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Campfire Banter


  Tuck yawned slightly, then smiled in the warm glow of the fire. Things could be worse. A quick glance at Marian safe and sound affirmed this. Things could be much worse. True, he was amongst what many would call a band of outlaws, of dangerous brigands, but Tuck thought he knew better. Surely this was what the Lord meant for him to do when he received his calling? To keep this flock, albeit a small and rugged flock, on the path.

Looking into the orange flames, he wondered what tomorrow had in store for them when he heard someone crashing into camp. It was Much. But wasn't the lad on watch? Tuck got to his feet as Much hurriedly related what he had seen. A monk riding alone in the Greenwood? The friar mused to himself as Much turned to him and asked what it could mean.

"It could mean several things child," Tuck sighed, sorting the possibilites out through his head. It was unusual, that much was sure. "If he was moving at a pace such as you describe then his business must be most urgent." Tuck scowled. It was likely that such business would be Hugo's business. "Monks are used to life in a monastery," he reasoned. "It is likely that our boy has taken somewhere to rest for the night." Tuck looked to the others, wishing Robin were here to make a decision.

John had smiled as he listened to Much's exited report, then listened carefully to Tuck and Marion's replies. He nodded at the friar's comments about a probably most urgent business and raised an eyebrow as he saw how Marion got upset thinking Abbot Hugo might be planning on how to get her back.

The former shepherd's eyes followed the girl as she stood and walked over to the edge of the clearing. "Marion... where you're going?"

Marion, slightly startled out her thoughts, composed herself and turned to face John. "I am looking see if Robin is coming back." She gave him a small smile and turned away again to watch the woods. She wrapped her cloak around her and looked thoughtful. She thought, "Robin, where are you?"

Gisburne in search for Robin Hood

  Meg of Wickham, who had been planting seeds along with some of the other women in the village, looked up in apprehension when she heard the sound of hoof beats in the distance. She rose slowly as a group of soldiers came into view. They were shepherding some people towards Wickham. Meg turned her head sharply as she heard one of the women gasp. Alison had placed a hand to her mouth. Edward, the thane of Wickham, was among the prisoners being conducted to the village.

The villagers drew back in terror as the soldiers drew into the village. One soldier in particular caught their attention. Sitting on his horse, with his bright blue cloak and hard, cold eyes, he was hard to miss.

"I want information," announced the knight. "I'm looking for a cutthroat named Robin Hood." Gisburne waited for a response. Like Edward, the villagers stared at him blankly. Gisburne sighed audibly. "Some of you may know him better as Robin of Loxley."

"What? You mean the boy being fostered by Matthew the Miller?" piped up a voice.

Gisburne's eyes narrowed as he scanned the sea of faces below him, but he couldn't find the man who had spoken. "Yes, the very same, though the miller's dead now."

There was a shocked murmur among the people and some cold glares directed at Gisburne.

"Be silent!" ordered the knight. The villagers grew quiet at once. "Now, are any of you going to tell me Robin of Loxley's whereabouts, or am I going to have to arrest more men?"

"Wouldn't he be at the mill?" suggested one of the villagers.

"No, he isn't at the mill. He's in Sherwood," answered Gisburne impatiently.

"Then why don't you look there?" said the same villager. Gisburne looked at the man coldly. "Guards, bring that idiot forward."

Two soldiers headed towards the group of people, who attempted to hold back the guards while the man escaped.

"Get after him!" shouted Gisburne. Several guards pushed their way past screaming women and wailing children. As Gisburne heaped curses on everyone, Meg crept behind one of the huts. If this Robin Hood was who Gisburne wanted, she would go to Sherwood to find him. She had to save the other villagers from the Nottingham Castle dungeons while there was still a village standing. Meg walked quickly towards the border of the village. If she could just make it to the trees before Gisburne noticed she was missing‚€¶ ‚€œMy lord, that woman's escaping!‚€ shouted one of the soldiers. Meg took to her heels and bolted towards the trees. She could hear voices behind her, frighteningly close. Her heart almost stopped when she tripped over her skirts. Then she picked herself up, lifted her skirts higher, and kept running. She was almost at the trees now. Her lungs were burning, and she was almost sobbing in fear. She could no longer hear voices behind her and she wasn't sure if that was a good sign or a bad one. She kept up the same pace just in case. Then she was in the forest. She stood panting for a moment, not sure what to do now that she had escaped. She knew she had to find Robin Hood, but how? And when she did find him what would she say? How would she trick him into coming to Wickham? Even if she did manage such a feat, would she ever be able to return to her village again after what she had done? Meg brushed away the tears that had started running hotly down her cheeks. She had to find Robin Hood now. She would worry about the rest later.


