His eyes fluttered open, and he smiled, stretching out across the soft mattress. Slowly sitting up, he yawned and took in his surroundings. He decided that it was a very nice room. He slowly got out of the bed, taking in the clothes that were set out on the chair next to it. He tilted his head to the side.
They were very nice clothes. He furrowed his brow. Were they his? Come to think of it, was the room his? The door swung open, and a servant girl stepped in, giggling and looking away as she took in the sight of him. He glanced down, realizing that he was in his underwear. He quickly grabbed the sheet from the bed, holding it in front of him.
"Sorry, Master. I just came to see if you were awake," she apologized, dipping her head in a curtsey. He stared at the girl, unsure of what she was talking about.
"Beg pardon?" he asked, glancing around to see if there was anyone else in the room that she could've been talking to. The servant girl blinked in confusion, then her hand shot to her mouth.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Master. The physician said that you would have trouble remembering," she reminded herself. He stared at her.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I don't understand," he admitted.
"Get dressed, Master, and I'll show you around."
The clothes fit him like a glove, so they were definitely his. He stepped out of the bedroom, finding the servant girl outside the door. She led him down the stairs, pointing out rooms as they passed them, labeling them. They stepped outside of the manor, turning to face it.
"This is Locksley Manor," she pointed at the large house. She took him by the shoulders, turning him about to face the small village. "And this is Locksley." The villagers seemed busy, carrying water, tending to the small gardens by their cottages. There was something oddly familiar about the scene before him, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
"I live here?" he asked. The servant girl smiled.
"You are the lord of this manor, Master," she reminded.
"Lord?" he asked, confused. He would've thought that he'd remember something like that, but, at present, he was having trouble remembering anything at all.
"Ah, here's Sir Guy and Allan. They can explain everything to you, Master," the girl excused herself, pointing out the two men approaching on horseback. They dismounted and approached him, and he couldn't help but think that he knew them from somewhere, but he couldn't quite think of where.
"Ah, Locksley! Good to see you up and about again," the taller man called. "I thought for sure that you would never wake up." The shorter of the two remained silent, the look on his face voicing his discomfort.
"Do I know you?" he asked, trying to figure out what was happening. The taller man grinned, clapping him on the shoulder.
"Let's go inside. I can explain everything."
"You were heading back from London. Your carriage was attacked by outlaws. They beat you within an inch of your life. When we found you, you didn't remember anything," The taller man, who'd introduced himself as Guy, recalled.
"I still don't remember anything," he pointed out. The shorter of the two men, Allan, suddenly stood, muttering an excuse as he walked out of the room. Guy watched him go, shaking his head.
"Don't worry, my friend. I'm here to help," he reassured, turning back to him.
"Are we friends, then?" he asked, trying not to offend the leather clad man.
"Best friends," Guy confirmed. "Now, come on. We're going to Nottingham. The Sheriff will be glad to hear that you are well again."
"I'd hardly say that I am well. I don't even remember my name!" he sputtered.
"The physician warned us that you might lose your memory. The Sheriff is aware," Guy promised, standing and walking to the door. He paused at the threshold, glancing over his shoulder. "By the way, your name is Robin."
"So, this is Nottingham?" Robin asked as they approached. Beside him, Allan shifted uncomfortably in his saddle.
"You really don't remember anything?" he asked. Robin shook his head, wondering why this Allan fellow seemed so uncomfortable around him.
"Nothing at all," he confirmed. Allan looked straight ahead, not saying another word. Robin frowned. Had he offended Allan? He hoped not; he seemed like a nice guy. They rode under the portcullis, and a beggar hobbled over to them, holding out a small cup, asking for money. The beggar was wearing a cloak, but Robin guessed she was blind, the way that she stumbled.
"Alms for the blind?" she asked in a croaky sort of voice.
"I'll take care of it," Allan muttered, sliding off of his horse and taking the beggar by the arm, leading her out of the castle and into the crowded market place. Robin watched Allan go, marveling at how kind the man was to escort the beggar. He was pulled from his thoughts by Guy.
"Robin, let's go," he called. "The Sheriff is expecting us."
Allan led the beggar into the marketplace, pulling her into an alleyway.
"Do I need to point out how risky that was?" he asked. The "beggar" pulled back her hood, revealing long, raven hair, dark green eyes, and soft lips curved in a smile.
