Part Twenty Eight
With his exercise finished for the day, Robin was taken back to his room. He was to wait there until they were ready for the main battle of the tournament. Robin paced nervously back and forth in the room, clutching at his slave collar. Alan lay back on the bed, his eyes following Robin.
"After tonight youíll finally be out of here."
Robin just nodded his head as he maintained the nervous pace. Nero walked behind him. He turned as Robin would turn, Alan laughed as Robin didnít notice his shadow.
"What's wrong Robin? It's a great plan." Alan had made sure not to tell Robin that Little John was going to remain behind, Marion did not want Robin to know. Otherwise, he would have refused to leave without Little John.
Robin stopped at the foot of the bed. His eyes were narrowed in thought. Leaning over, he placed his hands on the footboard of the bed.
"Alan, are you sure we can trust your sister?"
"I canít really say Robin."
Robin was getting suspicious, without the knowledge of Little John remaining behind, the plan really didnít make any sense. "But it's our only hope." Alan tried to reason with Robin. Alan had to come up with something that Robin would believe. "You know...she's always hated Ian. Maybe this is a way of getting back at him? Helping you escape. After all you are his best fighter, you're worth a lot of money to Ian."
Robin pondered on this explanation. The Master was treacherous enough to want to get back at Ian like that. That must be it, Robin lips curled to a knowing smile.
"Yes, that has to be it. She wants to get back at Ian."
Alan sighed in relief. He thanked god Robin bit at that explanation. Robin then went to his chair, sitting down he looked out. He absently pulled at the slave collar. This was the first thing he had to get off after his escape. It made him feel so helpless. Sighing he hoped this was the last time he would be looking out this window. Nero sat down next to Robin, placing his large head in his lap, he let out a soft whimper. Robin, looked down at the dog, he gently stroked his large head. Nero gazed up with admiring eyes at Robin.
"What am I going to do with you?" Robin gently asked.
He had grown to love this gentle giant. He was his constant companion from the first day he slept on the floor in Choís room. He refused to leave Nero behind. He would be sure to take him with, but As For Caligula,...Robin glanced to where Caligula lay. As their eyes met, Caligula growled at Robin. He could stay with Cho, Nero was going to go with him. Robin bent down, and hugged the dogs large head.
"You're going with me boy," he whispered to the large dog. "You're going to love Sherwood Forest."
Nero brought his head up and nuzzled Robin. Sitting back up, his thoughts were of how good it was going to be sleeping in his own bed, with Nero at the foot.
*** *** ***
Marion paced the floor, she was nervous about tonight. She pulled at the blue scarf tied around her neck. Little John and Ralph were sitting on their beds watching her pace.
"Marion, please sit down. You're getting me dizzy," Little John said, with a warm laugh.
Marion stopped in her tracks, and gazed sadly at Little John. He was giving up so much for Robin. He looked at her, his sad blue eyes staring at her. Coming up to Little John, she opened her arms and hugged him. Her embrace lasted a little to long for Little John, he became embarrassed by it. Pushing her away, he could see the tears in her eyes. Pointing at her, he wagged his finger, trying to sound serious.
"Now donít you do anything foolish. You get Robin out of here first. You can think about me later."
Marion silently nodded her head. If she spoke now she knew Little John would hear the concern in her voice. Then they would both be crying. The door suddenly flew open as Tuck and Kemal walked in.
"It is done." Tuck announced.
Marion smiled knowingly to herself at this. Their plan was finally being implemented. Now all they needed to do was wait until tonight. Marion walked to the window. Gazing out, her only thoughts were of Robin, sleeping in his bed back in Sherwood, with her sitting in a chair at his side.
*** *** ***
The night came quickly. Robin nervously waited for Cho to take him to the Arena, now Alan was now getting nervous. There was going to be a lot happening this night. As the door was flung open, Robin quickly stood up. Cho walked in with his chest.
Robin marched to the center of the room, as always. Cho placed the chest on a table. Opening it, he pulled out a small urn. Placing it on the table next to the chest, he turned to give Robin a warm smile. Walking up to Robin, he placed his hands on Robinís shoulders.
"This is a day that I have waited my whole life for my warrior. You will bring back honor to the Kenosi clan, and to my Da Jing." Cho glanced back at the urn. Robin surmised that the urn must hold the ashes of someone called a Da Jing. He had heard that the Chinese cremated their dead.
