As the Sherwood outlaws were hugging, in Robin’s room, Cho was absolutely enraged, with the way The Master had treated him. Never has a warrior of his been treated in such a manner. The Master had gone to far. She was only interested in making money at the tournament. Cho started the battles to determine the best fighters. As it was in his home, as it should be.
Cho angrily paced back and forth. His face twisted in rage. Ranting and raving, nearly foaming at the mouth. When Robin entered the room, he headed straight for the window. He found his chair waiting for him. He quietly sat down and looked out his window. Every since he was taken to this room, he spent many free hours staring out the window. Cho didn’t even notice him now as he sat by it. Robin gazed out the window. Nero came up to him and sat next to him, placing his large head in his lap. Robin reached down and gently stroked his head. Being sure to keep his face turned away. He didn’t want Cho to see that he had the biggest grin on his face. His friends had found him!
His face felt flushed at the thought. His friends would be able to help him and his new friends escape from this hell. Robin reached up and touched his ear. His grin only grew bigger, he could still smell Marion on him. She was so close to him. Her words of love would keep him going now.
Robin heard a door open, turning he spied Alan running into the room.
"Cho you're not going to believe this!" Alan let out between anxious breaths.
"Alan, I think I am going to kill your sister," Cho spit out in a rage.
"You’ll have to wait in line Cho," Alan laughed. Immediately noticing that he wasn’t in a joking mood, Alan tried again to inform him of his news.
"Listen Cho, I heard that your people will be arriving early."
Cho grabbed Alan by his shirt. Hearing the news, Robin quickly stood up.
"When will they come?" Cho’s face had turned grave. The look he gave Alan frightened him.
"Tomorrow Cho. That's what The Master said."
Releasing Alan, Cho started pacing again. This time his pacing took on a different vein. It was more like an animal in a cage. Robin had never seen Cho look like this before. He actually seemed frightened.
"We have to step up King Richard’s training," Cho’s pacing grew faster. "We have to make sure he's ready to meet them."
Alan walked into Cho’s pacing path. Cho stopped when he came upon him. Alan’s eyes searched into Cho’s face. He was shocked to see fear in his eyes.
"Cho, King Richard is ready. I don’t think he could be any readier."
Gazing deeper, Alan could see something else in his eyes. It wasn’t fear…it was something else. As quick as it was there, it was gone. Cho pushed it back to where he kept it hidden for years. It was enough that Alan was able to glimpse it. Not only did Alan see it, but Robin saw it too. He knew what it was. He had seen it before, in Sir Guys eyes when they battled. It was animosity, animosity, and respect of a rival. Robin tried to pursue it.
"So they're coming early." Robin tried to sound flippant. "Like Alan said, I’m ready."
Cho’s back arched. The look he gave Robin froze him. "Only I truly know what you will have to face."
Stepping up to Robin, he brought his nun-chucks out.
"You think you are ready?" he screamed, his voice was a high pitched yell.
"Are you ready for this?" Cho roared, as he brought the nun-chucks around. Robin was prepared for them. Knocking the chair back, he jumped out of the way. Cho was on a rampage, he came at Robin relentlessly. Each time Robin had to duck, twist, and turn out of the way of the deadly weapons. He was working on pure instinct now. Alan tried to hold Cho back, for appearances; it looked like he was going to kill Robin.
"Cho stop!" Alan cried out. As he tried to grab his arm, Cho struck him in the head. Alan fell to the ground unconscious. Nero and Caligula were confused. They were suppose to protect Robin, but not from their master.
Each time Cho brought the weapon forward, Robin was able to counter a move. Cho was unmerciful in his blows; he never let up. Robin was fighting for his life. He was surprised at how long Cho was lasting. They fought for more than an hour, when Cho suddenly stopped. His breaths were in short pants. Robin had sweat pouring off him from trying to avoid the blows, but in all the swings Cho brought upon him, not one had touched him.
Cho slowly put the weapons away. Robin was still braced for an attack, putting his hands together Cho bowed slowly to Robin. As he rose, his eyes looked at Robin in a way that he never thought he would see. There was respect in his eyes. Yes, Robin thought, there was respect there.
"You are ready now," Cho whispered, an inscrutable smile on his face.
A knowing smile came across Robin’s face. He was giving him his last lesson. He wanted to know if Robin was ready for his people, and Robin passed his test with the highest marks. Cho moved over to Alan and picked him up. With the help of Robin, they placed him on his bed.
Alan groaned out in pain, clutching his head. "Why’d you do that?" he moaned.
Cho silently walked to a small bowl of water. Dipping a rag in it, he returned to the bed. Gently placing the rag on Alan’s head he said, "Let them come. My Warrior is ready."
He began padding the wet rat where he hit Alan on the head. Robin stood by the bedside, still trying to catch his breath. He was amazed at how Cho was able to fight like that for so long. Robin's body involuntarily shuddered, what was this man like in his youth?
