Marion could hear the crowd starting up the chant of King Richard. She searched for Robin through the crowd, but there were just to many in front of her. Pulling on Little Johns sleeved she called up to him.
"Is he here yet?" She yelled at the top of her lungs to be heard above the crowd. Instead of replying, Little John grabbed Marion by her hips. She let out a small gasp, as he lifted her above the crowd. Marion saw the crowd parting opposite of them, she saw Cho emerging from the crowd, followed by two guards and Robin. Her heart sank as she saw he was dressed in Red Leather. Motioning to Little John to let her down, she settled back on the ground. Leaning into Ralph, she yelled into his ear.
"He's wearing the red Leather outfit."
Ralph wore a serious look on his face. "Was he wearing a red belt?" Ralph asked her. As she nodded her head, Ralphís brows knit in concern. He brought his mouth to Marionís ear yelling into it. "Marion, we have to get Robin out of here as soon as possible. That Red belt is going to make the other Mongolians very mad. Cho said that only the Greatest Warrior could wear it. When they see Robin wearing it they're going to be furious. It's supposed to be a sacred thing for his clan. If they see an English man wearing it, I don't know what's going to happen."
Marion silently made a pledge, they had to get Robin out by tomorrow.
As Robin entered the main fighting ring, the crowds roars rang in his ears. The first thing he noticed as he entered the arena, was the change made for the Mongolians arrival. He saw three smaller rings within the larger one. At the outskirts of each ring were racks that held two of every weapon, to be used by the fighters.
Robin searched around the crowd, hoping to find his friends. He found The Master quickly enough. He smiled to himself as he saw that Prince John was sitting on her ornate chair. Ian sat to his left while a very rich looking Mongolian sat to his right. The Master sat three seats to Prince Johns right. Marion was no where to be found. He slowly scanned the arena, the Mongolians were directly across from where they stood. He saw the Mongolian trainers with the leashes of their warriors in hand. Their fighters heads hung low as they waited for the fight to begin. Robin flinched, as he felt a poke in the ribs.
"Concentrate, the fight is about to begin," Cho scolded him.
Robin saw one of the Mongolians staring at him. Even from the distance that they stood away from him, he could tell that he was clearly upset. He gesticulated in his direction. Getting the attention of Lu Chang, the agitated man pointed to his waist and then to Robin. Lu Chang's head slowly turned as he tried to find where the man was pointing. His eyes narrowed as he saw Robin wearing the Kenosi belt. His face flushed red in anger, Cho had this foreign dog wearing the Kenosi belt! Lu Chang was infuriated, he stormed across the arena towards Cho. Cho remained steadfast beside Robin, planting his feet, he prepared to face off the Mongolian's anger.
"You let it wear the belt!" Lu Chang cried out in a rage.
"The belt was given to me by my master, I chose for my warrior to wear it." Cho crossed his arms, as if to dare Lu Chang to take the belt from Robin.
"It is a disgrace to our people for one of them to wear the belt," Lu Chang warned him. "The others will be angered by this."
"Let them," Cho countered. "I was given the belt, to put on whom I seemed fit. I have chosen this one to wear it."
Lu Chang face grew ice cold. His voice dropped to a deadly whisper.
"Then so be it Cho." He whirled around to return with his people.
The Master had been viewing the altercation between Lu Chang and Cho. When they were done, she watched Lu Chang return to his side of the arena. She was given a signal by both sides to begin. She slowly rose from her chair.
"Lords and Barons, Ladies and Baronesses," She called out, swiftly getting the full attention of the elite crowd. "I also would like to address our most distinguished guests from the East, and especially Lord Liang. I promise you, the long trip here will be well worth it."
The Master executed a small bow in the direction of the Mongolians, and then to Lord Liang.
The Mongolian Lord answered her in his language. A small Mongolian stepped up, translating what was being said. When The Master first met this man, she was told he was called the Lord's voice.
