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Chapter 12

Exploring Sherwood: Preparations


  Robin rose from where he was sitting by the fire. "Tuck, you keep cooking like that and we'll all be as big as you are." Robin patted the Friar on his back then looked around the new camp.

Nasir had separated himself from the group again... choosing a tree close enough to hear the conversations around the fire, but far enough away to keep himself from being the focus of them. At the moment he was working on a new arrow... and he raised his eyes from it as he saw Robin stand.

Robin stretched his back then looked over those gathered here under the oak. He walked over to Will, "Will, I need your help. We need to know the layout of the land, what trees to climb, places to hide."

Much had asked John for a lesson with the quarterstaff - the two of them were now busy finding a suitable staff for the boy.

"I am going scouting, I want you and Nasir to accompany me." Robin's look told Will that the feud must come to an end.

Nasir ran the blade of the small knife along one end... setting the grooves that would hold the feathers. At the mention of his name he paused and looked over to the fire.

Will nodded - better that than watching Tuck preparing their next meal or helping Marion to decorate their new lean-to ...

The Saracen slid the unfinished arrow into his quiver and sheathed the blade as he stood. He watched Robin as he spoke with Will, but did not approach...better to keep his distance for the moment.

"If we are going to live together, we need to be as one. Otherwise any one of us might be the next to die. Do you understand?" Robin held out his hand to help Will up. "Let's go friend." He smiled at Will, "Let's go."

Nasir pulled his swords from the ground beside him.. sliding each into its sheath as he saw Robin move to help Will up. Reaching for the bow that lay on the ground he looked for the signal to join them.

Will darted his eyes from Robin to Nasir back to Robin ... "We will see," he said, then grabbed Robin's hand.

When Will was standing Robin turned toward Nasir. "Nasir, I need you with us." He watched to make sure the Saracen understood before moving to grab his bow and swords.

Nasir nodded and approached the two men... his bow in one hand... his quiver in the other.

Will brushed some leaves off his pants. Picking up sword and bow he said "Ready."

"I think we should take something to eat as well we might be out for a while." Robin went to the lean-to and grabbed some foodstuffs and placed it in his belt pouch, then waited for the others to do the same.

Following Robin to the shelter Nasir took some of the deer jerky and slid it in his pouch..then as an afterthought added an apple. Stepping outside again he made room for Will to enter.

Shouldering the quiver and bow Robin watched the two men get ready, then moved to wait for them by the fire.

As Robin headed for the fire the Saracen did the same.

Will slowly followed Nasir and waited for him to leave the shelter. He took what he needed, then left the lean-to again. "No waterskin?" he asked as he approached the two men by the fire.

The Saracen raised an eyebrow in a silent question as he waited for Robin to give the signal for them to leave, then turned his head at Will's question.

"Let's go then." Robin turned and laughed. "It never occurred to me to bring one - with all the streams nearby. Good idea, Will." He turned and quickly grabbed a waterskin then motioned for the two men to follow him.

Nasir nodded and headed towards the treeline.

"Be careful." Tuck warned. "All of you." He added as he looked from one to the other.

Will nodded towards Tuck, then trotted off to follow Robin and Nasir into the forest.

Will follows Robin into the forest

Nasir looked at the Friar and dipped his head in acknowledgement... a small smile creasing his face for an instant, then he turned his attention back to the others.

"We will Tuck, keep an eye on everything here, and tell John to take it easy on Much." Robin reached up and rubbed his shoulder.

"Aye...I'll do that." Tuck said with a laugh.



Exploring Sherwood


  Robin entered the forest. "Nasir, what we are doing is looking for places to hide in, trees to watch from that we cannot be seen in, that type of thing.  You understand?"

As they moved out of sight of the camp, Nasir signaled that he would move off to the right of the others, then he nodded at Robin's words. As he did it dawned on him that they had no signal to alert each other if they found something. He turned back to Robin... his brow creased as he tried to figureout a way to ask about it.

"Good, Will, you go to the left then. I'll take the middle."

"Where are you heading? Which direction?" Will asked.

"Let's head west. We can scout towards Wickham, then back from the South. If any of us needs to contact the others, whistle."

The Saracen smiled to himself as Robin seemed to sense the unspoken question.. then put his attention on the task at hand and began scouring the trees. As he saw a break between two bramble bushes he disappeared between them and thus from Robin and Will's sight.

"What do you want in Wickham?" Will moved slowly to the left, kicking on a broken twig.

"We need to learn the area, the area between here and Wickham is a place to start. Will," Robin turned to face him. "What's going on between you and Nasir?"

Will stood and returned Robin's look. "Nothing. That's all there is and all there'll ever be."

"Okay, I'm glad you are giving him a chance. He needs that now more than anything."  Turning Robin also slipped into the forest heading west.

