This is my second story, the first being "It's a Matter of Trust." If you haven't read that one, you probably should before you read this one. Seeing as series two is still running, there are bound to be discrepancies between the events in the show and the events in my stories. Just a warning. At any rate, I hope you enjoy!
"Why have we stopped, imbecile?" the nobleman asked, leaning his head out of his carriage. The driver turned back to face him.
"There's a girl in the road, sir," he explained. The noble rolled his eyes.
"Did you tell her to get out of the way?" he asked impatiently.
"I can't, sir. She's unconscious." The nobleman was amazed at the simplicity of his driver.
"Then run her over," he instructed, as if running someone over with one's carriage was perfectly acceptable behavior. The driver made a movement to drive forward, but he quickly turned about again.
"I can't, sir." The nobleman sighed.
"Why not?" he asked, getting angry.
"She's pointing an arrow at my head," the driver replied, almost sadly. The nobleman exited his carriage, stepping about so as to see this woman. She had stick-straight, raven-colored hair, kept back by a leather headband. Her green eyes flitted between the driver and the nobleman almost playfully. There was the bit where she was pointing an arrow at his driver's head, but the nobleman hardly thought that she was of any concern.
"Her? You're scared that she is going to shoot you? That little scrap?" The nobleman asked.
"Oy! I can hear you!" the girl spoke up. "By the way, your gold, your silver, your jewels, please." The nobleman laughed, which was probably a mistake.
"Please. You point an arrow at my driver, and all of a sudden you're Robin Hood? Is that how it works?" The nobleman asked, laughing. The girl shook her head.
"No. He's Robin Hood," she spared a second to point with her bow and arrow before returning its aim to the driver, "and we'll have your silver, your gold, and your jewels. That's how it works. And I thought nobles were supposed to be smart."
The nobleman blanched, slowly turning to face the direction in which the girl had pointed. He was surprised to find that he was surrounded. The skinny man that the girl had pointed out had an arrow pointed at him, grinning widely as the rest of the gang moved in.
"You heard the girl. Gold, silver, jewels," Robin ordered. The nobleman gulped and moved to his carriage, opening the rather obvious trunk. It was full to the top with coins. With months of experience under their belts, the outlaws made quick work of it, stashing the coins into smaller bags, ready to hand them out to the poor of Nottinghamshire.
They were about to leave the nobleman, but when the rest of the group started to walk away, Will stayed behind. Djaq gave him a light push.
"Will, we're going." He held up a hand, stepping towards the wagon.
"The wood is different," he muttered, squatting by the carriage, tapping on the side. The rest of the gang had stopped by now, turning back to see what was going on. Will tapped at the panel some more, pulling his axe from his belt, taking precise swings at the panel, ignoring the nobleman's protests. The panel broke easily, revealing a compartment, filled with swords and armor.
"Morgan, I think he's your replacement!" Djaq called, beckoning Morgan over. She knocked the driver out, making sure he wouldn't try to get away without her pointing an arrow at his head, and climbed onto the top of the carriage. She dangled her legs over the side, watching as Will and Djaq removed swords from the compartment. Morgan wrinkled her nose, taking one of the swords, inspecting it.
"Some replacement," she commented, holding the sword at arms length, "Shoddy quality, this. Not being funny, but you're really rotten at this." The "nobleman" looked affronted.
"I'll have you know that I was specially requested by the Sheriff of Nottingham!" he defended himself, drawing himself up. "This is my finest work."
"Have you ever considered taking up weaving?" Morgan asked, her expression completely serious.
"Young lady, I was specifically requested by the Sheriff," the other repeated, "He needs new weapons for him men before the fair." The gang exchanged glances.
"Yeah, you know all the dangers at the fair. Small children, happy peasants. Very dangerous," Djaq nudged Will, who smiled at her joke.
"The guards are to protect the big prize. The Sheriff's holding some sort of contest, so I brought my finest work, so that the guards can do their job," the castle's new black still managed to sound arrogant, despite the fact that Morgan was staring at him, muttering things like, "no-talent hack" and "me gran could do better." Suppressing a laugh, Robin called to his gang.
"Let him go." There was a general look of disbelief among the members of the gang, except for Much, who knew Robin's facial expressions well enough to tell that he was up to something.
Much had grown to dislike the look that currently adorned Robin's face. Surely, it mean that he'd come up with a plan, but it also entailed that whatever he'd come up with was reckless and most likely insane. Much found that he could often figure out what Robin was planning, but he also found that he often disliked it.
The castle's new blacksmith didn't take the opportunity to leave for granted, waking his driver up and pulling away, barely giving Morgan time to hop off of the top of the carriage.
"Loony, that one," she grumbled, watching as the cart sped off.
"Robin, why did we let him go?" Little John asked, asking the question of everyone's mind. Robin's grin widened, but he said nothing, looking at Much in a knowing way before starting back to the camp. Much frowned, starting to connect things.
"Master, surely not!" he called following. Morgan frowned.
"What just happened?" she asked. Djaq and Will exchanged glances, knowing perfectly well what was going to happen, walking after Much. Morgan went to Little John.