"I am happy to attend the battles that our lands have held for twenty of your years. The long trip here has always been a pleasure for myself, and the other Lords. I am sorry to say, I am the only Lord that was willing to come to the tournament this year. My fellow Lords warned me not to come, that this will be the last tournament held. They said that this countries people were unable to defeat our warriors. But I told them they were wrong! I have faith that this tournament will be the best ever! I anticipate a battle that I will not forget my entire life."
Motioning his head towards Prince John, he said, "I, have come to watch a battle of the greatest warriors of the land! I pray you will not disappoint me."
Bowing his head towards the Lord, Prince John said, "You are always welcomed to my country, Lord Liang. After today, I think the other Lords will allow us to maintain the tournaments. For I think the tide has turned, and my country will win the tournament this year!"
The people in the stands let out a roar at Prince Johns' statement. Once the Lord's voice translated what was said, the Mongolian Lord did not show any emotion at Prince John's statement. He sat back, allowing the English crowd to believe they will win the tournament this year. He knew, by tomorrow night, he would be returning to his country, with a boat filled with the riches of this land.
The Master stood up, motioning the crowd to be quiet. "We all look forward to the finest battle we have had here in the Arena since the tournaments began. I assure you Lord Liang, that the five-year wait was well worth it. So let us not wait any further. Let the Tournament begin!" The Master yelled out. The crowd stood up in a cheer. Even Prince John joined them, he always loved to watch the tournament.
The Mongolian fighters immediately took their places. One Mongolian warrior stood in the center of each small circle. Robin noticed that they each wore an unusual glove. As one flexed his hand, something familiar popped out of the knuckle of the glove, a long sharp pick. Now Robin knew why Cho trained him to withstand pain. The Mongolians used it in their battles. Cho pulled Robin to the side. He shouted to be heard above the crowd, explaining to him what was coming.
"If they use the picks, you remember what I taught you. You are the only one here who will be able to withstand the pain."
Alan suddenly appeared alongside Robin. Giving him a comforting pat on the back. Robin felt for Marionís scarf on his chest. He smiled down at Alan, giving him a wink.
The English fighters were just coming into the arena. Robin noticed that each man wore a thick leather vest. To protect their backs from the deadly looking gloves, Robin reasoned. Cho motioned Robin to go to one of the circles. He walked out halting, to stop just inside the ring. He searched again into the crowd for Marion. Suddenly a familiar head popped above the crowd. It was Marion. She smiled at him, waving her hand before she was gobbled up by the crowd. She was here, Robin's heart sang. This gave him the incentive he needed to win the tournament. His friends were here!
The English fighters took their places. Each fighter stood steadfast across from the other. The Master walked slowly to center of the rings.
"I will explain for those new to the Arena," The Master started.
"There will be two fighters to a ring. Each fighter may have one choice of weapons to use. Only when one fighter is defeated, may the victor go to the next ring.
This will go on until only one man remains standing. There is also a new rule this year," The Master added. Cho and Alan listened carefully to what the Master was saying. As the Master spoke, Cho could see a wicked smile blossom on Lu Chang's face.
"This year it will be allowed to kill ones opponent to win the battle."
An angry roar was heard from the English trainers, the Mongolians remained quiet. The Master put up her hands to hush the protestations.
"The Mongolians feel that the fighters will fight with more intensity if they knew there life was in danger. Wanting to make this tournament extra special, I agreed to it." The Master turned with a flourish and returned to her chair. She brought her hand up. The fighters eyes were on her, as she dropped her hand the fights began.
As the Master dropped her hand, the other fighters ran for their weapons. Robin remained rooted where he was, his opponent also waited. As the English fighters took their weapons, the Mongolian fighters picked out one for themselves. Robin was in a circle close to the Mongolians. The English fighter off to the left of Robin was a large man, his hair a bright red. He charged his opponent using a staff. The Mongolian was using a pike. He quickly countered the red haired fighters attack. Robin heard the crowd boo as he and his opponent were still standing in their original positions. Robin grinned at the man, giving him a quick wink. He now knew it was true, what Jean had told him in his room. The Mongolians waited for their opponents to chose their weapons first. Executing an elegant bow, Robin motioned towards the weapon rack; inviting the Mongolian warrior to go first.