Will snapped off a twig that hung in his way. "I wouldn't call that giving him a chance..." he mumbled, before he continued his way through the forest.

The deerman...Herne.. the Saracen reminded himself...had chosen this place well... there were few signs of poachers or anyone having been here before them. He could hear the murmur of Robin and Will as they talked to his left, but other than using it as a source of reference he paid little attention to it.

Nasir paused at an old oak..looking up into it's branches... leaning his bow and quiver against the trunk he jumped up to grab the lowest branch, then hoisted himself up onto it. As he moved higher into it's branches he looked across the forest...he could faintly see the smoke from their cookfire..but it did not seem overly noticeable... he looked around for any sign of paths
ahead of them.

As Robin made his way into the forest he watched the trees, the ground, anything that might prove an ally in the many battles to come. Robin thought back to his childhood, to all the times he spent climbing trees, "I never thought that would be useful," he muttered.

 As he saw Robin and Will split Nasir climbed back down and grabbing his things moved to follow... he heard the sound of the water before he came onto the small stream... kneeling next to it he lay his bow down then scooped up a handful of water and drank. He let his gaze travel up the bank...looking for any sign of people having used it recently.

Robin looked up at the sky. The sun had past noon a while back, Robin stretched his legs as he rested a few moments. They had been scouting for a couple of hours now, it seemed about time to stop and eat.

Will made his way through the underbrush unenthusiastically ... trees, bushes, trunks, more trees ... he didn't know what to look for exactly and truth to be told he was tired of this game. He stopped for a moment, then swatted a gnat on the back of his neck. "Wonderful ... I love the forest."

When he saw none Nasir rose. Picking up the bow he moved along its bank, continuing in the direction of the village.



Unwelcome visitors


  The six robbers crouched in the trees watching as the two cart rumbled towards them. Their leader, a tall, emaciated man, motioned 3 of them to take the rear. He ran his tongue across his lips... then laughed inwardly... an old man, a girl and three unarmed farmers... it would be like stealing from an old lady. He nodded to the men on either side of him and the three stepped out in front of the carts with swords raised. He saw the men on the carts immediately look behind them as if thinking they could turn back... then he laughed as the rest of his men blocked that escape route. As the men surrounded the wagons he motioned the occupants down from them, expecting no resistance. Suddenly one of the peasants tossed a waterskin at the man nearest to him and at the same time yelled for the  young girl to jump from the wagon...

"Git her..." The leader yelled at one of his men as the girl broke free of them and ran for the forest.. "I want all of 'em witnesses." With that he pulled an old man from the first cart and threw him to the ground.

Robin headed down the path his bow ready, the sounds of a struggle from up ahead setting him on edge. He quickly moved down the road to get to where he could see what was going on. Robin moved over to the side as he heard voices. His eyes were pulled to the side as a young girl broke free and headed for the forest. He watched as three men broke off from the group and headed after her.

"I got her..." The robber that took off after the girl was filthy ...let the others fight...he had better things planned for her.

When she'd felt the men were not longer holding her she'd ran... "Help!" she yelled, the sound of their laughter ringing in her ears.

Robin slipped into the trees. As the girl slipped past he raised the bow and fired. The arrow embedded in a tree not a foot in front of the man's nose.


Nasir turned towards the road to Wickham as he heard the scream..then listened.. immediately he heard the sounds of a battle...pulling an arrow from his quiver he notched it to his bow as he ran towards the sound.

As the girl looked back over her shoulder she saw the filthiest of all of the robbers was following her ... then she stumbled and fell to the ground. She looked up and through the trees saw a young man with a longbow in his hands.

The leader of the robbers looked up just in time to see the three men break for the girl. "You two, he can handle her get back here!"

"What the..." The man stopped in his tracks...watching as the girl escaped..

Robin drew a second arrow, and notched it. "You have done more than enough damage today. I think it's time you go home."

Will continued his way through the forest when he noticed the first sounds... voices, screaming ... sounds of battle.

The robber looked at the man with the bow...dirty hands clutching the battered sword..." Come on then...," he motioned him forward... then laughed... revealing rotted teeth. "I think you'd better go..I got plans.."

Robin never took his eyes off of the man, "Go hide," he whispered to the girl. He set his bow down and drew his sword. "Plans change."

"Not these.." He looked to the girl and grabbed his crotch lewdly.. "This ain't none of your concern."

Like the handsome man with the longbow had told, her the girl crawled on her knees away from the open path and hid behind some bushes.

Robin stepped forward, his sword drawn. "You just made it my concern. If you want to live you'll leave now."

"Now why'd ya have ta go and do that..?" The man approached Robin...

Robin glanced out of the corner of his eyes at the girl to see that she was safely on her way.

"Nice sword..may have ta take that after I kill ya."

