Robin grimaced from the wound on his back. He tried to hold in the pain, as the Master held his hand up, to indicate his victory. The crowds roars were deafening. This was the first time that any Englishman had completely finished a full round. Jean had only defeated two warriors before he suffered his loss. As The Master was finishing her victory celebration a cry of terror, came out from the crowd. Dropping Robinís hand, The Master turned to see what was wrong. Each trainer of a Mongolian warrior was coming into the ring. The gasp came from the large knifes the trainers were carrying with them.
Coming up to their defeated warriors, they pulled their fighters head back. Coldly placing the knives on their exposed necks. They then waited for a signal. Lu Chang slowly walked to where The Master, Cho, and Robin stood. Alan went protectively to Robinís side. Lu Chang stopped directly in front of Robin, his eyes were dark with hatred. The Master stepped back, this was now between Cho and his people.
"It wins this round," Lu Chang hissed. "But Lord has degreed that those that have lost to it has disgraced our people. They must atone for their defeat, before Lord Liang."
Lu Chang spun around, he waited for the Lords signal. He slowly nodded his head, once the signal was given. Each trainer in turn slit the throats of their fighters. A gasp of horror came from the crowd at the heartless act. One trainer hesitated, he looked to Cho for support. Seeing the hesitation, Lu Chang's eyes burned into the man.
"Your Lord commands it!"
Bowing his head, he relinquished, quickly slitting his warriors throat. The trainers then released their men. The three fighters bodies fell limply to the ground, as they died instantly. Stooping down, the trainers removed the slave collars. Leaving the bodies where they lay, they walked slowly to Lu Chang, handing him the collars. Lu Chang turned to throw them at Robinís feet.
"Every fighter it defeats, will now suffer the same fate," Lu Chang warned Cho.
Robin stood his ground against Lu Chang, but he found he was having a hard time concentrating, as the pain in his back grew in intensity. He knew he was bleeding from the wound made by the pick. The red leather was able to hide the blood that oozed out of the wound. Robin tried to keep his head held high, to stand up to the enraged Mongolian. Squaring his shoulders, he gave Lu Chang a look of triumph. Lu Chang became enraged. To have a slave look at him in such a way was unheard of.
"My win today proves to our people that the old ways are best," Cho said, as he walked in front of Robin, confronting Lu Chang. "You see it already begins. Your man hesitated because he knows that my way is the better." Cho crossed his arms, challenging Lu Chang's leadership.
"You have won this battle, tomorrow is another day."
As Lu Chang began to rant to Cho that his way of training was the better, Robin felt a wave of dizziness pass through his body. He was loosing a lot of blood from the injury in his back. When the fighter pulled the pick out, he had jerked it down. Tearing a gaping wound in Robinís back. Alan noticed Robin wavering. Thinking he was tired from his battle, he placed his hand on Robinís back to steady him. Robin grimaced in pain as Alan touched his wound. Feeling a twitch from Robin, Alan brought his hand back down. Feeling something wet on it, he glanced down. He was stunned to find his hand was covered in Robinís blood.
"I need to leave NOW!" Robin quietly stressed. With the dizziness increasing, he knew he would pass out from the loss of blood soon. He had to leave the arena soon, before the Mongolians found out about his injury. Alan tried to think of way of leaving the arena, without letting on to Robin's wound. Tapping Cho on the back, Alan angrily yelled out.
"Cho, lets go now. We donít need to watch the other fights. Ours was the only one important." Cho spun around at the harsh words by Alan. Before he could lash out at him, Alan showed his bloody hand to Cho, then moved his eyes at Robin.
"We have to leave now Cho!" Alan strongly stated.
Cho looked to his warrior, he could see a paleness to Robin, and he was slightly wavering where he stood. He now knew his warrior was injured! Not wanting to show weakness to his countrymen his warrior was trying to hide it. Cho turned back to face Lu Chang.
"We go now. The other fights do not matter to me. You may see me later at the celebration tonight. A victory celebration for my fighter's win!"
Lu Chang was furious at Choís words. Cho whirled around, ignoring any protestations, he then headed quickly towards the exit. Robin followed after him. He was trying to concentrate on staying erect, but he was loosing the battle. The weakness encroached on him swiftly. The crowd cheered Robin as he walked by, Alan made sure to stay close behind him. Concealing Robin's wound from the Mongolian's. It took all of Robinís strength to hold himself up, he felt his knees wanting to buckle. He strained to keep them going, the noise of the crowd became muffled as he felt another wave of weakness pass. Cho walked out as quickly as he could. The guards tried to keep up, as Nero and Caligula stayed close to Robin. They now neared the exit.
"Hold on, a little further," Alan quietly said to Robin.
Robin didnít hear Alanís words, it was all he could do to concentrate on his walking. One foot in front of the other, he told himself. He had to march out of the arena under his own power. He needed the Mongolians to be unaware of how badly he was injured in the battle. They were now under the arches of the exit. Passing through them, they walked down the empty corridors. The crowds noise died down as they marched towards Robin's room.