"After you," Robin politely said to his rival.
The man stared blankly at Robin, he gazed back towards his master. The roar of the crowd drowned out any words that would be said to the fighters. The Mongolian trainers had developed a system of hand signals to inform their fighters what to do. Robin nodded to himself, another item that Jean was noticed, during the endless playbacks of his previous battles. Slowly walking to the rack, Robin leaned against it. Crossing his arms, he then started buffing his nails. Waiting for the Mongolian to make the first move. Finally goaded by the crowd, the Mongolian trainer gave his man a hand signal to choose a weapon. The man hesitantly walked up to the rack and chose a sword. Gripping it tightly, he stepped quickly back. Robin glanced around to the other circle. The man there was loosing miserably. His weapon of choice was a battle-ax, the Mongolian was using a mace. The blood was already beginning to spill in the arena.
Robin returned his attention back to his opponent. The Mongolian stood in the center of the circle, facing his trainer. He waited for Robin to chose his weapon, and begin the fight. Robin went to the rack and chose a sword. The Mongolian now looked frightened. Jean told Robin that he noticed that the Mongolians waited for the English warrior to pick a weapon first. Whatever weapon was chosen, the Mongolians would choose a different one.
Robin tested the blade in the air, it felt strong and sure. Slowly he circled his opponent, the Mongolian's eyes followed Robin. Robin walked at the outskirts of the circle. He stopped when he had the Mongolian positioned the way Jean told him to, satisfied; he squatted down. Placing the point of the sword in the ground, he held onto the hilt. Leaning his head on his hands, he waited.
"What the hell is he doing?í Ian roared out in frustration. "Get up and fight King Richard!" Ian cried out.
Prince John pulled on Ian's sleeve to catch his attention. The crowd was getting agitated as Robin was not fighting, but just squatting on the ground. His opponent remained where he was. Ian sat down disgusted, he leaned over to hear what Prince John wanted to say.
"I want to make a large wager with Lord Liang now cousin."
"But he's not fighting!" Ian cried out.
"I know that man better than anyone here Ian. He has a plan."
"How can you be so sure?í Ian asked.
Prince John scoffed. "How can I be sure? He's Robin Hood!"
Ian nodded, he heard much of the notorious outlaw. Getting up from his chair Ian walked to the Lord's voice, who sat next to the Mongolian lord.
"Prince John would like to make a wager," he informed the interpreter.
The interpreter leaned over and translated for his lord of the Prince of England's offer. Lord Liang's eyes narrowed as he watched the proceedings. In two of the rings, the English fighters were being defeated. In the third, their man did not even want to fight. He nodded his approval giving him a hand signal.
"He says he will triple the original wager," the interpreter said in English.
"Done!" Prince John yelled out from his chair. Even with the noise of
the crowd. When it came to money, Prince John didnít miss a thing. Ian
returned to his seat.
"I hope your right cousin," Ian sang out.
"Donít worry Cousin. If I know Robin Hood, he has a plan."
Prince John looked down into the Arena. Robin was still squatting on the ground. He looked like he was falling asleep. "You better have a plan Robin Hood," Prince John said through gritted teeth.
Robin placed his hand over his mouth to stifle a yawn. He was trying to goad his opponent to attack first. Something had to happen soon, the crowd was getting anxious to see some fighting. The yawning was the last straw. As the Mongolian fighter glanced back to his trainer, he gave out a signal that until today, was never used by the Mongolians.
He told his fighter to attack first!
Once again, Jean was accurate in his analysis of the Mongolians fighting technique. Having played the battles over in his mind, Jean noticed that the Mongolians never attacked first. They waited for their opponent to start the battle, then they counterattacked. They would strictly fight a defensive type of battle. They never fought offensively.
