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candle

Chapter Ten:

Much

book
     
  Much moved easily through the forest towards the Nottingham Road... since childhood he had used the forest as a refuge. When he reached the trees that edged the road he immediately searched for somewhere that would allow him the best vantage point of the road. At each tree he stopped, looking up through the branches until he finally found the one that he thought would best suit his needs.

Much

Stooping to pick up a fallen branch, he tucked it in his waistband before hoisting himself up and climbing until he found a crook that he could comfortably settle into. When he was sure it was quite he withdrew his small knife and began to whittle on the stick he had found...yes...it would make a fine flute when he was finished..

 
     
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Heeding advice

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  John shifted the staff from one hand to another, then scratched his head... he wasn't a man of too many words, so how to explain what the Saracen and he had worked out? Lowering his hand he looked at Robin. "No... nothing's wrong, but Nasir has doubts about the safety of our camp...".

Robin glanced back at Nasir then turned back to John. "What kind of doubts does he have, John?"

Robin and John

The big man scratched his head again and looked over towards the Saracen. "He says the paths we've left in the forest will lead the Sheriff right to us... I think he thinks we should move the camp." He looked back at Robin, gauging his reaction.

"The paths." Robin looked toward the path leading to the road. "He's right, this is dangerous. If we are to outlast them we can't leave any sign of where we are."

"I saw them too... I'd never thought about it either.. they aren't big ones... but to someone looking... they're there."

"We can't take the chance, we're going to have to move deeper into the forest."

Little John nodded. "I agree...we'll have to make sure we vary how we get to the camp too. Maybe that way we can avoid making any paths to the new camp."

Robin looked around the camp at the lean-to and the fire pit, then shook his head. "We are sitting ducks here. That's a good idea, we can use the deer trails, and walk in the streams to avoid leaving the paths."

"I almost forgot...I sent Much out on watch..."

"I know I saw him go, while I was talking with Marion......I think it best if we move the camp quickly."

John nodded again...Robin was right..if they used the things already there they would draw less notice. He looked back to the fire..."I'm worried about Will...he still doesn't trust him. He thinks Nasir is spying for the Sheriff."

"So that is what that was all about. That will have to be dealt with later."

"For what it's worth..I think he is loyal to you..and us. None of us served de Belleme willingly... I don't think that can be held against him."

"But it is Will who needs convincing... Will, Tuck, we have to move camp," Robin turned and picked up his sword from the side of the lean-to. "We have to carry what we can and leave the rest."

As Robin yelled to Will Nasir set the cup down and reached for his swords... slipping them into his harness before standing.

Will looked to where Robin and John stood. "Move camp? Why?"

Nasir looked over to Will at his question then started for the lean-to to get his bow and pack.

"This place isn't safe anymore," Robin looked back and pointed at the trail. "That will lead Gisburne right to us."

"Says who?"

John smiled..he'd let Robin deal with this..he followed Nasir into the lean-to and paused by the provisions, then looked at Nasir as he gathered his things. "You have room in your pack to carry anything else?"

Nasir looked over to the man and nodded..then approached him..opening his pack as he did.

Robin raised his hands to his lips and whistled like one of the forest birds, the way he taught Much. "We need everyone here to move. I hope Much remembers the signal."

Will looked from Robin to Tuck. "Do you know what this is about? Move the camp?" - "I'm afraid not..." Tuck had already begun to douse the fire with the remains of the tea and put things into the kettle that sat next to the fire.

Robin walked over to Will. "Do you see that trail? If one of the Sheriff's man stumbles on that it will lead them right to us. If that man is Gisburne..." Robin let the sentence finish itself. "Do you still think the camp is safe, Will?" - "Gisburne - do you think he'd follow us into Sherwood!?" Will snorted contemptuously.

"That should do it.." John handed Nasir's bag back to him and grabbed a sack that sat against the wall. "Nasir, why don't you get the clothing." He directed as he filled it with foodstuffs.

