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Chapter 13:

After the attack

book

  Nasir looked down to where Robin was kneeling next to one of the village men...the bearded, blond haired man held one arm carefully and he could see the blood from a sword cut on the upper part of it. From his vantage point he could see the other villagers beginning to stir...as well as those surviving robbers..it was then too that he saw the young woman enter the clearing and he nudged Scarlet, directing his attention to her with a gesture.

Fianna was no longer able to hold back the tears..and as she came to the road she stopped...wrapping her arms around herself she found herself wishing her sister were there...instead there were strangers...the young man from the forest knelt to Edward...two others stood in one of the wagons...she shivered as they looked straight at her.

Will looked up at Nasir's nudge and his look followed to where the Saracen pointed, then grinned at the girl. His grin vanished as he noticed that the young girl was in no condition of smiling back at him.

Nasir climbed down from the wagon and went over to where the robbers lay...he had grabbed some rope from the wagon and he used this to bind their arms behind them before roughly dragging them to their feet and pushing them to a second wagon.

With a gesture of his head Will let Nasir know he was going to care of the girl, before they both climbed down from the wagon.

When the man grinned, Fianna lowered her eyes...her skirt was covered with mud and grass stains..and had several small tears in it...she raised her eyes again..glad though that it was he, and not the dark one...she had heard of men who looked like him...they were who the wars were fought with..why was he here with them? She shivered again despite herself..why was it so cold?

Will looked at the girl and once again caught himself comparing her to Elena - a habit he could not get rid of. She was not as beautiful as his wife - no woman was - but the way she looked at him reminded him of how he used to be before Elena was killed. As assuredly as possible he said as he approached the young girl "It's over..."

Without realizing it Fianna found herself stepping back from him as he approached her...what was he going to do..were they outlaws too?

With the last of the robbers in the wagon Nasir remembered the one Robin had said was in the forest...he would have to approach Will and the girl...he started to them. Fianna's eyes widened as the dark man began to come towards them. "No..," she whispered as she stepped back again...what were they going to do to her...she looked to Edward, unable to hide her mounting fear..

Will stood as she stepped back, almost regretting his gentleness. Why didn't she see he wasn't one of the robbers? Or what else frightened her? At the girl's anxious expression on her face Will finally turned his head and saw Nasir approaching them. "Look, we really mean you no harm," he began louder, but restrained himself from his usual frankness. "We are the ones that saved you and your friends from the robbers and he," he pointed at Nasir, "is my friend and one of us. You have no reason to be afraid."

She nodded at his words...then looked again at Edward..he didn't seem to be afraid of them...she swallowed nervously as the dark one passed them..his eyes seeming to take her in as he did..."Who are you?", she asked, her voice shaking.

As he skirted where they were and made his way into the forest Nasir only received further confirmation of how difficult his decision to stay here would be..his very presence was enough to scare them...maybe he had made a mistake...as he heard the rustling ahead he lay a hand on the hilt of one sword.

Will took a step closer to her. "That is Robin," he raised a hand and pointed over to where Robin and one of the villagers held their conversation, "that was Nasir," his hand panned to the spot where Nasir had entered the forest, "and my name is Will. Will Scarlet. You are?" - "Fianna..Fianna of Wickham." She looked over to where the dark one had entered the forest. "He's one of those..." she stopped herself as she realized what she was about to say.

When he reached where the man lay bound in the forest Nasir grabbed his arm and despite his protests, silently hauled him to his feet then began to drag him back to the road.

If the situation hadn't been as serious as it was, Will would have broken into a laughter. Was it really merely an hour ago when he had thought of the Saracen as alien element to Robin's band .. and now he found himself protecting him against this girl... he grimaced. "He is one of the men that saved your life. You better not forget that, Fianna of Wickham."

Maybe it was the way he said it..maybe it was just everything that had happened catching up with her...her legs suddenly felt weak and all she could do was sink to the ground...then wrapping her arms around her knees she lay her head on them and began to cry.

Her sinking to the ground came completely unexpected ... Will had forgotten how sensitive women, especially young girls, could be. He could not bear to hear any of them cry. "Hey ... " He stooped at her side and nudged her helplessly, but couldn't say more.

Fianna looked over to him at his touch then reached up to wipe her face.."I'm sorry...I just want to go home."

Nasir pushed the man out onto the road...glancing to where Will now knelt by the girl...he let his eyes sweep the area..the other two peasants now stood by Robin and the other man...he pulled the man he had to the wagon and secured him with the other robbers.

"We will take you home." Will patted the girl's shoulder. No matter what his opinion was about Marion and her not being able to even light a fire, but this was definitely something she would handle better than he could. He glanced at Fianna. "Better now?"

Without thinking Fianna found her gaze once again drifting to the dark one...he was so different from them...she looked back at Will as he spoke and nodded..."He's one of the ones we are fighting in the wars isn't he?" She said quietly, her curiosity beginning to outweigh her earlier fear.