The Mongolian ran towards Robin. Raising his sword he tried to split Robin in half, Robin remained in his squatted position. As the fighter grew nearer, still Robin stayed rooted. Once his opponent was close enough for Robin to see his nervous sweat falling down his face, he swiftly rolled to the side. The opponent hit empty ground. Quickly rising, Robin went into a defense attack. The Mongolian was not used to fighting this style. He tried to look to his master for advise, but Robin made sure the fighters back was to his trainer.
Now unable to see his trainers signals, it was up to him to decide on how to fight Robin. The Mongolian clutched his sword with both hands. His almond eyes gave Robin a fierce look. He brought the sword up slicing down at Robin, Robin adeptly countered the move. As the Mongolian fought on, he tried to glance back to trainer, but Robin was keeping him busy. Poking him in the chest with the swords tip, he made sure to keep his opponents back to his trainer during the duel.
As Robin fought on, he heard a cry of pain ring out. Jerking his head towards a side ring, he saw the red haired fighters back arching. His opponent had been able to remove the protective leather vest from the burley redhead. The pick on the Mongolian fighters glove was shoved into the back of the screaming man. As the foreign fighter twisted the pike around, the English gladiator cried out in agony. The Mongolian brought his pike up, shoving it into the red-haired mans chest. A blood-curdling scream was heard as he fell to the ground. He twitched for a few seconds and then laid still. The crowd roared out in joy at the first kill. The Masters smile grew wide. She was truly resurrecting the old Roman gladiator ways.
Robin now realized he had to finish his man quickly. The other warrior would be entering Robinís ring soon, he would then have two opponents to face.
He quickly jumped high into the air, landing behind his opponent. The man turned to face him. Robin knew he only had seconds to take out his rival. As the warrior spun around his trainer would now be in his line of sight.
It was as Robin had predicted. As the combatant turned, his eyes darted around searching for his trainer. Robin took full advantage of the momentary diversion. Bringing his sword forward, he swept it across, slicing into the sword hand of his opponent. The man released his weapon, dropping it to the floor, Robin had severed the tendons holding the weapon. Robin never intended to kill the man, he only wanted to incapacitate him.
The man was furious, he ran towards Robin. Clenching his good hand the pick hidden in the glove poked out. He then attempted a move that was foreign to him, he attacked Robin hand to hand.
Robin jumped straight up, throwing his leg out as he twisted around. Spinning in a tight circle, Robin brought the spur in his heel around. He slammed the spur into Mongolians glove hand, breaking the spike. Before the Mongolian could recover, Robin landed in front of him. Pulling his fist back, he slammed a roundhouse into the foreign warriors face. Stunned from the blow, he fell back on the ground, landing with a thud. Robin quickly ran to the rack. Pulling out a pike, he whirled it around, waiting for the other warrior.
The Mongolian warrior was just now entering the circle. Standing at its outskirts, he waited for Robin to make the first move. Once again, Robin took his time in fighting his new opponent. He circled slowly around the ring, herding his rival in a way, to have his back to his trainer. His trainer tried to run around the circle to be able to signal his fighter, but there were to many spectators in the ring. He had to remain on the Mongolians side of the arena. Robin cringed as he heard a death cry ring out in the arena. The other English fighter was being defeated. At the corner of his eye, Robin could see the third Mongolian enter his ring. Now Robin faced two opponents. Standing next to each other, they both waited for Robin to make the first move. Robin smiled pleasantly at them.
"Well, well seems Iím popular today. Please gentlemen, there's plenty of me to spread around, one at a time." The Mongolians looked at each other puzzled. Never before, had an opponent talked to them.
Robin spun the pike in his hands. "Now then who should I fight first? I think Iíll chose the ugly one," Robin joked. He stopped the spinning, driving the sharp end of the pike into the ground. Giving them a small wink. One of the fighters began to step forward.
