The Greatest Warrior
By Virginia Cavazos
Chapter Eight
Betrayal, and unrequited love
Chapter Thirty One

Robinís hands hung from the top of the wagon. He swung back and forth with the shaking of the wheels on the bumpy road. Lu Chang hummed a familiar tune as he stood in front of Robin. Examining him with his eyes, Robin cringed. It was the same tune that Cho hummed to him, when he tortured him back in the monastery.

Lu Chang just smiled up at his new Warrior. He continued to hum his tune. Robin glanced around as Lu Chang walked behind him. He waited for the picks in his back, until Lu Chang came back around. A slave collar in his hands.

The one he held had small spikes on the inside. Lu Chang grabbed the back of Robinís head. Robin jerked back as Lu Chang placed the new slave collar around his neck, he cringed as he felt the spikes bite into the skin on his neck.

"Do not move!" Lu Chang warned him. "I do not want my new Warrior to be hurt anymore than it is."

Lu Chang strapped the collar around Robinís neck. Attaching a leash to the new collar, he attached another to the old one. Backing up, he grinned in satisfaction at Robin. Gently he pulled on the new collar with the spikes. Robin flinched as it bit into his neck.

"This one is for discipline. The other is to remind my Warrior who is the master." Lu Chang sat down near Robin, holding onto the leashes.

"I believed my father was crazy, when he said he would find The Greatest Warrior in a foreign land. But now I have it here before me."

Lu Chang stared silently at Robin. His thoughts raced to the future, when he returned to his homeland, the master of The Greatest Warrior.

"My father was right. There was such a thing as The Greatest Warrior." Lu Chang shook his head in wonder. "I had not seen such fighting as I saw in the arena today. To see the look in those eyes." Lu Chang pointed up to Robin. He then said proudly. "As my new warrior took the head off of Soon Lees fighter. I will never forget that look, my Warrior. When we return to my country, I WILL it again. " Robinís eyes opened wide as Lu Chang described something to him, that he could not recall.

"Oh, my Warrior does not remember. I had heard of such a thing, that the warrior would be so intent on the battle. That it would only want to do one thingÖto kill. And kill you did my Warrior." Lu Chang stood up and patted Robin on his chest. Like a dog, Robin thought.

"My warrior will fight like that for me when I return to my homeland. I will never forget the look on my old warrior's face, as my new Warrior twisted the sword." Lu Chang made a twisting motion. "Before pulling it out." Lu Chang grinned contentedly at his warrior. "That was a move worthy of me!"

"You will give me great honor my Warrior. There will be many who will want to watch a battle like today."

Robin became confused, had he killed those men like Lu Chang said? He tried to remember, did if it did happen. Glancing up at his arms, he closely began to examine the red leather. Robin could just make out large splotches of dried blood on the sleeves. His hands were still covered in his opponents blood. Becoming alarmed, Robin looked down, searching his clothes. He found the front of his shirt was also covered in blood. Robin felt a flush of fear run through his face. He tried to recall what Lu Chang said happened.

What happened in the Arena?

He then tried to relive that moment. Remembering the pain of the pick in his back, it was so intense, he had to find a way to stop it. Searching around, trying to find Marion. He had to find a way to fight the pain. Then he saw Marion, standing next to Lu Chang. The image of her next to Lu Chang angered Robin even now. As Robin recalled what he had seen, it all suddenly came flooding back to him. The Mongolians holding himÖ.the pick breaking in his back. His only thought then was to kill all those who opposed him. Tears flowed from his eyes, as he relived the deaths of the three warriors. The heartless brutal deaths, that Robin imposed on them. Their dead eyes, burning into his mind.

Lu Chang became enraged as he saw the tears flow. He pulled at the discipline leash. Robin let out a muffled cry as the spikes bit into his neck.

"Do not ever cry for the death of an opponent my Warrior. They only exist to battle. Iím sure my father told you this. He thought HE would take you back and bring honor to our family, but I tricked him. I am the one returning with the belt and the Greatest Warrior. All will respect me now, Lu Chang!" he hit his chest vainly.

Lu Chang pulled the gag out of Robinís mouth. Robin was unresponsive to Lu Chang as he smiled up at him.

"What do you have to say my Warrior?" He stepped back, waiting for his warriors response, giving it permission to speak.

Robinís eyes stared blankly at Lu Chang. Lu Chang jerked on the leash, Robinís head jerked with it; but he registered no pain, no thought. Lu Chang grabbed the back of Robinís neck, screaming at him. Robin still did not respond.