Will nodded. "Aye, we fight 'em where he comes from..." Then added reluctantly.. "but here he's fighting with us."

 
     

candle

Hugo

book

  Abbot Hugo de Rainault had never believed in God, at least not in the way that was understood by his fellow churchmen. The church for him was a way of achieving power and wealth, and if this was successful, as it usually was for him, then Hugo allowed himself to think that a divine power was smiling on him.

Sitting in his expensively furnished room in the Abbey after an impressively expansive meal, Hugo allowed himself to think of how he was to further his ambitions. The most important weapons in his holy armoury were fear and superstition, and these were becoming rusty as an old sword. Upon the arrival of St Augustine to these wretched Isles back in the mists of time, the English were a proud people, taking charge of their own affairs and worshipping in their own way a variety of heretical pagan Gods. The arrival of Christian missionaries from the Roman church had brought them cruelly under the yoke and it was the fruits of this labour which Hugo now enjoyed. But worship of the old gods had never completely died out, and despite what he had told Gisburne about not interfering with ancient powers, Hugo now felt that something had to be done. The appearance of this Robin Hood and his ragtag band of wolfsheads (including Marion of Leaford, whose treasonous rebellion had cost Hugo her lands) had rekindled peasant worship for that most heretical of Gods, Herne. Tithes were not being paid, church services were dwindling, and the people of Nottingham and the surrounding areas were becoming steadily more disrespectful, and most importantly less fearful. Belief in other Gods did not bother Hugo, but church taxes depended on the belief that hell was the alternative to paying. Hugo was not prepared to give up his lavish lifestyle and had resolved to stamp out this heresy by any means necessary. Herne must be destroyed, and Hugo knew just the man to do it..

He called to a monk who was hurrying down the corridor. "I want to send a message to Rome. You will deliver it."

The monk, a young man with grey eyes looked startled. "But my Lord Abbot.. It is time for matins"

Hugo scowled."Never mind that. This is urgent". "But my lord what about your Holy envoys?"

The monk was puzzled, there was a procedure to these things, he was sure.

Hugo was beginning to get irritated. "Be quiet, lest I decide you need to take a ten year vow of silence to prove your piety to our lord." The monk fell silent.

"This message is of the utmost secrecy, my brother and the King must not know, neither must the bishops. It concerns a most holy matter which must not be revealed to anyone, on pain of torture. Physical agony is nothing compared to the torment that will be visited on the soul of he who would pass this to any man. Do you understand?" The monk gulped and nodded.

"God go with you" were the Abbots final words. Passing him a sealed parchment, Hugo bade him hurry and watched as the cowled figure disappeared from sight.

Provided that the brother could hold his tongue until he reached the Holy See, the Inquisitor would ensure that the contents of the message went no further. It would be hard not to undertake a vow of silence when you have no tongue to speak of. Hugo sat back in his chair, his face betraying an oily gleam of satisfaction. When the inqusitor arrived, Herne would be reduced to nothing but a folk memory. And if along the way, the wolfsheads suffered an agonising death, well that would be one up on Robert, wouldn't it?

Outside in the abbey stables, Brother Simon pondered what had transpired. The abbot seemed very concerned about something, but it was not Simon's place to question this. The sin of curiousity was one he did not wish to add to his burden. He had seen Abbot Hugo have a young novice flogged for bringing him cold shaving water, the man had a temper like the devil. Crossing himself. Brother Simon set out on the first leg of his long journey. Through Sherwood...

 
     

candle

Hunting

book

  The hunting party had stopped to rest in a glade near Wickham. Gisburne was now tired, irritable and frustrated. They had spent all morning, and a good portion of the afternoon, hunting the outlaws and, yet, they had still come up with nothing: not even the trace of a trail. The knight was ready to call off the search and return to Nottingham. Then he saw his horse prick up its ears.

Irritable and frustrated - Guy

Gisburne, who usually found he could read horses better than men and, had in fact, observed this particular trait in his horse before, silenced his chattering men and listened carefully. Yes, there it was. It was faint but distinctive: the whinny of another horse.

Gisburne knew that the outlaws weren't likely to possess horses, but might not the owner of this particular horse have seen something during his travels...? Gisburne mounted his horse and started to ride in the direction where the sound had emanated from. He trusted his men to know enough to follow.

"My lord, where are we going?" asked Henry, riding up beside him.

"I heard something."

"The outlaws?"

"Possibly," said Gisburne.

Henry, who wasn't satisfied with this cryptic answer, wished to question the knight some more. However, Gisburne had suddenly halted his horse.

In the distance, Henry could just make out a group of people on the road. He glanced at Gisburne and saw a smile slowly spread across his lips.

Henry

"Is it them?"

"Oh, yes," answered the knight. He signalled to his men, and the foot soldiers drew up beside them, while the other riders had already lined up behind the two lead mounts. Then Gisburne jerked the reins and the soldiers were charging down the road.

 
     
 

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