Meg meets the Saracen

  At the distant sounds of movement in the forest ahead of him the Saracen paused, his ears focusing solely on those sounds. If it was a deer it was being pursued by someone... or something. Perhaps one of the Sheriff's men had taking to a different kind of hunting. He moved silently in the direction of the noise.... a hand instinctively raising to the hilt of one of his swords... the crashing was louder now... but it wasn't the sound of an animal... there was more to it than that. Nasir moved parallel to it, cocking his head slightly. As he reached the edge of a small cleaning he slowed and then stopped. Whatever it was was now coming directly towards him... he drew the sword and crossed his hands in front of him, the blade pointed to the ground as he stepped into the clearing ready to meet whoever it was...

When the dark man stepped out of the trees Meg's first reaction was to scream, her second was to turn and run. At least in Wickham she knew who the enemy was. She ran as if her life depended on it, calling on Herne to protect her as she stumbled over roots and through brambles in her haste to escape. "Oh, please, don't let me die here in the forest alone... please let me make it back to Wickham!"

The girl's scream was unexpected and it took Nasir a moment to react, by then she was already running back the way she'd come. Nasir debated following her, but what would be the point? He couldn't explain who he was, tell her he only wanted to help her, he couldn't even ask he what had brought her into the forest. No, better to let her return to where ever she had come from and try to warn Robin that he had been seen. He sheathed his swords and faded back into the trees before pausing to determine the direction of the camp. Only when he had his bearings did he begin to move silently through the trees towards it. His pace through the forest was slow and deliberate and numerous times he paused as an unidentifiable sound or rustle in the brush drew his attention.

Marion in the woods

  Marion stood at the edge of the clearing wondering what she should do. She glanced back to those who were there to see if they watched her. Again she turned to the woods, feeling nervous and not sure why. Her patience was beginning to wear thin and she didn't want to stay there pacing like a wild animal. She walked forward. "I'm not going to wait for Hugo or the Sheriff to find me here." she thought. "If they find me here, then everyone will be in danger and I do not wish that. I will go for a walk to calm my nerves and if need be lead de Rainault on a wild goose chase away from the camp. Perhaps I will find Robin as well." With that, she smiled and slipped off into the forest.

Away from the camp now, she walked carefully and quietly through the woods. Marion's eyes took in her surroundings and she listened to the sounds around her lest there be a trap waiting. She made sure to look for the familiar landmarks, so that she would not lose her way. She did not want to be gone too long and she would be back before they missed her....

Little John saw Marion standing on the edge of their transitory camp before his attention returned to Much and Tuck who were still discussing the issue of a monk in the forest. The next time he looked up, Marion was gone and the only sign of her was the rustling of leaves...

The big man jumped to his feet and leaving Tuck and Much behind rushed to the spot where Marion had slipped off into the forest. With Robin, Will and Nasir away he was determined to keep together what was left of their herd. "Marion! Come back!" His call echoed through the forest.

Tuck jumped slightly as John rushed away, shouting after Marion. Then he saw why.. Marion wasn't to be seen. Very suddenly, Tuck felt cold, despite the comforting warmth of the fire and his woolen robes. This was his fault. Marion had very nearly paid for his first mistake, and now she was gone into the Greenwood alone, and with the mysterious monk out as well, doing the bidding of Hugo.

Tuck sighed and looked to John. "John, go after her please, she is a strong willed girl, and good of heart, but I fear for her nonetheless," Tuck trailed off and looked into the fire. He would remain here and wait for Robin, Will, and the Infidel named Nasir. It was the best he could do.

