robin’s prone form.
"How are you feeling?" she softly asked Robin. He was startled by the gentleness in her voice.
"Like I was run over by an Ox," Robin hissed.
The Master gently laughed. Alan looked at her in surprise. It had been a long time since he had heard his sister laugh. She kneeled by the side of the bed, gently taking Robin’s hand in hers. Robin again was startled by her gentleness. He turned his head to look at her. There seemed to be a genuine concern in her eyes.
She slowly rubbed Robin’s hand, wondering at its strength. Her eyes rose up his body; stopping on his bruised chest. She then continued up to look into his face. His long brown hair lay across his face. She reached up to pull a stray strand from his eyes.
"Cho said he has things that can help you." She searched into his eyes. A look of care was in hers. "You did real good out there King Richard. Three of the men suffered wounds not made by the dogs."
Robin gave her a painful smile. "I did my job."
She patted him on the head. Like a child, he thought "Yes you did." She said in a soft soothing voice. Like talking to a dog, Robin thought.
That's what she was doing. She wasn’t being affectionate to him. She was consoling her animal, her property. She patted Robin on the head again. Robin jerked his head away from her hand. Her eyes smiled at him darkly. Grabbing his hair, she gave it a malevolent yank. "Yes you did well my pet. By the end of next week, you will do your job. You will win that tournament for me. Then I will have more money than Prince John himself." She released Robin, patting him again on the head. Robin’s eyes were black with hate.
The Master laughed at him. He was still just a commodity to her. Standing up she told Cho. "I’m having a room prepared for him."
Cho was immediately outraged, " I can take care of King Richard here." He boldly told her.
The Master pulled out her dagger so quickly that Cho had no time to react. She held it under his chin. With their master threatened, the dogs started to go into the attack.
"Call them off!" she hissed. The dagger cut into Cho’s neck. She was starting to draw blood.
"Back!" Cho ordered the two dogs. They instantly obeyed him. They went back to their corner.
"Now Cho," the master pulled the dagger back a little, still holding it near his throat.
"I have to much at stake here. I don’t want a repeat of what happened today." She brought the dagger down and pointed towards Robin.
"King Richard will now be under my guard. You will still care for him, but only under my protection. I want him ready in two days to start the first battles. Is that clear?" Bringing the dagger back up, she pressed the point to his chest to stress her point.
"Yes Master," Cho reluctantly agreed. "May I take the dogs?"
Taking the dagger away, she placed it back in her sheath. Looking up
she warmly smiled.
"Of course you may. After all, if it wasn’t for them, King Richard would have been in worse shape. Now get what ever you need to treat him. I want him ready for the first fight. It starts in two days." Cho bowed at the waist. "Yes Master," he humbly said.
Walking back to the small table, Cho grabbed the two small jars he removed from the chest. Placing them back in the chest, he closed and locked it. He then hefted it under his arms.
"We go then," he curtly said. The chest was all he needed from the room. Motioning to Alan the two helped Robin to stand. Alan reached down and grabbed Robin’s shirt and gauntlets. Robin waved them off as they tried to help him walk. He slowly and painfully walked on his own to the door. Turning, his eyes were half open from the strain of walking, "Well, are we going or not?"
The Master coyly smiled and headed to the door. As she neared it, something caught her eye. On the opposite wall, a blue silvery scarf hung on a hook. Walking up to it the Master reached up and took it down. Her face was lit up by the beauty of it.
"Whose is it?" she asked Cho. Her voice hushed in wonder.
Cho pointed towards Robin. "He carried it with him when he was taken."
Walking up to Robin, she showed him Marion’s scarf. "For a lady friend?" she asked him, as she ran it up and down in her hand.
"Yes," Robin curtly answered. Placing it around her neck, she tied it in front.
"I think I’ll keep it for myself."
She then opened the door and left with Marion’s scarf around her neck. Robin stared at her as she walked down the corridor. As Alan went to Robin to help him, he could see a deep hurt in Robin’s eyes. The spark that was always there was gone. The scarf was something special to him. Grabbing Robin by the arm, he helped him down the corridor. Robin accepted his help now. He felt numb inside. His hope of leaving this place was dying out. He was to be guarded now, twenty hours a day. His only reminder of Marion gone. If death came for him now, he would gladly go. Cho walked behind Robin, clutching his small chest at his side. The two dogs walked alongside him. He had seen the look in Robin’s eyes also.
The fight had gone out of him. Was it the scarf? Did it mean that much
to him? He wondered again of the woman that was so special to his warrior.
He shook his head of such thoughts. He couldn’t be concerned by them. He
had to work on King Richard. His salves and ointments would help him to
heal fast. The teas he had would strengthen him. He would be ready for
the main tournament. Cho walked more briskly now. He had a lot to do, and
so little time to do it.
Ralph sat in a dark corner of a small tavern. The tavern was almost empty now. It was in the middle of the day. Most of the patrons were home working on their farms. It was usually busier by the end of the day. That was when he would go to work. There was always someone’s pocket to pick.
The barmaid came up to the hooded man. She cleaned her hands on her dingy apron, coming up to the stranger, she jovially asked.
"Anythin’ else dearie? Or will that do you fo’ now?" She smiled down at him. Her checks were rosy red from working in the kitchens most of the morning. She was preparing the meals for the dinner crowd.
Ralph placed his hand over his tankard. "No thanks. I’m okay for now."
"Well if you needs anythin’ else dearie just give us a ‘oller." Hearing the door slam shut, the barmaid looked towards the front of the tavern. Three capped figures were standing by the door. "If you’ll excuse me, I ‘ave other patrons to attend to."
Ralph just waved her off. As she walked away, Ralph pulled out the small coin purse he had stolen off the hooded rider. Peering in he saw he only had two silver coins left. He had to get more money, and soon.
"’Ow are you doin’ dearie?" He heard the barmaid greeting the newcomers. Putting the coin purse back, he lifted the tankard to his mouth. Taking a large swig from it, he slammed it down on the faded wooden table. He wiped his mouth dry with the back of his hand.
"Fine," he heard a female voice answered her back.
"What can I do for you?" the barmaid asked in her most pleasant voice.
"We're looking for the owner of the gray stallion we saw in your stables," the female voice said. Ralph froze when he heard her mention the gray stallion. They could be friends of the hooded man he had stolen the horse from? They must be looking for him. Ralph still wore the cape he had stolen from the man. He reached up and pulled the hood down. Standing up, he kept his back to the newcomers. Ralph casually walked towards the back door. It was when he reached the door that he heard the Barmaid exclaim.
"Oh, well that's ‘im standing by the back door."
Opening the door, Ralph quickly ran out of the pub, slamming the door behind him.
End of Part Twelve
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