The Saracen leaned his bow against the wall then picked up the pile of clothing that sat near the food... unfolding one, he piled the others in to it. He looked around the shelter... there was more than just the few of them could carry unless they made several trips.

"Because he is a fool, a fool who wants to prove himself not one. That makes him a little crazy, Will. We are going to have to move deeper into the forest." Robin looked once more at Will, then he moved toward the lean-to.

Robin grabbed up his longbow and arrows then he moved to fit what he could in a sack for the journey. He turned and looked at Nasir. "Nasir, could you go and find a place that we could set up for a short while?"

Nasir looked up as Robin entered then nodded...hoisting his pack over his shoulder he picked up his bow and quiver and headed outside again.

 
     
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An unexpected encounter

book
     
  As Nasir stepped outside the lean-to he couldn't help thinking that Robin's decision to have him search for the new camp site said more about his trust of him then words could. Stopping at the water bag he took a long drink, looking around the camp as he did. His thirst quenched he sat it down and started across the camp in the direction of the stream.

Robin watched as Nasir slipped out of the lean-to. Then he glanced out toward the camp, "Will, can you go get Much? We are going to need him."

Will turned to Tuck, the embarrassment clearly visible on his face. "The master has spoken," he mumbled, but already bent down to gather the items spread around the fire. At Robin's call he raised his head and nodded. "Aye...."

Marion finally began on her way back towards the camp. As she walked back, she tried to observe her new surroundings as best she could. Taking in all the sounds and movements that were not related to her own movements. She finally made her way back to camp, only to find everyone up and quite active. Marion looked over to Robin "What's going on?"

"Thanks Will ... we have to move camp, Marion, this is no longer safe. I should have seen it, but it was Nasir who pointed it out...." Robin stopped in mid-sentence as he thought about that. "John, how did Nasir tell you about this?"

Will picked up his sword. "Make sure they don't leave without us, Tuck...." With that he headed for the treeline. The voices of the other outlaws faded as soon as Will entered the forest... he needed to find Much as quick as possible and get back to camp.

John sat the bag down outside the lean-to as he heard his name..."What was that?"

Nasir turned at the mention of his name, then seeing the question was directed at John continued towards the edge of camp...

"How did Nasir tell you about the camp site?" Robin glanced at the Saracen, "do you speak his language?"

John scratched his head..."Not exactly...he kind of showed me..."

"Showed you?" Robins brow furrowed. Then he remembered how Nasir had pointed out the need for sentries. "He drew the pictures on the ground then. He is a quick learner." Robin nodded then he looked at Marion and smiled.

Nasir paused again, wondering if he should stay but the need for the new camp was more important than how he got his message across..he made for the treeline.

Tuck took the cooking pot off of the fire, and left the contents to cool. In the mean time he made his way over to the lean-to and began to pack up all the provisions that he could find. After all, he thought, they wouldn't be able to last very long if they didn't have any food in their next camp.

"It seems to work..though it isn't easy...we need to work with him on at least some basic words.." John finished.

"Much!" Will rushed down the small path that led from their camp towards the Nottingham Road ... and back, of course. As little as he liked it, but there was a point about moving the camp to a less traveled area of Sherwood... if it hadn't been for Nasir being the one bringing it up...

Much sat in the tree whittling the branch down, glancing out at the road every few minutes. Just to be safe, "Robin needs me to be on watch...." His thought was interrupted as he heard his name called out. He twisted in the tree and saw Will coming down the road. Reaching down he grabbed the branch and quickly dropped from the tree.

Marion stood across from Robin, and returned his smile. After assessing what everyone else was up to, Marion felt that she wasn't being very useful. "What can I do?" she asked her husband, slightly ashamed of her obvious helplessness so far.

"There are still a few things in the lean-to that need to be packed Tuck is working on them but I think he could use some help."