"The two ring battles are done now." Cho informed Robin. "You are the only one that has won, from this country." Robin remained quiet. He would have to face five Mongolians in the final battle.
"You must use all your wits tonight my warrior. Lu Chang will try everything to win this battle. It would be a disgrace for him to lose to one of my warriors." Cho glowed with pride at Robin. "Remember what I have taught you. Remember the highest level of pain. When you were able to block it, it brought you to a level that none but very few in my country have experienced. At that level, you will become the Greatest Warrior. None will be able to challenge you. Your only thoughts will be of the fight. If Lu Chang attempts what I think he will, then you are to use what I taught you. Remember the hate!" Cho strongly stressed. "Use it to block out the pain."
Cho had nothing more to say. Robin was as ready as he could be. Cho then went to the small table and picked up the urn. Without another word said, he walked out the door. It was time; Alan nervously smiled at Robin, Robin tried to keep the fear he had about the coming fight inside. He walked mechanically towards the door, following in Choís footsteps.
As Cho opened the door and entered the corridor, Robin found that The Master added two more guards. He now had six guarding him. She was preparing for the escape already. Now Robin grew more apprehensive. It all depended on him winning the fight. As they walked on, Robin closed his eyes in silent prayer.
*** *** ***
Tuck had his eyes closed in silent prayer. They had witnessed two fights tonight, both were won by the Mongolians. They seemed to be fighting with renewed strength. Robinís win had set the Mongolians off, they had a point to make to the Englishmen; that they were the best fighters. Tuck finished his prayer he was saying for Robin.
"There he is..." Marion pointed out to the edge of the ring. The crowds roars drowned out what Marion was saying. Robin walked into the ring, he quickly searched around the crowds to try to spy his friends. They made sure to come early to sit near the rings edge. Robin spotted them at the far side of the rings. Marion reached up and tugged at her scarf, Robin smiled warmly at her. Knowing where they were, was going to help him in this final battle.
As Cho walked towards the center ring to meet Lu Chang, Ralph and Kemal excused themselves. They had a job to do. Casually they both walked to a separate doorway. Tuck and Kemal had placed the black powder in small vases at the base of each archway. No one noticed the vases filled with the volatile chemical. Ralph and Kemal waited near the explosives, a torch burned above them. They were to wait for the battle to end, then they would grab the torches, lighting a cloth wick; that hung on the outside of the vases. Only Ralph and Kemal would be quick enough to flee before the black powder would ignite.
Cho and Lu Chang met in the center ring.
"You have your Da Jing's ashes," Lu Change angrily stated. Cho clutched the urn in his hands.
"He was your Da Jing also, until you denounced the Kenosi clan. Since I was a child, he has always told me that I would find a Greatest Warrior in another land. He was the only one that believed that the Ultimate Warrior would come from this foreign warrior."
"Never!" Lu Chang hissed. "The Ultimate Warrior will not come from this soil!"
"You will see that I am right. Once he has won tonight's battle, I will be able to spread my masters ashes over the battlefield. He will finally be able to rest, because my warrior will win tonight. I will prove to you that the old way is the best. Let the fight begin." Cho then whirled around and headed back to Robin. Lu Chang called out to Cho, "We shall see who's way is best father!"
Alanís and Robinís eyes went wide in shock - Lu Chang was Choís son?
Noticing the looks Cho smiled cryptically. "He has his mothers temper." Robin just shook his head in confusion, Cho always found some way to surprise him. As they waited for the preparations for the main fight, Alan spotted Marion.
"I hope Ralph is better," Alan remarked.
"Why? What's wrong with him?" Robin questioned Alan.
"Well he has a bad limp. He is supposed to light that black powder. I hope he can run fast enough to get away." Robin grabbed Alan by the shoulders. "Which leg is he limping on?" Robinís voice was near to panic.
"His left leg Robin."
Robin quickly searched for Marion, she had to know that Ralph was a traitor. The preparations were now complete. Two Mongolians were coming for Robin, to take him to his ring.
Robin had to warn Marion of Ralph. Grabbing Alan, he quickly told him, "Alan, you must tell Marion that the assassin was bit by Nero in the left thigh... warn her!"