It had finally proved to much for him. As he recalled the brutal deaths; all that he endured the past three weeks. The hopelessness, the torture, his mind could no longer cope with it. Reliving the heartless deaths he had imposed in the arena had been to much for his tortured mind to bear. Robinís eyes were open, but they could no longer see. They looked out into the world, but the world no longer existed. For the man that was known as Robin Hood, was no longer there.

Lu Chang became enraged. He placed his finger on Robinís chest. Dragging it down, the metal nail scored a deep wound on his chest, but the eyes remained as blank as a dead mans. Robin hung loosely in the wagon, a broken man.

"I will not lose my Greatest Warrior!" Lu Chang screamed.

The driver of the wagon tried to keep his attention on the road ahead. He heard Lu Chang cry out. He almost pitied the new warrior, Lu Chang was brutal with all his warriors. As the wagon rode on into the night, the driver heard a twang, then another. The two men sitting in front of the wagon slumped down. With no one to lead them, the horses slowed to a stop. Lu Chang felt the Wagon shake to a stop. He called out to the men in front, but no one answered.

"Cho!" He screamed out in a rage.

Quickly taking Robinís hands down, he attached them to the belt around Robinís waist. Grabbing the leash to the slave collar, he pulled Robin to the door of the wagon. Carefully opening it, he searched out into the night. The cool night air poured into the hot wagon. Lu Chang carefully stepped out of the Wagon, dragging Robin behind him. Robin numbly followed.

Lu Chang walked to the front of the wagon. The two Mongolians in the wagon were lying dead. An arrow protruded out of each mans chest.

"I know you want Robin Hood back father." Lu Chang called out into the darkness of the Forest around him. "But you cannot have it. It is my Warrior now!" Lu Chang roared into the silent night.

He boldly walked to the back of the wagon. It was then that he heard the sound of a horse galloping down the road. He could also hear a dog barking, running to the back of the wagon. He reached in for a weapon.

*** *** ***

Caligula flew down the small dirt road. The wagon that carried Robin was nearby. Cho followed closely behind the large dog. It was dark out, he knew the wagon would not be to far ahead. Lu Chang would be a fool to ride his wagon hard in the night. Cho thanked the gods for the darkness.

Caligula's barking became more insistent, his stride grew longer as he spotted the bright wagon. Cho could just make it out ahead, it seemed to be standing in the middle of the road.

Lu Chang held Robin in front of him, clutching a sword behind his back. Caligula was the first to reach Lu Chang. He jumped into the air, lunging at Lu Chang. He flung Robin to the side. Robin fell to the ground, he remained where he was thrown. Broken, like a rag doll.

Lu Chang brought the sword forward, ready to impale the large dog. Caligula went moved to the side, narrowly avoiding the killing blow. As Lu Chang brought the weapon across to defend himself against the snarling dog, Cho came riding up. He leaped from his saddle to land on Lu Chang. Both men fell to the ground, rolling in the road. Each one trying to get the better of the other. Caligula had to back off. He could not risk hurting his master. He went to Robinís side, protecting him, as he had always done.

Cho gripped the hand that held the sword. He drove it into the ground, trying to make Lu Chang release his grip. Lu Chang pulled his legs in kicking his father off him. Cho landed on his back, placing his hands behind his head he jumped up, confronting Lu Chang. They circled each otherÖFather against son. Lu Chang held his sword in front of him, Cho brought his nun-chucks out, he whirled them in front of him. Each man trying to get the upper hand.

"You thought you could take my Greatest Warrior from me." Cho roared, as he circled around Lu Chang. He threw the Nun-chucks forward, Lu Chang quickly blocked the move with his sword.

Lu Chang spat at Robin. "You can have it. It is useless to me."

Cho gave a quick glance to Robin. He still lay in the road where Lu Chang had thrown him. Cho looked into the eyes of his warrior. They were empty, lifeless. His warrior was no longer there, Cho screamed out into the night.

"What did you do to him?!"

"It is over father." Lu Chang loosened his grip on the sword. "Your Greatest Warrior is gone. Your Da Jing would have been very proud." Lu Chang laughed at the great pain he caused his father.

Cho became enraged. Robin had the look of a broken man. He had seen it many times before, but he thought this one was different. He thought this one would be able to fight back, that he was stronger. Choís thoughts raced - how could he get his warrior back? There had to be a way. After all these years, he finally found his Greatest Warrior, but its mind was now lost. What would bring it back?

