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Robin speaks with Herne

  "Robin...." He heard the sound like a whisper through the trees and his steps faltered. "Robin in the hood..."

Pausing, Robin looked around, dark eyes searching the forest surrounding him. He'd heard that voice before. It was eerie, mystical, holding a deep, quiet surety that somehow calmed his turbulent emotions. Turning at a whisper of sound, he saw the sunlight filtering through the trees, causing a bright spot amid the great oaks. There came a fog from nowhere, at least nowhere that Robin could detect, and he took a step toward the bright sunlight. A moment more and he was face-to-face with Herne, the forest spirit. He appeared to be a man and yet Robin knew he was something more, something Robin couldn't quite fathom. Yet, he felt no fear.

"You called?" He murmured quietly, dropping to one knee, head bowed in reverence.

Herne smiled just faintly, his long grey-white hair fluttering in the breeze which came from nowhere and everywhere at once. "You come searching for answers, yet you find none. Tell me what troubles you." Came the quiet answer that seemed to be both audible and in Robin's head.

Robin lifted his head and searched the wisened face, the blue eyes that sparkled strangely in the sunlight. He had seen Herne before, and yet he had worn the great stag's head and the flowing cloak. Now, he appeared merely a man. No, not merely a man. Something much more. He didn't question the spirit's presence here, nor his knowledge that he knew of Robin's turmoil, merely nodded.

"There is dissention between us. The Saracen's presence is not accepted by all. And Marion..." He sighed and lowered his gaze to the forest floor, not certain how to speak of his beloved.

"Come, my son. Walk with me." Came the answer. Herne turned and began to move through the forest, not looking to see if Robin followed, but knowing he would. He made no sound as he walked and the forest seemed to brighten with his passing although the day was waning and night was swiftly approaching.

Robin stood and did as he was bade without question. He had the feeling that his questions and concerns wouldn't be answered as he wished, but then again, Herne usually spoke in strange riddles. Still, his words were wise and there was truth within them, not like the ones he had heard so many times from lords and those in power. Moving at Herne's side, he watched his feet, and vaguely wondered why his own steps could be heard but not the spirit's. Then again, he was, after all, a forest spirit. Perhaps that explained it.

"Tell me what to do. I'm not sure how to make everyone believe in me, as you do. To make them see how important this... this calling is to help all here in Nottingham."

Herne paused and looked at Robin, blue eyes seeming to shift oddly from light to dark and back again. "Your heart will lead, Robin in the hood. You are not owner of those who follow, merely their leader. You must guide, not command."

Robin blinked and opened his mouth to question more but found he could not summon the right words. Frustrated, he frowned, instead.

"There are eyes within the forest. They search whom they might devour. Do not be deceived by what you perceive as innocence." Herne told him quietly, watching his chosen son and the expressions on his face. It was clear that he was not pleased by what was spoken. But, the boy would learn. Soon, he would be all that he was expected to be. Soon, he would become the leader his destiny decreed. Young though he might be, there was a wisdom about Robin already that was far beyond that which he had seen in the visions. The hand of fate was upon the boy. It would not misguide him. And, he would be there for the young lad, despite Robin's thought that he was alone. The legend had become flesh and stood now before him. Aye, Robin of Sherwood would be more than he thought he could be. It was written in the prophecies, had been seen in the visions.

Again, Robin frowned and shook his head slightly. "I don't understand. What innocence? Who watches?" He questioned, hand tightening on Albion's hilt.

Herne smiled faintly and laid a hand on Robin's shoulder. "A riddle for you, my son. When you understand the riddle, you will find the answer. Not all that is truth is visible. One must light a candle to see in the dark." He glanced skyward then back to Robin and took a step back. "The powers of Light and Darkness will be with you. Listen to your heart, Robin in the hood. Listen, and you will hear your answers."