As Cho soothed Alan’s wound, Robin walked back to his window. Righting his chair, he sat in it. He strained to look over the walls of the Monastery. To try to catch a glimpse of Cho’s people. Nero sat by his side. Robin absently stroked his head. Hopefully, Marion and the others would be able to help Robin escape from this place before he had to fight Cho’s countrymen. If Cho almost defeated Robin at his age, how could Robin hope to defeat a fighter from Cho’s country. He would be much younger and stronger than Cho. Robin tried not to think of this, as he sat on his chair and waited for his next fight. He looked forward to it. Marion and his friends would be there. He slowly stroked Nero's back, the large dog lay his head in Robin’s lap. He waited with him, staying with him. Protecting him, for it was his reason for living now.
"Marion why do I have to wear this?" Little John groaned.
Marion was fixing the midnight blue ascot that she borrowed from the rich baron. The same one they had borrowed the carriage from.
"Now Little John," Marion sighed, as she fussed with the ascot. "The Master seems to like you. This will help make you more appealing to her."
"You really think she likes me?" Little John shuddered at the thought. She had an evil look in her eyes. He wasn’t looking forward having to gaze at that look again.
"Of course she does Little John." Marion finished tying the ascot. She gave Little John a reassuring pat on his chest.
"Trust me. A woman knows these things."
"I think Ian likes him too." Ralph chuckled from the bed. He was sitting on the edge. Legs swinging. His eyes were bright and laughing.
Little John took a large swallow. "You th…think he does?’ he stuttered.
"Trust me," Ralph winked. "A man knows these things."
Little John slowly shook his head. Worry creased his brow. Marion scolded Ralph. "Ralph stop teasing him!"
"Sure Marion. It's just it could help if he worked on Ian as well as the Master."
"Marion, I don’t want to work on Ian!" Little John cried out.
"Don’t worry Little John you won’t have to. The Master is who we need you to be close to. Besides, I think Ian is harmless." Marion gave Ralph an intense look that could melt stone. It told him that he had better let it drop. Subdued by it he did.
"I hope so," Little John groaned.
"Good then let's go. The fights are suppose to start by sunset. I want to be sure to get there early enough for you to have a private conversation with the Master."
"Ralph said he’ll show us around while you and Little John are at the fights," Tuck told Marion. Marion nodded her agreement.
"Hopefully with most of the guests attending the fights, there won’t be to many guards to stop you. Look around Tuck, Kemal. Try to find somewhere we can use as a quick escape. I’m sure there has to be some hidden exit in this old monastery."
Ralph jumped off the bed. "Now that I’m your drunk husband David, I’ll be able to go to places that Ralph couldn’t."
Marion’s face glowed at the news that a plan was slowly forming.
"Try to push it as far as you can go. With Robin constantly under guard, along with those two monsters that was constantly guarding him. We have to come up with another plan to help him escape."
Pulling on her tight leather corset Marion wiggled her torso, so that a little more of her bosom was revealed. She had to keep up appearances of an Amazon.
Reaching for the doorknob, she opened the door. Motioning for Little John to leave first, she gaily said, "Well brother, let's be off."
Little John gracefully bowed, "Thank you sister."
"Be careful!" Marion warned the others, before she closed the door.
Tuck and Kemal gave Ralph a threatening stare.
"Hey careful is my middle name!" he laughed.
"It better be, if it isn’t its going to be deceased," Kemal said, as he slapped his hand in his fist. Ralph gulped hard, giving a half-hearted smile he gasped as Tuck poured a bottle of ale on him. They had to keep up appearances of the drunken lord. Ralph sadly sighed, what a waste of a good bottle of Ale, he thought. Tuck handed the almost empty bottle to Ralph.
He took a couple of swigs of what was left in the bottle. He had to reek of ale from the inside as well as the out. When they felt that David was drunk enough, they left the room. David staggered down the hallways. Michael and Kemal chased after the poor drunken lord.
Marion and Little John entered the Arena together. The strong sent of sweat emanated from all around. There were some warriors training in the center ring. The stands were just starting to fill up with guests. All had heard of the new fighter and wanted to see if he was as good as the Lords and Ladies that attended the last fight said he was. Searching around the crowd, Marion spied the Master sitting in the center of the arena. Like a queen bee, Marion thought.
The Master also was searching around the Arena. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw Elizabeth enter with Johnny. When her eyes met Elizabeth, she motioned them to come to her.
Marion nodded her recognition to the Master.
"Here we go Little John. Remember, try to ask her as much as you can about Robin. OOPS." Marion corrected herself. "I mean about King Richard. We can’t let her know that she has Robin Hood in her hands. He has enough trouble." Marion murmured.
"Don’t worry Marion. I’ll find out all I can."
As they approached where the Master sat, Little John also saw Ian sitting next to her. He gave Little John a shy little smile. Little John gulped hard, he repeated in his head repeatedly.
"It's for Robin. It's for Robin."