As they turned a corner, Robin lost the battle. He tumbled down, the weakness overtaking him. Alan cried out for Cho's help, as he fell to the floor. Cho spun around, to catch Robin before he hit the ground. The guards attempted to aid Robin, but Cho harshly pushed them away. Cho gently wrapped his arm around Robinís back, he placed his other arm under Robinís knees. He lifted Robin up with ease, holding him like a baby. Robin, to weak to protest Cho carrying him, he lay limply in his arms, his head resting on Choís shoulder. Cho walked the rest of the way to Robinís room, holding his victorious warrior in his arms.
Marion could tell that something was wrong with Robin as he left the arena by the way he walked. He seemed to be straining with every step.
"Little John, do you think he was hurt?" She had to pull Little Johns head down to be heard above the roars of the crowd.
"It looks like it Marion. I donít think it's serious though."
Marionís eyes followed Robin until he left the Arena. There was definitely something wrong with him. Only someone that knew him as well as she did, could tell. As Robin exited the arena, Marion felt a tug at her sleeve.
"Iíll be going now," Ralph yelled at Marion. "When I get outside Iíll wait for the celebration to begin before I try to seal some of that black powder."
"Be careful! Getting Robin out of here depends on you being able to steal some of that powder." Marion swallowed hard, her throat was becoming sore from all the yelling.
"Donít worry, I know my job. After I acquire the powder Iíll return to our room."
Saving her voice, Marion just nodded her approval. Ralph smiled back at her as he made his way through the crowd, staggering a little to keep up the appearances of the drunken Lord. Now it was up to Little John. His date with The Master would be spent in finding out what she had planned for Robin. Marion grabbed Little Johns arm pulling on it. He gazed down at her, his bright blue eyes saddened by the senseless slaughter of the Mongolian fighters. Marion also felt that what the Mongolians had done was a cruel act.
When she caught Little Johns attention she pointed towards The Master. She still stood in the ring, talking animatedly to Lu Chang. The large Mongolian was just nodding his head at what was being said. When she finished talking to him, she searched around for Little John. Spotting him, she smiled, waving up at him. Little John returning the smile. The Master then headed back to her chair. There were still three ring battles left to fight. The English fighters were inspired by the win from King Richard. They were ready to confront the Mongolians. The Mongolians, were also inspired, by their Lords decree. He was so angered by King Richard's win, he sent out a decree, for all of his warriors to be killed, if any of them lost to another English fighter. The next three ring battles was some of the bloodiest fought since the tournaments began. In the end, the Mongolians won them all. Only Robin was the lone winner from England that night.
Alan pushed open the door to Robinís room. Cho carried him in, gently sitting Robin on his bed. After the dogs entered the room, Alan quickly closed the door. The four guards waited outside, as Alan closed the door he could see Cho begin removing Robinís shirt. Alan ran to the bed to tell Cho that he would do it, but it was to late. Cho opened the shirt, to see Marionís scarf tumble out, to fall in Robin's lap. Alan's only response, was a sheepish grin. Cho was at first angered by finding the scarf, he then looked into his warriors face. The pain he was in was evident in his deep brown expressive eyes.
Robin had done so much, more than any warrior Cho possessed. He won his first tournament battle, and hid his injury from his people. Cho picked up the scarf from the bed, he stuffed it under Robinís pillow. He then gently helped Robin to lie on the bed. Laying him on his stomach, so he could examine the wound. Alan was relieved Cho let Robin keep the scarf, he tried to hide it, but his face was unable to. Cho grumbled as he saw the smile on Alanís face.
"It is a gift, for winning the first ring battle," he murmured. Alan knew better. "Fetch me a clean cloth and some water, be quick about it!" Cho ordered Alan.
Alan fetched some linen that was left in the room for Robinís baths. Picking up a bowl of water, he ran back to Robinís bed, handing the clean rags to Cho. Cho dipped the rags in the water and started wiping away the blood that was smeared on Robinís back. Robin hissed at the stinging pain that he felt from Choís ministrations. He laid his head on the pillow, clutching the pillow in his mouth, he bit hard on it, to withstand the pain. Cho continued to clean the blood from the wound. The gash in his back proved to be very deep. It looked to be about two inches long. Blood continued to ooze from the wound. It would have to be stopped immediately, Robin had already lost to much blood.
Cho grabbed Alanís hands, placing them on the rag covering the wound, he told Alan to press down on Robinís wound. As Alan pushed down, Robin let out a gasp of pain. Frightened he was hurting Robin; Alan released his pressure. Cho pressed down again on Alanís hands.
"You must push down hard. To prevent the blood from coming out." Cho explained to Alan. Alan nodded his head, applying more pressure. Robin squirmed under his hands. Alan wanted to let up but Cho knew better on how to mend Robin's wound.