Once he had left the clearing Nasir stopped again...he looked around...the river was to the rising sun...the road to the setting...and Nottingham was downstream...they would need to be near enough to get water as they needed it and still watch the road.

"What is it, Will?" Much asked as Will came up to him. "Is something wrong?" - "Much!" Will almost jumped aside, not having noticed the young boy so close.

As Nasir approached the stream a slight fog seemed to come out of nowhere. Nasir thought he glimpsed a tall figure in the fog watching him

Marion made her way over to Tuck. "Thinking with your stomach again, I see," Marion smiled at Tuck as he searched through the few possessions for any more food.

The mist out of nowhere felt wrong and his first reaction was that de Belleme had come back..his hand immediately went to his sword. He let the pack and his bow drop at his feet as he drew the pair of blades and readied himself to confront the shadowy figure..

The figure stayed back in the mist, and then turned toward an animal trail that seemed to appear out of nowhere. As the figure turned Nasir glimpsed a stag standing on his hind legs, walking through the forest.

Much looked at Will, "You sound like you're in a hurry, is something wrong, Will?" - "Much, we're going to move the camp... what's that?" Will pointed at the branch in Much's hand. "I'm making a flute Will. I'll play it for you when it is finished." - "A flute? Out of a branch?" Will felt the urge to break into a laugh.

Nasir furrowed his brow...what kind of a trick was this? He held his ground..if it was de Belleme. The figure stopped and turned back, raising what can only be a hand he beckoned for the Saracen to follow him. After a brief moment, Nasir heard his name come as if from the trees. The figure beckoned once more and continued down the path a few more steps.

He cocked his head slightly at the sound of his name...looking at the figure again...if it was a trap he would not stop until he had succeeded at taking him...the Saracen looked back at the camp..he would not put the others at risk..he shifted one sword to his other hand and picked up the pack and bow..then followed the figure cautiously..

The stag's head turned back and moved down the trail once more leading Nasir deeper into the forest. As Nasir followed he noticed the trail seem to disappear behind him, but he could easily remember the way. As he walked he sheathed the blades but kept one hand raised to a hilt. He had seen nothing like this in all of his time with de Belleme...what kind of a game was he playing with him? Would he find himself confronted by the man and his witches when he reached wherever he was being led?

The figure lead the way into the forest. Passing several streams and calm pools, Nasir could hear the birds singing, as if their passing was completely natural.

As he walked Nasir tried to pick landmarks. If he were to somehow get away, he would need to know where he had come from. Something about their passing was not right... the animals were not disturbed by their presence and even though he had never passed this way their was a familiarity about it. He had seen how ill at ease the dogs of the castle were with de Belleme, if this was of his doing would not these animals react the same way?

The figure stopped on the trail, and raised his hand pointing. A large oak almost covered a small clearing, the sound of a brook came from nearby. The sun had almost reached the midday, yet to Nasir it seemed as only minutes had passed. The figure turned toward him, and Nasir heard once more the trees whisper. "Show Robin." The figure turned and moved into the trees. As the creature disappeared the fog went with him and the animals fell silent.

Nasir stopped as the figure did...looking around...was it a trap...it didn't feel that way...how did the figure know he knew Robin...if it was one of de Belleme's people he would not know that..or would he? He sighed softly..then checked the small clearing for signs of anyone else having been there...as he neared where the figure had last stood he stopped... squatting he scoured the ground...where was the sign of his having been here?

He looked off in the direction the figure had gone... <Arabic> "Who are you?"

At the Saracen's question, a breeze blew through the clearing. One word came to his ears, that word was - Herne....

Herne

Not expecting a response Nasir rose...as he was tucking his pack into a crook in the tree he felt the shift of wind...and then the strange word in his ears... "H...ha...her..non.." it wasn't right... but maybe it would make sense to Robin. He backtracked the route they had followed and quickly fell into a slow lope as he made his way back to the camp.

 
     
 

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