"Relax, Allan. You're starting to sound like Much," she joked, quickly standing on tiptoes and kissing him on the lips. She lingered there for a moment, drinking in the heat of their proximity. Despite being married, they hadn't seen each other in over a week. Locksley was no longer a safe place for their nighttime rendevous, and Robin's capture had kept Allan busy. Just as quickly as she'd snuck the sign of affection, her mood became suddenly serious. "How is he?"
"Bad," Allan replied quickly, running a hand through his hair. "Can't remember anything. Not being funny, but he actually believed Guy's sad excuse for a story."
"Which was?" Morgan asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.
"That they're best friends, and Robin was attacked by outlaws," Allan muttered lamely. Morgan held up a hand.
"You had me at 'they're best friends,'" she shook her head. "You better get back in there. I'll get word to the gang. Whatever we do, we have to move quickly. I have a bad feeling about this."
"That makes two of us," Allan grumbled. "If anything comes up, I'll send word with Renton."
They exchanged another quick kiss, and Allan watched her pull her hood back up and practically melt into the shadows. Allan didn't know which was more odd, the fact that she had disappeared with such ease, or the fact that he found her new skill extremely attractive.
"Ah, Locksley! Took you long enough to come around," the Sheriff commented, sitting forward in his chair. Robin smiled at the joking tone in the Sheriff's voice.
"You're the Sheriff?" he asked, looking to Guy, who nodded. "I am terribly sorry, sir. I really can't remember anything." He could've sworn that he saw a smile flitting across the Sheriff's face, but he dismissed the thought as ridiculous. Why would the man smile about his loss of memory?
"There will be a feast tonight in honor of your recovery, Locksley. I expect you to attend. In the meantime, Gisborne, I want you to reacquaint Robin with the castle."
"Yes, my lord," Gisborne replied with the air of a child being nagged by his mother. Robin followed the tall, leather-clad man out of the Great Hall, waving pleasantly over his shoulder at the Sheriff before ducking out of the room.
"Allan, this could not be more perfect," The Sheriff commented. Allan nodded, though he was barely paying any attention to the balding man. Still, the Sheriff continued, explaining himself. "Robin Hood, hero of the people, can't even remember who he is! Someday, you're going to have to tell me how you think of all of these wonderful plans." Allan smiled wanly, feeling that it would be unwise to say that he'd only suggested his plan to keep Robin alive.
Even armed with that bit of knowledge, Allan couldn't help but feel disgusted with himself. The plan he'd come up with was nothing short of conniving, and the mere fact that he'd thought it up worried him. True, it wasn't his fault that Robin had gotten caught in the first place. They'd been trying to rob the castle again, and Robin had been hit while he stalled for the others to escape.
When the Sheriff had found out that Robin had lost his memory, he had wanted to hang him. After all, he couldn't torture Hood for information that he couldn't remember. Panicking, Allan had thrown together a plan, which he immediately relayed to the Sheriff.
They would return Robin to Locksley, act as if he'd never become an outlaw. Robin would believe that he was doing what was right, giving the Sheriff his support on the council of nobles, and the villagers, seeing that Robin had returned to a life of nobility, would think that he'd abandoned them.
The Sheriff was still delighting in the underhandedness of the plan. Allan, however, had decided that he'd been spending too much time with the sadistic psychopath. He was grateful when Marian entered the room, asking for him.
"Guy doesn't want me to go to market without an escort. He said that you'd go with me," she explained to Allan. Allan tried not to look too eager, shrugging nonchalantly at the Sheriff before following Marian out of the castle.
"Who is she?" Robin asked, peering down from the battlements. Guy followed his point, spotting Marian and Allan heading to the market.
"That's Marian," Guy smirked affectionately, a fact that Robin didn't miss.
"Your wife?" he asked. Guy barely managed to maintain his casual demeanor, though he could've easily been described as a mix of thunderstruck and delighted.
"Working on it," he finally replied, surprised to see Robin nod with approval. "You don't think she's pretty?" Robin shrugged at the question.
"She's alright. Doesn't look like my type," he answered bluntly, scratching at the back of his ear. Guy waited until Robin looked away before looking skyward, thanking the powers that be for that particular stroke of luck. Robin really was out of it.