Then Cho recalled the arena, and the English woman that wore the scarf. Yes, his warrior had responded to her. Perhaps this woman would be able to bring his warrior back? Cho bowed to his son.

"You have won my son. I admit defeat." He threw the Nun-chucks at Lu Chang's feet, signaling his surrender.

Lu Chang became very suspicious. He knew his father did not surrender easily. Cho walked over to where Robin sat. Bending down, he pulled Robin up.

"I will take my warrior back with me to the arena. I can still use him for breeding. He was a strong man. He will give me many a good warrior."

Lu Chang remained where he was as Cho untied Robinís hands. As Cho released Robin, his arms hung loosely at his sides. Robin remained still, his once expressive eyes, now as blank as the dark night. Cho led Robin to his horse.

Lu Chang was still not convinced that his father would have given up that easily. His father must have a plan to bring the mind back of this fighter; but how? A small knowing smile blossomed on Lu Chang's face. In the arena, there was a woman that called to Robin. She was able to calm the warrior when it was mad with the killing. This was how his father was going to heal the warriors mind, using the English woman. Lu Chang slowly made his way to Cho and Robin.

"Father?í Lu Chang softly called out as he met Cho at his horse.

Cho turned. "Yes.í He answered.

As Cho turned, Lu Chang flung a knife at him. It imbedded in his shoulder. Caligula immediately lunged at Lu Chang, he was pushed back by the giant dog. He bumped into the horses that pulled the wagon. Frightened they bolted, running down the road, the sound of the wagon bumping behind them, faded into the night. Choís horse was also frightened of the dog, it followed after the wagon.

Lu Chang roared out into the night. He brought his sword out, slashing at Caligula. Caligula attempted to jump out of the way, but Lu Chang was to quick. He slashed deeply with the sword, into Caligula's chest. The large dog fell to the ground. Lu Chang was panting, clutching his arm. Caligula did manage to bite him, before he died. He left a deep wound in Lu Chang's forearm. Cursing the large dog, Lu Chang ran to where Cho lay.

Cho pulled at the knife in his shoulder. Lu Chang waked up to his father. He placed his foot on the knifes hilt, pushing it deeper into his father.

"Does that hurt, father?" Lu Chang sang out.

Cho made a grab for Lu Chang's foot, but the younger man was to quick, he laughed at his fathers pain, as he pulled it back.

"You may have been able to kill two of my men, but you will never get me my father."

Cho grabbed at the knife again, hissing out. "I did not kill any of your men."

Lu Chang became confused. His father would not lie about that. It was then that he realized there was someone else there. Silently waiting in the darkness for father and son to finish each other off, so he could complete his contract to King Richard. Ralph waited in the brush. A large smile creased his face. It felt good witnessing what Lu Chang was doing to Cho. He had wanted to do that all the time he was held as a prisoner in Choís room. He let an arrow fly, it hit Lu Chang in the hand that held the sword. The sword fell to the ground.

Lu Chang grabbed Robinís leash, clutching him protectively to his chest. Robin listlessly lay in his arms. Using Robin as a shield, Lu Chang backed up into the forest.

He screamed into the night. " I am leaving now. Do not follow!" Lu Chang addressed his father. "I will take my warrior now father. With the help of that English woman, the Greatest Warriors mind will return. Perhaps I will bring the woman with me? She was a pretty one, for someone of this country. I imagine Lord Liang may like to play with her."

Lu Chang ran into the brush, dragging Robin with him. Cho let out a scream, as he pulled the knife in his chest. The pain was great, but he managed to pull the knife from his shoulder. Throwing it on the ground, he clutched at the wound in his shoulder. His face etched in pain, he slowly stood up. Collecting himself, taking in a deep breath, he stumbled after his son.

Ralph let out a low curse, as he ran into the middle of the road. He followed father and son.

Lu Chang raced through the forest, dragging Robin behind him. Robinís steps were leaden, he slowed Lu Chang down. Lu Chang pulled on him, he wasnít going to give him up. He would find that English woman, and then bring them both back with him to Mongolia.

Lu Chang stumbled as he fell over a fallen log. Robin halted, he was no longer being pulled. He waited for Lu Chang to tell him what to do. As Lu Chang began to pull himself up, he was suddenly knocked down.

"I am not done with you yet, my son!" Cho roared.

"Then let us finish this father, once and for all!"

