Marian was the first to notice their return. "Is your watch up already? Give me just a moment to wake Robin and we will go out and take your places."
Much looked at her with sad eyes, "Marian, go wake the others."
She looked from John to Much, and then to the object they were carrying. She swallowed hard and nodded before running inside. "Robin, quick get up!"
He jumped up with his heart racing and grabbed his sword in one hand and his bow and quiver with the other, "Marian, what is it?"
"John and Much have returned," she turned to Djaq and Will, "wake up you two," she said as she shook their shoulders.
Robin placed his hands on her shoulders to calm her down, "Marian is there any threat?"
"No, we just need to go outside."
Djaq and Will just stared at Marian confused.
"Okay, Marian, we will go outside." Robin was not sure what to expect.
Djaq was the first to realize that there was a body lying in front of John and Much's feet. "Alan," she gasped as she ran to him and checked for a pulse.
John looked down at the small woman, "he's gone."
"The men that brought him to us said that Guisborne was responsible," Much said as he looked over at Robin.
Robin's jaw clinched and his eyes grew dark. Guisborne was done hurting his family. "You all stay," he started to storm off.
Will grabbed his arm, "Robin, no. It is not what he would have wanted."
"Will, let go of my arm. That man... there is no good in him. There is nothing worth saving," Robin yelled.
Will tightened his grip, "no one loved him as much as I did. He was my brother. He was my best friend," tears began to fall down his cheeks. "If I can tolerate this, so can you. You taught us all to be better people. That is why we follow you. That is why the people love you. You cannot do this."
The look on Robin's face softened and he hugged the other man. He felt responsible for everything that had happened. Maybe he should have let the others keep some of the wealth. Then Alan would not have been tempted. Maybe he could have given Alan a second chance. Or maybe he could have just killed Guisborne when he discovered the bastard was a traitor who tried to kill the King. He should have shot him down that day outside of the cave. Guisborne nearly killed Marian. And now he thought of the man in his arms. Will had just lost his brother, and he needed Robin to be a strong leader, not a crazed killer.
Djaq stepped up and tapped Robin on the shoulder. He silently moved out of the way so she could hold Will as he cried.
Robin looked at the others and slowly stepped towards Alan. He knelt down beside him and whispered to his old comrade, "I failed you, and for that I am sorry." He looked up as Marian placed her hand on his shoulder. I will not fail the rest of you.
The next day the roads through Sherwood Forest were safe to all passengers. The small group carried their fallen friend to a secluded part of the woods. The small dell was surrounded by trees and had a bright, clear, blue brook cutting through it. They buried him next to a large oak. Robin helped Will make the grave marker. It was made out of a light wood and had his name as well the symbol for Robin Hood's gang on it, that was Robin's idea. They all wept for their loss.
It took Alan a Dale dying for everyone to forgive him. It took losing a friend forever for everyone to realize how much they loved him.
I wanted to thank everyone for their reviews. They were very encouraging. This was my first story and I was very nervous. I hope everyone liked the ending.