"There's the feast tonight, which means there will be alcohol," Allan started, plotting out the next stage of his plan while Marian pretended to shop. "Smug as the Sheriff is being, I'm sure everyone will be proper drunk by the time it's all over."
"So, they'll take him when he leaves for Locksley," Marian concluded. Allan nodded.
"That is the plan," he muttered. "In the meantime, try to talk to him. Maybe he'll remember something if he talks to you." Marian smiled at the implications of Allan's statement, folding the fabric she was looking at and handing it to the vendor to wrap up for her.
"I'll try, but he's well guarded," she pointed out, the smile on her lips falling slightly. "At any rate, I'm not supposed to be involved with him, remember?" Seeing that it was not the response that Allan needed to her, she changed the subject.
"How are things going with your marriage?" she asked innocently, avoiding mentioning name to be safe.
"Difficultly," Allan answered flatly. "Not being funny, but it's hard when I barely get to see her. This whole business with Robin isn't helping, either." Marian shot in a quick look, and he found it necessary to expound.
"I'm not saying that it's his fault. I'm just pointing out that with us all focusing on how to get him out of here, it's difficult to concentrate on anything else," he clarified. Marian seemed satisfied, paying for the cloth and heading to a different booth. Allan followed her, glancing back at the castle.
They had to get Robin out of there. Allan himself was influenced enough by the man, and he was fully cognizant of his surroundings. He shuddered to think what influence the Sheriff would have on Robin, especially in his condition.
"You're a good man, Allan," Marian suddenly said. Allan turned back to her, a little confused. He had, after all, suggested his insane plan and gotten Robin caught up in this whole mess.
"Why?" he asked. Marian grinned.
"You're going out of your way to help Robin. You don't have to do that," she explained. "The gang could've come up with a way to save him."
"Yeah, well," Allan muttered sheepishly. "Whatever I can do to help."
Renton whistled as he walked through the largely empty streets, heading out of Nottingham at a brisk pace. He lived in Clun, which was quite a distance away, especially when he considered that he didn't have a horse. He ignored the minor inconvenience, keeping the steady pace as he went. He stuck to the main path, glad that the moon was full.
He shook his head, thinking of Leah, his beautiful, abundantly pregnant wife, and Adam and Jill, his children. Suddenly, the night wasn't so dark, and Clun wasn't so far away. He pushed forward, the voice from before pushed from his mind as he whistled. The joy of the thought of returning to his family manifested as a smile, then as a spring in his step, then the whistle turned into a hum before escalating to full-blown song.
"Let it now be taught
If a man is as he ought
The beer will sing:
Wonderful thing!" He'd heard someone singing the song when he and Allan had gone for lunch at the Greenbriar Tavern, and it had been stuck in his head ever since. To his surprise, a woman's voice joined him, ringing clear as a bell through the night air.
"Drink, if there's beer in your jar -
It's far to the sun from the stars
Drink it well, drink it deep.
Out of the barrel flows the beer
Always clear!" Morgan laughed from her spot in the tree, swinging down from the branches, landing beside Renton.
"Morgan, nice to see you," he greeted with a grin.
"You, too, Rent," she returned. "Any word from Allan?" Renton nodded.
"He wanted me to tell you that the feast will run late, but you lot shouldn't have trouble grabbing him on the way back to Locksley," he reported. Morgan grinned, hugging Renton quickly.
"Precisely what we want to hear," she said on behalf of the gang. "Did he say anything else?" Renton coughed, reaching into his pocket and handed a piece of folded parchment to her.
"Didn't think it would be appropriate for me to read it," he muttered. Morgan took the note, looking it over. The writing was tidy and had a feminine curve to it.
"I believe that he got Lady Marian to help him," Renton mentioned casually. Morgan smiled, tucking the note into her breastpocket.
"Thanks again, Rent. Now, rabbit off. I'm sure Jill misses you." Nodding, grinning at the thought of his wife, Renton restarted his journey to Clun, waving as Morgan went to alert the rest of the gang.
So, there's chapter one! The wisdom teeth removal went much more smoothly than I anticipated, so I'm posting a bit early.
This wasn't really supposed to be my next story, but I figured that it would fit a lot better if I posted it before the story that I'm writing as a sort of series finale for the Morgan Stories.
So, yes. I hope you all enjoy! Please review!