Disclaimer: I don't own Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, the Black Arrow, or anybody else you recognise. The plot is mine, and that's it.
Feedback: Is Skinner slightly annoying? Of COURSE I want some!
AN: This story is set in 1196, so DON'T go looking for the League we know; they won't be involved in the action at all.
The Fellowship of Extraordinary Men
The evening was a quiet one. The field was peaceful, with no human habitation anywhere within view. There weren't even many insects in this part of the world, although nobody really knew the reason for this.
The only sign of life was a lone figure on a horse, clad in a simple metal helmet, sturdy chain mail and dark trousers. He had a shield on his back and a sword hung from his waist, although he didn't look like he'd be ready to use either of these things any time soon; the way he was partly slumped into the saddle suggested that he was half-asleep as he rode through the field.
Just then, the horse gave a small whinny, as though something had startled it. Blinking his eyes open under his helmet, the knight patted the horse reassuringly on the side of the neck.
"Easy, girl, easy..." he mumbled, trying to focus on forming a coherent sentence. "What's wrong with you? There's nothing to be scared of..."
Then he sensed it.
Something was happening. What it was, he couldn't be sure, but it seemed as though the air was...
Right in front of the knight's eyes, the air was shimmering like a reflection in a pool of water. Not only that, but as the shimmer faded from the air, something else was left in its place.
It was a tower, several hundred feet in height, with several narrow slits positioned on it in various places. There was a large door that looked like it was large enough to let at least three men on horseback leave the tower at once, and the upper part of the castle was covered with several smaller towers, each one with very sturdy-looking battlements on them.
Several mysterious robed creatures covered the battlements, each one a little bit taller than a man and wearing long dark robes. The knight couldn't see their faces, but he could just about see something red shining out from under their hoods.
Eyes? he asked himself, as he tensed himself to turn his horse around. This isn't good...
He was certain of one thing only; he didn't like the looks of this. He wasn't very keen on even the idea of magic- he preferred a danger that he actually had a chance of stopping with his sword and other weapons. The tales of magicians and witches were all well and good, but there was a great difference between hearing tales about people fighting them and actually fighting them.
Nervously, he turned his horse around, trying to keep quiet as he tugged on the reins. The horse seemed to be as scared as he was, given that it was also trying to keep quiet; at least, that's how it seemed to him.
Then again, it could just be dumb coincidence...
A loud crack came from the horse's feet, as it crushed a fairly large stick under its hooves.
Instantly, the hooded creatures looked down towards the knight. A low hiss of anger was heard, and then four of the creatures had leapt off some of the lower turrets and were charging towards the knight.
As soon as the creatures had landed, the knight had turned his horse around and was charging away as fast as he could. He didn't know what these things were, but he knew that he didn't want to find out unless he had to. He had to get to the nearest village or castle as fast as he could, and hope that the creatures could be beaten back by sheer weight of numbers, if nothing else.
"Come on, come on..." he whispered to the horse, as he dug his heels into its sides, trying to encourage to pick up speed. But even as he rode forward, and even as his horse's hooves pounded on the ground with more and more force, he still heard the creatures as they ran after him...
And they were catching up.
Despite a gut instinct that it might not be the smartest thing to do, the knight looked back. The creatures were catching up with him, shrugging their robes off as they started to stumble from all the cloth. In the dark, it was hard for the knight to see the things clearly, but he could see a couple of details that definitely weren't human. A tentacle here, a claw there, scales somewhere else...
Then something caught his horse on the leg.
As the faithful animal fell, the knight, although his mind was still hazy from a lack of sleep any time recently, leapt from his horse, drawing his sword and pulling his shield off his back as he turned to face the creatures.
He probably didn't have a chance against these things; he wouldn't fool himself by thinking otherwise. However, he wouldn't allow himself to go down without a fight.
"Bring it on," he whispered, as the creatures came towards him at full speed.
As the first one charged towards him- a creature that looked like a man baring the fact that it seemed to have a squid on its head and was purple in colour- the knight swung his sword, and one of the tentacles on the creature's head fell to the ground, twitching as it did so. A second slash, and a large cut adorned the thing's chest, before the knight kicked it back.
As soon as the first creature fell, a second one took its place. This creature looked mostly human, but had claws and a mane that resembled a lion's. Its face also looked slightly catlike, although the eyes gleamed with a fierce intelligence.
The knight's first blow was parried by the lion-man, who knocked the sword back with its... paw, for lack of a better term... and then slashed at him, with a blow that he barely managed to knock aside with his shield. In the same movement, he hit the creature in the side of the head with his shield, and used its brief moment of confusion to slice off its head.
The knight fought well in that struggle. The odds were unlike anything he had ever encountered in his life, and the foes unlike anything he had known or heard of. Still, several of these hell-spawned monsters fell before his sword that night, and many more would bare the scars he gave them for some while afterwards.
But, in the end, he fell.
From the top of the tower, a cloaked figure watched the scene below it with a dispassionate stare. It didn't even acknowledge the knight's bravery in standing against such overwhelming odds; after all, the man had made a very stupid decision in trying to fight them, no matter how brave it was.
Underneath the hood that totally concealed the figure's head, a smile flickered on its lips.
Soon, the demons the figure commanded would attack the world.
And nothing could stand in her way...