Robin blinked and tried once again to find words to question, words which might somehow lure the answers he wanted from the spirit. But, before he could speak, the forest spirit had moved away and his last words echoed around Robin as the forest seemed to shimmer oddly, the figure of Herne fading to nonexistence in a fog that swiftly appeared then dissipated. Robin frowned deeply and shook his head. "More questions and no answers." He muttered, turning to head back toward the camp. As he walked, he pondered the words Herne had spoken. They seemed to echo in his head with the deep tones the spirit possessed. [There are eyes within the forest. They search whom they might devour. Do not be deceived by what you perceive as innocence.] That was a warning, clear enough, but who was watching them? Gisburne? No, if it'd been Gisburne, he'd have already stormed into the camp and attacked. The man had no patience, lucky for them. So who? And there was more. [When you understand the riddle, you will find the answer. Not all that is truth is visible. One must light a candle to see in the dark......Listen to your heart, Robin in the hood. Listen, and you will hear your answers.] That was true enough. The truth seemed to be forever hidden in the darkness that had descended upon Nottingham... and all of England. Light a candle? What sort of candle? Listening to his heart was something he'd tried not to do. He feared it would only lead them into more trouble, and a danger that would get them all killed. Still frowning, he paused just outside the circle of light cast by the fire and looked at each of his friends...and his beloved...in turn. So many were depending on him. And, he still had no answers how to get them all to accept one another, to trust one another. Somehow, he must overcome his own uncertainties and fix his attentions on plans. If they were to keep safe from Gisburne's men and whoever was watching them, they must keep on the alert. It was imparative for their survival.
 
     

Little John and Nasir returning

  The sun had already begun to hide itself as Nasir and Little John left the camp. By the time they reached the halfway point of the distance they were to travel the forest had become more shadow than light and both men inwardly realized the futility of continuing. Little John lay a hand on the Saracen's shoulder as a signal for him to stop.

"It'll be dark soon." He said as he looked up towards the graying sky.

Nasir frowned and then nodded in agreement.

"They won't do any more tonight.. if we leave at first light we can reach Wickham before they have their morning meal." The big man could only guess, but he imagined his words only confirmed what the other man was thinking, at least this way he could confirm or deny that.

Again Nasir nodded then looked back in the direction they had been heading.

"Let's go Nasir, if we hurry we might be able to get back before Tuck has eaten everything." John added the last with a smile as he clasped his hand on the Arab's shoulder.

Nasir returned the smile at the comment, then as the other released his shoulder began the trek back to the outlaw's camp.
 
     

Marion is cooling...

  Marion looked at the deer's blood on her hands, red and vital. She sat down crosslegged with her back to the group at the camp still looking at her hands. So red, almost human. She morbidly wished to know if this is what her hands would look like after a swordfight. Marion wondered if she could ever get her hands cleaned afterward. She rested her hands, stained palms facing the sky, on her knees and looked up into the forest. "If I were not so worried about Abbot Hugo and the Sheriff," Marion muttered to herself, "then I could rest. I will not be taken back to be sold to the highest bidder. They will have to try and kill me first." Marion could feel the warmth of the fire warming her back and she closed her eyes basking in its glow. The tension in her back and shoulders was melting away with the heat. Marion wanted to sit there forever... she sighed knowing that she must move soon to help with the dinner. Marion was reluctant to return due to her last outburst. When Robin came for her, she would return. Perhaps they would realize how much she had come to care for them all and that the thought of losing her new family was a hard thought to bear. Marion knew that she would be lost if Robin were killed. She would not be content to sit in the camp and wait for his return everytime he left to fight Gisburne or the Sheriff. She did not want to have the news of his death brought to her by some other person when she could have prevented it by being there. A single tear trailed down her cheek and she blinked her eyes open. Now, Marion knew that she was being silly and getting worried over nothing. Gisburne, Abbot Hugo, and Robert de Rainault would always be a problem until they found away of removing them from power. The question was how to do it. She mulled over these thoughts in her head for a while.  
     

Robin returns

  Robin's gaze centered on Marion for a long few moments. She looked so innocent sitting there. So vulnerable. Then again, they were all much too vulnerable for their own good. But, perhaps here they were safe... for the most part. Herne had led them here. So much he knew. Reminding himself that they were protected by the forest spirit, he took a slow breath and continued onward, stepping into the light cast by the fire. Smiling faintly at those who looked his way, he moved toward Marion and crouched at her side.