So Friar Tuck did what he had been trained to do - what he had dedicated his life to do. He sank to his knees and crossed himself. "In nomine patri, et fili, et spiritus sancti...", and he prayed to his God, the god
he knew he would call upon more in the coming months for Marion's safe return, and for the others to return.

Marion lifted her head as if she heard something on the wind. Quickly she covered her bright auburn hair with the hood of her cloak and ducked behind some large trees and underbrush. She heard something moving fast but quietly through the wood. Marion waited hidden by the trees to see who or what was coming.

She was not disappointed. After a short time, Marion saw Little John walking quickly in the forest trying to find her. 'Can I not take a walk alone to think?' she thought almost gloomily. Marion realized that now was not the safest time to walk without company in Sherwood with Abbot Hugo's man riding here. 'I am sure that there will be time enough for walks later.' she thought as she watched Little John still looking for her.

She started preparing herself to go, then jumped as she felt a light touch on her shoulder. Marion turned prepared to fight and make a loud noise when she saw a familiar figure. Robin stood before her with with a slight smile, the venison he had hunted for their supper over his shoulder . Marion smiled in return. "You frightened me.."

Robin grinned, dropped the deer and moved to embrace her just as he saw Little John enter the clearing behind her.

"John, will you carry back the venison... Gisburne's in the forest." He slid an arm around Marion's waist.

"He's not alone... Hugo has a man in the wooods as well." The big man easily slung the deer across his shoulders, looked behind Robin then frowned. "Where are Will and Nasir... did something happen?"

"Gisburne happened... we split up... I imagine they'll be back to camp by the time we get there." Robin turned to Marion with a smile, "We better head back... I'll tell you all about it when we get there.."

Marion wrapped her arm around Robin's waist and smiled. "You had better tell me everything or you will be in trouble." She kissed Robin on the cheek and began walking toward the camp. "What does Gisburne want here? I thought that he was afraid of these 'haunted woods'. Unless, of course, he is here to find you..." Marion turned her face from him, so he would not see her nervousness. "Or the rest of us. Then again, Gisburne never had a good sense of direction..."

Marion moved away from Robin, but she took his hand for a moment and slightly squeezed it. She walked ahead in thought.

Will returns

  Cursing Will stumbled over another root. This forest was not yet his home - roots, gnats, brambles... Above all he had lost his bow, had to run off into the forest when Gisburne and his men came and on top of it all the Saracen had saved his life... he felt a part of his mistrust towards Nasir return - what if the Saracen had tried to kill him and by chance shot the villain? What if they all had been fooled? Will bit his lip and abandoned himself to suspicion... when he finally reached the camp and he only found Tuck and Much all he could do was to bark at them... "Where the hell is everyone?!"

Tuck rose, letting his crucifix fall from his hands against his breast. "I don't believe they're in hell, Will," he said laconically. "Marian and John Little entered the woods not too long ago." He adjusted his brown woolen robe and sat again by the fire, tending it with a stick. He had kept an eye on it while praying.. a beacon for the others to return to. It didn't occur to him that it might attract other, less welcome visitors.

Tuck turned to Will Scarlett again. "Did you see Nasir?" Tuck wasn't sure how to approach the topic of the Saracen. He had never been much of an evangelist, prefering to spend his time in prayer. But it was his duty to bring the Word to savages, even the most noble ones. But there was time enough for those thoughts later. Tuck stood by the fire, waiting.

On Tuck's first remark Will stifled the immediate response he had in mind... he hadn't meant it literally and of course he knew the others weren't in hell, but after a moment of reflection his humor had the better of him and a broad grin crossed Will's face as he sat and watched the friar see to the fire. The smile vanished as soon as Nasir's name was mentioned. "Nasir - don't know where he is. Met a couple of villains on the road..."

Will told Tuck and Much what had happened on the road... everything but the fact that he now owed is life to Nasir. He finished... "then Gisburne showed up and we ran off into the forest separately." Both Robin and the Saracen should have been here by now. What took them so long? Finally Will pointed towards the fire and grinned again from ear to ear. "If you keep that fire burning bright enough though, it could give all of us a foretaste of hell..."


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