Lu Chang wrestled with his father on the ground. He knew his father would be weak from the wound he inflicted on him. He reached for the wound, slamming his hand into it. Cho screamed out in pain, but he used that pain to give him strength. He clutched his sons wrist, pulling it behind his back. Lu Chang struggled to pull himself out of his fathers grip, it was then he felt the sting of a blade in his heart.

"A present, from the Master!" Cho hissed. "Now die my son."

Cho twisted the blade in his heart. Lu Chang felt his life's blood flowing out of him. Cho held the blade in his son until he knew he was dead. Once he was gone, he gently stroked his sons head.

"It is over now my sonÖsleep."

He released his son, the limp body fell to the ground. Cho clutched at his shoulder. The wound that Lu Chang inflicted was deep. It would take him a long time to recover from it. As he waited to catch his breath, he heard a familiar tune being hummed. Searching around he found it was Robin humming the tune. It was the same song that Cho and Lu Chang sang to him. Even though Robin hummed it, his eyes were still as lifeless.

Cho warmly smiled at his warrior. "That is a song that I used to sing to him when he was a boy." He groaned as he strained to stand up. "It is a song that tells of the death of a great Warrior."

Cho looked down at his son. Since he was a boy, they were always fighting. It was a shame it had to end like this in a foreign land. Cho picked up one of the leashes. Removing it, he flung it into the air.

"I will remove the collars from you as soon as I can my Warrior. But first I have to heal your mind."

Taking Robin by the hand, Cho began to lead him back to the monastery.

*** *** ***

Marion pulled her horse to a stop. She found Caligula lying dead in the middle of the road. Nero moaned in sorrow, as he sniffed his body. Little John jumped down from his horse. He searched along the road.

"Marion, a wagon was here. There was a big fight." Little Johns eyes went wide in horror. "Marion, there's blood here." Little John showed her his hand. Even in the dark, she clearly saw blood was on it. Marionís heart nearly beat out of her chest. She prayed it wasnít Robinís.

Catching up to them, the others dismounted.
"Where's Robin?" Kemal asked. He glanced around the area. His head jerked when he heard Nero barking. He saw the large dog disappear into the brush.

"Follow him!" Alan pointed to where Nero rushed into the forest.

Try as they might, they could not keep up with Nero. Her legs growing weak, Marion had to stop to catch her breath.
"He'sÖgone," she panted.

"How are we going to find Robin...now?" Little John huffed.

As Marion tried to catch her breath, she a familiar feeling rushed through her. The same one that she felt three weeks ago - in her tent - back in Sherwood. She knew exactly what it meant; Robin was near by. She searched into the forest. Robin was out there; she could feel him. Running into the brush, she yelled out. "Follow me!"

*** *** ***

Cho stopped to jerk Robin towards him. He continually stopped, slowing him down. He heard the familiar tune being hummed over and over again. Cho was starting to get irritated with him.

"You WILL heal my warrior. I need your mind as well as your body."

As Cho passed near some dense brush, he was roughly pushed to the ground. Nero leaped on top of Cho, knocking him down. Robin fell into the brush. He rolled to land near a tree. Cho took his knife out, he slashed the enraged dog.

"Back!" he ordered Nero, but the dog refused to listen to his old master. He lunged at Cho, his sharp teeth snapping at him. Cho tried to block him with one hand, while the other used the knife. He managed to cut deeply into Nero's thigh. Nero let out a sharp yelp, maddened by the pain; he clamped his large jaws around Choís neck.

Clutching his neck, Nero jerked his head back and forth. Cho strained, as he tried to push the dog off him, but Nero proved to be to strong. His anger from his wound, and seeing Robin harmed, gave him the energy to fight off his former master.

Cho looked for his Warrior. He was not around, no one was. Cho was alone, alone in life, he was alone in death. His own animal was taking his life. He dug his fingers into the dogs neck; Nero clamped down harder. As the light began to fade in Choís eyes, as Nero tore his masters throat. Choís last thoughts were that he fulfilled his masters dream, he did find the Greatest Warrior, and for a brief, wonderful momentÖhe was his master.

Nero immediately released Cho, once he went limp in his hold. He headed to where Robin lay. This took him some time, for he had to drag his back leg behind him. Cho managed to mortally damage the leg. Nero would no longer be able to use it. The large dog crawled to where Robin lay. He whimpered at Robin, nudging him, trying to get a response; but Robin did not see the dog.

He stared out into the night. Nero then lay down next to Robin, gently he placed his head on Robinís lap. He waited there for the others to come. The only sound in the night, was of Robin softly humming.

End of Part 31

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