"You've done well, Marion. I'm sure that Tuck and the others appreciate your work. But... come... 'tis time to clean yourself up. And, if I remember rightly, I promised to speak with you... alone." He gave her a smile and helped her to her feet, motioning to Tuck and Much to finish the work on the deer and hoping that soon they'd be eating the venison for he was quite hungry. Taking her arm, he escorted Marion away from the group and into the forest, calling quietly to the others.

"We'll be back shortly. I believe m'lady needs to wash up before dinner."

The soft gurgling of a stream drew him toward it and he led Marion gently, wondering if they would argue of her insistence about wielding a sword. He had no intentions of letting her get that close to a fight and his heart ached thinking that she might be injured in any way. He had known the dangers of bringing her here, but for some reason it had not worried him overmuch at the time. Now, he realized the futility of trying to keep her safe but as he loved her so much, he could not help but try his best. Today's happenings only confirmed that they were in grave danger here and he'd brought her into this. He'd done so because he loved her, because he wanted her to be with him, but now he wondered where his mind had been. Lost in love, he thought silently, his expression grave as they picked their way through the forest toward where the stream gurgled quietly by. Releasing her elbow, he took a seat on a nearby fallen log and tried to prepare himself for the questions she would present him. Surely she was not pleased by his answer to her insistence of the blade. He'd seen the look in her pale eyes, the look that told him she was not in the least satisfied by what he had said. Didn't she realize that he would give his very life to keep her safe? Surely she did. Still, that didn't seem to ease her determination about the matter. With a soft sigh, he repositioned Albion at his narrow hip and glanced down at the hilt, a frown on his face. Perhaps he could convince her of the dangers and in so doing, also convince her to stay here in the camp, where she would be relatively safe. Perhaps. If he was fortunate.

Tuck nodded with understanding as Robin motioned for he and Much to finish the deer. There was not much left to do really, and so the friar spent several minutes finishing the preperation, and soon the beast was cooking on the fire, the smell of meat wafting away with the smoke. Tuck took a few steps back from the fire and looked up at the night's sky contemplatively.

"Did you know, Much, that many believe the future is written in the stars?" Tuck didn't believe this truly, it was clear to him that they were simply pin pricks in the curtain of night, possibly so his Lord could look down upon him easily. Sitting back down on his log, Tuck took his rosary beads and cross and fingered them idly as he watched the fire crackle and sputter underneath the roasting venison.
 
     

Will/End of the day in camp

  Will watched the scene between Robin and Marion from a distance. Gently the young man helped the fragile looking girl to her feet before leading her away into the forest to clean off the deer's blood off her hands. Maybe he'd pushed her too far... the sturdy outlaw shifted uncomfortably against the trunk he was leaning next to... he almost felt sorry for her. Well, who said life in the woods would be easy? She'd better learn her lessons fast if she was going to stay among them. Until then, at least she had Robin and the rest of the band to protect her. Yet he couldn't see her wielding a broad sword as she had requested... but then he couldn't see the boy, Much handling a sword either. Once again Will was wondering where this would lead him... fighting alongside a girl, a monk, a boy - and a Saracen. But - as even Will had to admit to himself - everything was better than being imprisoned in Nottingham's filthy dungeons waiting for his death sentence to be executed. Here in Sherwood he was a free man and could seek vengeance against those who had murdered his wife. Scarlett took a deep breath in, then pushed himself off the trunk and slowly walked back to Much and Tuck. His head pointed in the direction where Robin and Marion had vanished into the darkness of the night forest. "Someone's got to do the watch. I'll take it." His eyes were searching for his bow until he remembered he'd lost it during the villains' assault on the villagers. The next morning he'd have to start working on a new one... already heading towards the treeline Will turned his head. "I could use your help tomorrow, Much. I need a new bow."  
     
 

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