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candle

Chapter 11:

New beginnings

book
     
  For never having passed through this part of the forest, Nasir was surprised at how easily he navigated it...paths seemed to appear from nowhere and disappear behind him as he made his way back towards the camp.

Robin looked up at the sun approaching mid day, "Where is Nasir? He should have been back by now. John, have we got everything ready?"

John scratched his beard. "Yeah, think so.. . don't worry about Nasir, he'll find a nice spot."

Tuck bundled the last of their cookware in a blanket then tied it with a piece of leather...he looked around the camp, his eyes settling on the deer from the previous evening...could they carry that as well, or did they abandon it?

Robin smiled at John, "It's not him I'm worried about." Robin turned and looked back over the camp towards the trail leading toward the road to Nottingham Castle.

John laughed at Robin's comment. Aye, it wasn't really Nasir they should worry about. He turned towards Tuck and pointed at the deer. "You forgot your dinner, Tuck." - "Very funny, John...can we carry it along with everything else?"

Only when he reached banks of the stream did Nasir let himself pause...he stooped and scooped a handful of water..soothing his dry throat as he drank deeply...then scooping another handful he poured it over his head. He allowed himself to take another drink as he looked around..was the stranger even now watching him? Nasir scooped one last handful of the water, then doused his head once more before he rose and shook the water off...he had better get back to camp...he turned and made his way up the path to the others.

John lay his strong arm around Tuck's shoulders and in a mocking voice he said "Tuck, we don't want any poor poacher being accused of having shot this deer, do we? So we will have to carry it with us... " He patted Tuck's back once more then picked up the deer.

"Better you carry it than me..." The friar moved to see if anything had been left behind in the shelter.

Much looked around as he headed back for the camp with Will. "Why do we have to move the camp, Will? I think the camp is a good one."

"Ask Robin." Will growled. "Get your... flute... and come."

He looked at Will and started to follow the man in silence. "Didn't Rob...." Much saw the look on Wills face and stopped in mid sentence.

At the sound of voices Nasir slowed...dropping back behind some bushes until he recognized them...the boy...and the one who distrusted him. He would not hide from them...he stepped onto the path as they reached him.

Will looked in amazement at the figure in black that suddenly rose from nowhere. Acting on instinct his hand reached for the hilt of his sword. "You...."

As Nasir stepped onto the path, Much jumped to the side, not recognizing him. Grabbing at Will's Jerkin, he shouted "WILL, LOOK OUT!" - "Much!" Will yelled as the boy grabbed his jerkin. "Let go of me!"

The hand at the hilt was all Nasir saw... and his immediately followed suit..though he did not draw them...

Robin's head jerked up at the shout from the path. He dropped his bundles and reached for his sword then glanced at John before he headed for the path. John immediately dropped the deer and grabbed his staff, then followed Robin.

Nasir warily watched the two men..what were they doing? His hands tightened on the hilt..if they moved, he was ready..

Much quickly recovered and let go of Will's jerkin then he recognized Nasir. "Oh it's you. You scared me."

Tuck looked at Robin and John..then to Marion..."I'll stay here...with Marion."

At the change in the boy he lowered his hands, though he was still on guard until he saw what the other planned to do..

Robin quickly covered the distance down the trail in the direction of the shout, half expecting to find the Sheriff's men around Will and Much he drew his sword.

Will gazed from Much to Nasir and back, then his hand returned from the hilt. He hissed at Much "Don't do that again," then moved his arm to get the jerkin back in place.

"Sorry, Will. I didn't mean to."

Nasir looked past them and to the camp as he saw both Robin and John approaching with their weapons...

Will growled once more... then nodded and clapped the boy's back. As he noticed that Nasir looked past them he followed the Saracen's eyes...

Nasir drew in a breath...how to tell them about the new camp and the one who had shown it to him?

Robin slowed as he heard the voices up ahead, and walked toward them "What's wrong, Will?"

The Saracen dipped his head to acknowledge the other men's arrival.

"Nothing ain't wrong. He-" Will pointed with his head towards Nasir, "just scared Much, that's all. Why do ask me?"

John was relieved to find all of his friends in no danger, but he wasn't too glad to see Will and Nasir together again ... he slowly walked to over to Will.

Robin nodded back at Nasir, then turned to Will, resheathing his sword. "We heard Much back at the Camp. I thought that you might have run into trouble."

"No, we only ran into - him."

"Good, Let's get back to camp we have a lot to move. Nasir, did you find a new site?"

Nasir's jaw tightened at the man's reference to him...but he was determined to do nothing to increase the tension between them...at Robin's question he brought his attention back to them and nodded.

"Good," Turning Robin moved back down the path towards Tuck, and Marion.

He needed to tell them of the horned man..."Her...non.." He struggled with the unfamiliar sounds..

"What was that, Nasir?"

"Her..non..." He pointed back towards the stream..

Robin turned back toward the Saracen, "Her.. non," Robin repeated then his eyes went toward the stream. "You mean Herne," Robin asked.

"Her..na" He nodded, that was the name...he pointed to himself, then his eyes, then lastly motioned forward...

Robin smiled, "I understand, Herne showed you where we should camp didn't he?"