Without thinking of the others Will rushed through the forest. As he was close enough to see what was happening he fired his first arrow at one of the robbers climbing one of the carts, but missed him.

"If the Sheriff can't do that - what makes you think you can?" Suddenly Robin lunged forward striking the blade in the man's hand. Robin spun and kicked the man's arse so he fell into a tree. When the man stood up blood was coming from his nose.

As the arrow flew past him the man looked up...slashing his blade across thepeasant's stomach he lept from the cart..."Now who are you?" The man asked as he charged Will.

Will cursed and cast away bow and arrow - he had always been a better swordsman than archer. He unsheathed his sword, jumped over some bushes and attacked a man close to the cart. The man traded blows.. turning him so that Will's back was to the cart and thus he was unable to see the leader as he came up behind him... the man nodded to his accomplice as he raised his

The man raised his hand and wiped the blood from his face. "Time for you to learn some manners, whelp!" As the man raised his sword, Robin easily blocked it, then brought his left fist up to hit the man's jaw. The man staggered backward, and tripped. There was a crack as the man's head hit a rock and then lay still. Robin leaned down and checked him. "He's not dead, good." Robin stood up and taking the man's sword and dagger, left him. He looked around searching for signs of the girl.

Nasir released the arrow just as he saw the man ready to attack Will from behind.. the feathers whistled past Scarlet's cheek before the arrow found its mark..the leader of the bandit's mouth flew open in surprise as he grabbed the arrow that was now embedded in his chest...then his eyes widened in surprise as the Saracen stepped into the clearing..releasing a second arrow at the same instant.

Will parried the man's blows but wasn't able to drive his opponent into a corner himself ... when something whistled past his cheek he only noticed from the corner of his eye a figure dressed in black leather and studded jerkin. That filthy Saracen shot at him ... the anger doubled his strength and he finished his assailant with the next blow. The man was dead before he hit the ground...Nasir tossed his bow aside..drawing his swords as he saw another of the robbers cut an old man down...

"It's all right, you can come out now," Robin called out to her then turned back, he took several steps toward the man when the sound of the battle at the carts caught his attention. He tossed the man's sword and dagger away then grabbed his bow and ran toward the sound.

The girl leaned forward to see where the young man headed after he had killed the robber ... directly back into battle. Would he be angry if she chose to stay hidden?

Nasir was on the man before he could think.. the peasant he could handle.. but this was one of them... the man couldn't remember what they were called..but he knew they were killers...he immediately turned to flee.

Robin emerged from the trees in time to see Nasir's shots on the leader, before the last of the men began to turn and run for the forest.

"You!" Will was about to go after Nasir, filled with rage about the Saracen's betrayal, when a sword suddenly landed tip first on the ground right beside him, the blade swaying. Deciding that this was the immediate threat he turned his head and saw the robber hang from the cart - dead, two arrows deeply embedded in his chest.

Nasir smiled at the robber's reaction..but he was not about to let the man get away.. he quickened his pace and overtaking the man slashed his blade across the man's side...then as he fell drew the other blade across his throat. He turned..blood dripping from his blades...and looked to see who still remained a threat.


The dead man must have lost the blade ... Will realized finally that Nasir not only had not fired at himself, but at the robber on the cart behind him.Robin saw what Nasir was doing. "Nasir, let them go," Robin shouted as he moved to check the men around the cart.

Nasir stopped at Robin's call...looking up...two robbers still lived...though both were wounded... he approached the closest of the two...then looked at the carnage they had caused...better to finish them he thought as he continued to the man.

As Robin checked the bodies he found only one of the villagers dead, the others wounded, but unconscious. He stood up and watched them, "Nasir, if you kill themyou become no better than they are. We can tie these men up, there is another in the forest, I'll get him. The villagers can turn them over."

Nasir looked over to Robin again..drew a breath and nodded... squatting he pulled a handful of grass from the ground then wiped the blood from his blades before resheathing them. Rising he walked over to where he had tossed his bow and quiver. He picked them up then returned to where the carts stood..

Will ran a hand through his hair, then once more looked at the two dead men at the cart and on the ground, the blade still swaying very close to his leg.

Nasir grabbed the body closest to the wagon and picked him up... ignoring the fact that Scarlet stood not 3 feet from him... grunting he hoisted the man up onto the seat then climbed up to throw him into the back of the wagon.

Will was used to all kind of reactions - but being ignored was the hardest of all. He swallowed, then turned towards Nasir... "Let me help."

Nasir looked down at Will then paused..waiting for the man to join him. As he looked at the body he smiled to himself..the two arrows sat almost on top of each other..just inches from the man's heart.

Will climbed the cart. He followed Nasir's eyes. "Good shots," then paused before he offered his hand to the Saracen. "Friends ... remember?"

Nasir nodded again and with a small smile took the offered hand.



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