Cho grabbed his chest from the floor. Lifting it, he carried it to Robinís bed. Placing it on Robinís small table, he unlocked it. Lifting the lid, Alan and Robin could now see into Choís mysterious chest. Cho rummaged in the chest, they could see many small items in it. The small jars of ointment he used on Robin, many bags of herbal teas brought here from Choís country. There was also something else. It looked like a small ornate urn. Cho pulled out a small jar of a mysterious ointment. He also removed some tea, a thread, and a small packet. Opening the packet, he chose a sharp needle. Quickly he closed the chest back up. He threaded the needle, placing it on the table, to be used when Robin was ready.
"Do not worry my warrior. I know how to repair wounds such as this." Cho tried to encourage Robin.
Cho told Alan to stop pressing down. As Alan removed the rag, the blood immediately began to flow out.
"Alan you must help me. I want you to hold down King Richard while I attend to his wound."
Alan slightly shook his head, to Cho Robin was always to be King Richard. He then looked at Cho with confusion, he really didnít know what Cho wanted him to do. Cho took Alanís hands and placed them on Robinís shoulders. Alan was to hold Robin down. He pressed down on Robin with all his weight. Cho opened the small jar. Robin felt Cho bend down to whisper to his ear.
"This will hurt my warrior. But I know you will be able to withstand this pain."
Using a wooden stick, Cho dug it into the small jar. He scooped out a clear looking cream, a foul smell emanated from the jar. Alanís nose crinkled at the smell.
"You arenít going to put that on him." Alan gasped, he tried to hold his breath, but eventually he had to breathe again. The horrible smell was still there.
"This will stop the bleeding," Cho explained. "But it will feel to him like he is on fire. That is why you must hold him down. When the bleeding stops, I will use the needle and thread to close the wound."
Cho waited no longer, he plunged the cream into Robinís wound. It was just as Cho said, to Robin it felt like he had jammed a hot poker into him. Cho aided Alan in holding Robin down. He bucked and squirmed under Alanís and Choís hands. He cried out as it felt like his whole back was on fire. Alan held on, he felt Robinís muscles stiffen under his grip. The pain was excruciating. Cho watched the wound as he tried to keep Robin steady. A bubbling liquid flowed out of the wound.
"Whenís it going to stop?" Robin choked.
His face felt cold as the blood rushed out of it. Robinís head fell to the pillow he let out a small groan. The weakness seemed to be taking him over now. Cho took one hand and started to stroke Robinís head, as he tried to soothe him. The salve in the wound was doing its job, the blood no longer flowed out of the wound. The bubbling suddenly ceased, a brown liquid formed a crust on the wound. Cho knew the bleeding was stopped now.
Now he had to repair the torn flesh. Taking his hands off Robin, he reached for the needle and thread. Alan held on tighter to Robin as Cho began to stitch him up. As he plunged the needle into Robinís flesh, Robin cringed. Alan sat on the bed now, holding Robin down. Cho quickly worked on Robin, closing the wicked wound left by the pick. Once he was done, Alan patted Robin on his shoulders.
"See now that wasnít so bad," Alan tried to cheerfully say.
"Next time," Robin weakly whispered. Alan couldnít hear what Robin was saying. He brought his ear closer to hear him.
"Next time I get to do that to the master." Robin spit out feathers that he swallowed as he bit on the pillow. Alan laughed at this, Robin managed to weakly smile.
Cho selected some clean rags to be used as a bandage for Robinís wound. Alan and Cho helped Robin to sit up as the bandage was brought across Robinís chest. He wrapped the bandage around, making sure it was tight.
"Now some of my teas and food and your strength will return."
Robin made a disgusted face. "I hate your teas."
"Maybe so," Cho said as he finished tying off the bandage. "But they do work. Now I have to attend the celebration." Cho threw Alan a threatening look.
"I want you to watch after King Richard while I am gone."
"Donít worry Cho. Iíll make sure nothing happens."
Cho eyed Alan. "I remember what happened the last time I left him with you."
"Come on Cho, that canít happen twice. Besides, there are four guards outside and two very mean dogs inside. What can happen?" Cho pondered on this, he agreed with Alanís reasoning.
"I will return after the celebration with some hot water." Cho gently pushed Robin down on the bed. "For now you rest. Tomorrow will be here soon."
Robin didnít want to argue with him, he was so tired. As he laid his head on the pillow, he couldnít keep his eyes open. Closing them, he went to sleep.
Satisfied that Robinís wound was well taken care of, Cho picked up his small chest and left the room. When he left Robinís eyes popped open. He saw the biggest grin on Alan's face.
"It worked!" Alan yelled out. He lay on Robin, his arms hugging him, Robin patted him on the back.
"Yes it did Alan. Thank God for Jean."
"Yes, thank God." Alanís muffled reply was heard. His head was buried on Robin chest. Robin laughed, it hurt him, but it felt good.
End of Part Twenty Four
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