Nasir nodded and let a smile cross his face..."Herne..." he repeated the word a final time as he caught the difference.

"Well, it seems we won't have to move from this new site for a while." Robin looked back at John and the others. "Lets go Herne has guided us toward a safe place and right now I think we all could use that more than anything."

Will was the last to move towards their old camp. "Herne ... a forest ghost ... and a Saracen ..." He shook his head. How could Robin trust a ghost and a man not even able to speak their language? He slowly followed them.

Turning robin set off down the path With Much following close behind. "Robin, what do you mean Herne guided us, he's a spirit isn't he? He's not real..."

The Saracen nodded..he didn't know who this Herne was...or why they trusted him so...but it was enough to alleviate any doubts he might have about it having been a trap by de Belleme.

Tuck stood anxiously watching the trees...a small log in his hand...

"He's very real Much, and he's not a spirit or a ghost. I have seen him a few times, myself, and talked to him each time. He guided us here and I think we would not have gotten here without him."

Nasir allowed the others to pass. It was his intention to bring up the rear...but then Nasir hesitated...and fell in behind John...not fully comfortable with having the man at his back but figuring he would not risk trying anything with the others there.

"After all it was him who told me of the Silver arrow." Much watched his brother for a few moments as they neared the camp.

Robin, seeing the camp ahead, shouted "Tuck, Marion, it's all right!"

John listened to Robin's explanation about Herne ... he didn't know too much about this shrouded figure..

Tuck crossed himself and looked upward..."Thank you..." then went back to putting all the bundles together.

"Nasir was shown a safe place for us to camp." Robin moved and began picking up his bundles that he had dropped earlier.

Nasir listened silently..a spirit...a ghost...he had seen what the horned one could do..call the fog...walk undisturbed among the animals...could a man do those things?

"Shown? By who?" The Friar paused in mid action as Robin spoke and looked at him in disbelief...wasn't that one of their legends?

"By Herne, Tuck, you know the Lord of the Trees." Robin glanced at Marion as he said that then finished gathering the bundles.

"He isn't real...it's a story told over fires by those who don't know any better."

Robin walked over to Tuck and placed his arm around the man's shoulders. "Oh, then I guess you don't want to meet him then, I was going to introduce you to him but...." Robin shrugged and moved toward the hastily dropped bundles.

The Friar's jaw dropped...this couldn't be happening..it went against everything he believed...

"You know Tuck, you might want to ask Nasir. After all he just saw him this morning."

Tuck looked at Marion..surely she didn't believe all of this...then he shook his head...and went back to work.

As they entered the camp Nasir went to where the water had hung..then frowned as he saw the bags were no longer there.

Will looked at what was left of their camp ... so Robin was serious about moving it. He looked up as he noticed John stood at his side.

"We should tear that down to." Robin looked at the lean to then headed for it. He paused only a moment to set the ordered packs down so that he could quickly pick them back up.

At Robin's request he immediately went to the lean to...drawing a knife he cut the lashings...

"We'll leave it here, some of the villagers can use it for fire wood. Much, help Tuck with the provisions." Robin drew forth a knife and began to assist Nasir. Between the two of them they quickly dismantled the lean to and piled it at the base of a tree. Robin turned back and looked around at everyone. "Well are we ready to go?"

"We need to talk... later. Now we need your help, too. C'mon, lad, they are your friends even if you don't want them to be..." Turning towards Robin, John shouted "What can we do?"

When they had finished Nasir raised his hand..wiping the sweat from his brow... before moving over to where Tuck had piled their provisions...picking up one of the bundles he shouldered it then moved to the path.

"Let's get the bags I don't want to stay here any longer than we have to." Robin picked up the bundles he had laid out then went to follow Nasir pausing only to make sure everyone was ready.

Reluctantly Will followed John who picked up the deer and one of the bundles before following Nasir, then took a bundle himself.

Tuck slung a grain sack over one shoulder then picked up the cooking pot.

As Nasir lead the way into the forest, Robin looked around the old site. All at once he shivered hard, as if they had just narrowly escaped discovery by the Sheriff. Glancing toward the path one last time, Robin turned and followed the group into the forest toward their new home, and their future.

 
     
candle

Close, but not close enough

book
     
  "My lord, it was here! I swear it was here!" cried Henry, scouring the glade frantically. It was just before dawn and a sleepless night had done nothing to improve Guy of Gisburne's mood.

"Where is it, then? Did it just vanish?" said Gisburne with a sneer.

"I...I..." began Henry.

"My lord, look!" One of the soldiers held up a small bone. Sir Guy's brow creased as he accepted the proffered item.
He examined it closely, observing the traces of meat on the bone. If he wasn't mistaken, and Gisburne was quite certain that he wasn't, he was in fact holding a stag's bone and what remained of a tasty venison supper.

"They were here," he murmured. Then he tossed the bone over his shoulder, focusing his attention on Henry again. "It seems you were telling the truth."

"What reason would I have to lie, my lord?" asked Henry cautiously. The knight smiled, but it wasn't a look that inspired confidence.

"I think we'll do some hunting today," commented Gisburne. "We've come all this way and it would be a great pity to leave with nothing."

 
     
 

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