"No!" Robin cried out. "I said the ugly one." During their training, the Mongolian warriors were taught a few words of English. The other fighter threw Robin an enraged look from his insult. He charged at Robin, holding his pike ahead of him. It was just what Robin intended on him to do. He forced the Mongolian to attack in a form of battle that was foreign to him. He clumsy tried to impale Robin on his pike.
Robin ran to meet the charging Mongolian. As he neared him, Robin dug the blunt end of the pike into the ground. He vaulted over the surprised Mongolian. As he landed in the hard dirt, Robin grabbed the pike with both hands on one end. Sweeping it across, he slammed it into his opponents back. The Mongolian clutched his back crying out in pain. Robin brought the pike over the Mongolians head, pulling it back on his neck. Holding tightly Robin jammed his knee in the Mongolians back, effectively choking his opponent with the pike.
As his opponent weakened from the lost of air, Robin pulled the Pike tighter. He could feel the warrior growing limp in his arms. As Robin was about to release the Mongolian, he felt a familiar feeling on his back. The other Mongolian had come up from behind. Wrapping his arm around Robinís neck, the fighter flexed his hand as he jammed a pick into Robinís exposed back. Robin immediately released his other opponent, the man fell to the ground stunned. Now Robin was left with the third warrior, whose arm was currently wrapped around his neck. He was maliciously, grinding the pick into Robinís back.
Robin was suddenly returned to Choís room. All those days of pain came flooding back to him. As the pain grew in intensity Robin searched around the crowds for Marion. With Little Johns help, she had made her way closer to the arena. Robin could see the concern for him on her face. Her lovely face, the only thing that helped him survive the torture he endured in that room. He recalled what Cho had done to him; and the horrible pain he endured, and how he was able to block it. The door to that room opened up once again for him. He pushed all his pain into that room, locking it in. The Crowd roared out in anger, the Mongolian had King Richard in his grip. There was no hope for him now.
"Looks like your going to lose cousin," Ian said.
"I donít think so Cousin, look." Prince John pointed towards Robin. He had a serene smile on his face.
"Pain level four. Canít you do better than that?" Robin asked the warrior. The warrior was stunned by the calmness in Robin's voice. Robin threw his head back, slamming it into the Mongolian's face. As he fell, he jerked his pick out of Robinís back. Robin whirled around kicking the man to the ground. Taking his pike, he plunged it into his opponents hand. He drove the pike with such force, that it imbedded into the ground. The warrior was impaled on the arenas floor.
Panting, holding his back from the pain he felt, Robin searched around the arena. He found he was the only one left standing, he saw Cho running towards him, followed by Alan. The Master also was running up to him. Robin had effectively managed to defeat all three Mongolians. The Master reached Robin first. Quickly raising his hand, she declared him the Winner of this round. The crowd went wild. Prince John jumped up out of his seat.
"See cousin I told you I know Robin Hood." Prince John screamed into Ian's ear. Ian hardly heard him as the crowd chanted.
"King Richard, King Richard."
Prince John's laughed as he joined in, cheering his brothers name. Facing the Mongolian Lord, he executed a bow, mouthing thank you. Lord Liang was furious! This was the first time, in all the tournaments that was held between their countries, that the Mongolians had suffered such a humiliating defeat. Calling for his voice, he whispered something into his ear. Nodding his approval, the Lords voice repeated what was said to one of the Lord's guards. He quickly ran to the Mongolian's trainers, to give them their Lord's orders.
Marion, Little John, Tuck, and Kemal joined the crowd with their cheers of Robin's win. All were so caught up in the thrill of the victory. Cho stood by to Robin's side. Looking back at Lu Chang, he held up Robinís hand to signal his win. The Mongolians remained quiet as the English celebrated. They had suffered their first defeat. As they silently watched the celebration, one of the Lord's guards ran up to Lu Chang. His head slowly nodded approval for the Lords orders. As the English audience cheered on, they were unaware of the sudden horrible act that the Mongolians were about to perform.
End of Part Twenty Three
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