When Robin finished his warning two Mongolians grabbed him, dragging him towards the center of the arena. "Warn her!" Robin shouted out as he was taken away.
The three ringed arenas were still in place, but a tall metal column was added to the center, between the three rings. The Mongolians dragged Robin to the center of one of the smaller rings. A man waited with a thick leather leash in hand. The leash was attached to the top of the pole. It was to far up for a man to reach. The men held Robin still while the leash was fastened to his slave collar. The other Mongolian fighters were also tethered to the post.
The Mongolians then stepped back, positioning themselves at strategic points around the arena. This time they were prepared for Robin, the fighters would be able to receive a hand signal from their trainers during the fight. Robinís only concern now was for Marion and the others. Why did Ralph try to kill him? If he wanted Robin dead, then why did he help Marion find him?
Robin searched around for Ralph. He was unable to see beyond the Arena. A gong was chimed, The Master was walking towards the center of the Arena. Prince John smiled at Robin from his ornate chair. A large grin encompassing his face. He was going to win a lot of money tonight. The funny part was that it all depended on Robin Hood. Prince John chuckled to himself, he never thought he would be cheering for Robin Hood. The Master stopped in the center of the rings to announce the final battle.
"Prince John, Lords and Barons, Ladies and Baroness, and our distinguished guests from the Far East. We now come to our final battle, the fight that you all have waited five years for, and this year we finally have a countryman in the final battle." The crowd began their chant of King Richard, but Robin never heard them, his only concern was for Marion. He could see Alan making his way towards Marion and the others.
"Now the rules of the final battle." Everyone hushed as The Master explained. "As in the previous battles, one must win in their ring to go into the next. If one tries to leave the ring before hand..." The Master pointed to the Mongolian and English guards that lined the rings. Each had a spear in hand, their job was to make sure that none of the fighters tried to escape. The Master continued with her announcement, "As you can see, all the fighters are tethered to the center post. The leashes are long enough to reach the end of each ring. At the end of the ring, they will find two swords, just within reach. Each fighter must try to obtain the sword. As before, one will be able to kill their opponent to win the battle."
The Master slowly walked backwards as she screamed out. "Let us begin the battle!" She then whirled around, racing back to her chair, as the crowd started up the chant.
Alan reached Marion as the Master finished her speech. She leaned over to hear what Alan was saying as the crowd was drowning out his words.
"Robin said to be careful of Ralph, a man tried to kill Robin last night. He was bit in the left leg." Marion's head jerked towards the exit that she knew Ralph was waiting to light the powers. He now limped on his left leg. Marion, clutching Alanís arm squeezed it in thanks. "Thank you for letting me know," she shouted. Alan just nodded his head and ran back to where Cho was watching the fight. The Battle was about to begin, Marionís concerns grew, they could no longer trust Ralph.
Reaching her chair The Master sat down, she brought her hand up. She glanced over to Little John; he was staring at Robin. His only thoughts now were for Robin to win this tournament. The Master dropped her hand down, starting the final battle.
The Mongolian in Robinís circle immediately made a lunge for Robinís leash. Robin was jerked back as he ran towards the sword. The Mongolian wrapped his hand around the leather leash. Digging his heels in, he kept Robin at bay. Robin pulled on the leash, but the Mongolian fought back. Giving up on trying to drag his opponent, Robin ran to him. He began to fight hand to hand with his opponent. He found his opponent was quick. He deftly avoided any hit that Robin threw at him.
As Robin fought on, what was happening in the other circles shocked and horrified the audience. While one Mongolian warrior went to fetch a sword, the other stayed in their original positions. The Mongolian fighters returned with the swords, their opponent kneeled down on the ground. Bending over they exposed their necks. Then each fighter brought up their swords up, and hacked the head off of their opponents. A gasp came from the crowd, the killings were brutal and senseless. The two remaining fighters then headed to the circle that held Robin and his opponent.
"Unfair!" Prince John roared.
He turned to the Mongolian Lord, yelling at the Lord, not bothering with the interpreter. Lord Liang ignored Prince Johns protest. His smile slowly grew as his warriors were now merging into the English warriors ring. The Lords excitement grew, he wanted to see this English dog defeated. They would know that the Mongolians are the superior fighters.
End of Part 28
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