"Glad you're early," The Master smiled. She motioned for Little John to sit to the left of her. Ian sat at her right. Little John was overjoyed that he wouldn’t have to sit next to Ian. As he sat next to The Master, Marion stood in front of them, her hands planted on her hips.
"Where do I sit?" She asked Her voice showed she was clearly upset.
"Oh, sorry Elizabeth, Uh Ian?" The Master motioned with her eyes for Ian to let Elizabeth sit there. Ian didn’t hesitate. He rose slowly, bowing gracefully for her to sit down. Marion thanked him and sat next to The Master. They then started a lively conversation on the proper way to care for a knife.
Strolling over to Little Johns left side, Ian ordered the individual to leave his seat. The man was at first hesitant. Ian snapped his fingers. Two guards rushed in to give a little assistance to the man. The man unwilling relinquished his seat to him. As he was dragged away kicking and screaming out of the arena, Ian smoothed his coat down and sat next to Little John. Giving Little John coy, sideways glances as The Master and Marion carried on their conversation. Little John stared ahead, not wanting to make eye contact with the infatuated man. Deep inside Little John was screaming.
"FOR ROBIN! FOR ROBIN!"
As Marion carried on with her conversation, The Master would find a reason to turn her head and look at Little John. Slowly the Masters conversation drifted from Marion to Little John. Marion didn’t mind, it gave her time to investigate the arena more closely. She scanned around the arena, checking out every exit; every possible scenario for helping his escape. Each time she would think of a way for him to escape from the arena, she could also think of a way of it failing. She had to come up with something foolproof. She prayed that the little walk Tuck, Kemal, and Ralph went on would give them a little more information to aid them in their escape plan.
"So how long have you been in charge?" Little John asked The Master.
"For almost 5 years."
"You must have been a baby," Little John remarked. The Master blushed.
"Well, I’ve always been one to take advantage of a situation. Even at a young age."
"I must say, what you have done here is nothing short of spectacular." Little John said in praise.
"Really?" The Master reached over and placed her hand on Little Johns hand.
It took all of Little Johns restraint to keep him from jerking his hand away. He looked down at her. His sapphire blue eyes smiled at her. The Master was positively infatuated by the man. She hoped he felt the same way.
"I like how you have things managed here. You do seem to have everything under control." She shivered as she heard his deep voice.
This was a foreign feeling for her. She really didn’t know how to deal with it. She was used to being under control, the person in charge. Being near this gentle giant, all she wanted to do now was listen to his melodious voice. She would answer his questions with a nod and a murmur. The time passed away quickly. Before she knew it, it was time for the first battle.
Marion heard a cheer come from the center of the crowd. She searched in the direction the cheer came from. The crowd parted and in walked Cho. Behind him was Robin; followed by the two dogs and his ever-present guard. Cho and Robin walked to the center of the ring. The crowd began to chant a cheer.
"King Richard! King Richard!"
The Master giggled. "I bet these noblemen never thought they would be cheering for King Richard."
"No I suppose they wouldn’t," Marion agreed with her.
Robin was hunting around the crowd, searching for Marion and the others. He finally found her, sitting of all places - right next to the Master! Little John… dressed as a dandy, was sitting next to the Master. Robin shook his head, was he seeing right? Was the Master looking at Little John in THAT way? From the uncomfortable look in Little Johns face, it only confirmed what Robin thought.
As the cheers died down Cho and Robin walked to the outside of the ring. The other fighter entered the ring. The trainer entered first, followed by someone that didn’t look like a fighter at all. He was just a young innocent looking man. He was very short, almost a midget. Slight of frame, his eyes darted back and forth in fear.
Cho walked to the center of the ring to talk to the young mans trainer. After a few seconds of conversation, Cho returned.
"The man wishes to use a staff," Cho informed Robin.
"No Weapons," Robin stated again, his eyes never leaving Marion.
"NO WEAPONS!" Cho called out.
A roar was heard from the crowd. It was as they were told. This fighter was unique, he used no weapons. The Master nodded her approval.
"If you’ll excuse me Johnny. I have to introduce the fight."
"Of course," Little John said. Bowing slightly, granting her permission.
"Lords and Barons, Ladies and Baronesses," the master began.
"We now have our main battle for the day. Our first fighter is a new one to the Arena. But I’m told he has a unique style of fighting. Give a warm welcome to Big John!" The Crowd roared in laughter. Little Johns face grew scarlet. They were making fun of him. Big John groveled to the center of the ring. He shyly brought his hands up. The crowd cheered him. As the crowd died down, he walked back to his trainer. The Master continued her introductions.
"And now our newest fighter. One who I’m sure you’ve all heard about. Who once again has broken precedence, by choosing not to use any weapons. I give you…King Richard!"
Urged by Cho, Robin strode to the center of the arena. The crowd roared as Robin slowly turned in a circle. Marion and Little John stood up and cheered him on.
"I can’t wait to see him fight!" Marion enthused as she sat back down.
As the crowd died down and Robin returned to Cho, The Master threw her hands in the air and yelled out. "Let the games begin!"
End of Part Eighteen
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