"John? Did I miss something?" Little John laughed, clapping a hand on Morgan's shoulder before following Djaq and Will. Morgan looked around the now empty clearing, tilting her head to the side.
"Oy! What's going on? Guys?" she called after the gang, jogging to catch up.
"And you're sure that they thought you were a blacksmith?" the Sheriff asked, though he was more interested in eating the plum in his hand then listening to the man in front of him.
"Yes, my lord. They found the hidden panel, just as you said they would. I was sure to mention the fair, just as you asked, sir," the man stuttered, taking off his hat, wringing the brim in his hands. The Sheriff nodded, though he hadn't really heard a word of what the man was saying. He didn't have to listen to people, that's what he had Gisborne for.
"Gisborne, pay the man," he instructed, not bothering to hide his boredom. His plan was simple enough. Draw the outlaws into the fair, have some inane contest with a large prize. They were sure to show there faces. If that didn't work, he could always have a hanging. That always seemed to attract Hood. Gisborne's new little friend, Alex, or whatever his name was, had been kind enough to tell him all of the outlaw's entrances.
Of course, he wouldn't put guards on them, not until he had confirmation that the outlaws were actually in the city. Easier to get in than out, he figured. He looked ahead, surprised to see the grubby, little peasant was still standing there.
"Gisborne, why is the grubby, little peasant still here?" he asked. Gisborne didn't reply. The Sheriff looked to his right. Gisborne wasn't even in the room.
"Oh," he shrugged. He signaled to the guard by the door. "Where's Gisborne?"
"He's out making sure that everyone knows about that announcement you told him to make, my lord," the guard explained.
"Oh," the Sheriff said. "Very well then. Throw this man in the dungeon." The grubby, little peasant looked surprised.
"My lord?" he asked, confusion in his voice.
"I don't like your hat," the Sheriff explained. "Take him away." He smiled as the grubby, little peasant burst into tears. He took a bite of his plum. Today was going to be a good day.
"Alright, we'll go in through the west gate. Djaq, Will, you'll find out about this "big" contest. John, Much, and I will get the layout for the fair, just in case things go south," Robin said calmly.
"Master, there is surely a trap," Much interrupted. Robin nodded.
"Yes, the contest is surely a trap," Robin agreed with a nod, though the smirk hadn't left his face. "Which is why we're going to find the prize and steal it before the contest even starts." Morgan, who was chewing thoughtfully at an apple, swallowed and spoke.
"Robin, what about me? Am I with Djaq and Will?" she asked, taking another chunk of the apple off with a knife, popping it into her mouth. Robin shook his head.
"You can't go back to the castle yet. All of the guards know who you are. They'll be looking for you. I need you to do something else," he explained. Morgan was intrigued.
"Aye, what is it, then?" she asked.
"I need you to get information. About a man named Roger of Stoke," he said, his voice suddenly serious. "This is important, Morgan. I need to know if he made it out of Nottinghamshire or not." Morgan nodded, swallowing again.
"Right. I know just who to talk to about it. I'll be back soon," she announced, putting her knife away, dashing into the woods.
They made it in without a problem, which honestly caught Robin off guard. He was sure that Allan would've told Gisborne about all of their entrances by now. The group scattered, blending in with the crowd.
"Robin, something isn't right," John growled under his breath. Robin nodded. There was a level of rigidity to the atmosphere that was simply eerie. There were games set up, but no one was playing. There were entertainers about, but they weren't entertaining.
There was definitely a fair, Robin knew that. He'd been hearing about it for few weeks now, every time they had gone into town. There was a sinking feeling in his stomach. How had he not seen it? Robin sighed, disappointed with himself. Of all the things to fall for!
"John, find Djaq and Will. We've got to get out of here. Now." John nodded, moving through the crowd with relative ease. Much looked back at Robin.
"The contest was not the trap?" Much asked. Robin shook his head.
"The whole fair is the trap?" Much guessed. Robin nodded.
"And that man was not a blacksmith," Much pointed out. Robin shook his head.
"Well, of all the nerve. Pretending to be a noble, when you are in fact a blacksmith is one thing, but pretending to be a blacksmith pretending to be a noble is just wrong," Much decided, nodding as if the action validated his statement. Robin scanned the crowd, hoping that John would find the others and get back. If Robin had figured everything correctly, it was only a matter of time before…
"People of Nottingham! Thank you for participating in the big contest!" The Sheriff's voice boomed from the courtyard. "In recognition of your efforts, I, Vasey, Sheriff of Nottingham, declare that you all win the big prize! None of you will hang today! Now, onto business! Robin! I know you can hear me, Hood! My guards will be searching for you! In the meantime, have fun trying to get out of the city!" Robin sighed, pulling his cloak tighter around him.
"Well," Much mumbled, "You have to admit. It was clever, having the whole of Nottingham pretend there was going to be a fair." Robin shot Much a glare.
"Well, being mad at me won't help. I don't suppose you have a plan to get us out of here?" Another glare. Much nodded. "Right. So we're trapped in Nottingham, the guards are closing in, and the only member of our gang that isn't in here with us has skipped off to God-only-knows where." Robin glared once more. Much sighed.