Hey – can I just start by saying a big thank-you to the kind reviews. I had been posting this somewhere else and finally plucked up the courage to send it here and nervously waited for feedback. I am totally honoured by the encouragement!
This is the final chapter of this story – but there is a sequel planned so I have deliberately left it hanging off a cliff – mean I know!!!!
The day had started in contrast to his mood, it was bright and sunny and the leafy green canopy of the trees took on its own light in this weather. But Robin of Locksley was not interested in his forest environment, he was at present scouring the streets and alleys of Nottingham, hoping to glean some information about Sir Marc de Leys. The man was a threat, one that he ignored at his peril. With Marc in Nottingham, Robin knew that he would not stop until he had satisfaction for his dead disgraced father. And Robin would be the one to pay that price.
He was alone, and it had annoyed Much no end.
"Right, don't come running to me to get rescued when you are caught and hanged will you" was still ringing in his ears as he left the sanctuary of their forest home. No he was better off alone today. The gang needed to regroup for a day or so. Will was still recovering, Djaq needed time, John needed to be with them, and he, Robin, needed time without Much – just for a few hours.
He stiffened slightly when he saw her, recognising her silhouette immediately. He could not believe his luck. She nodded to him and gestured towards an alleyway. She was alone! Better and better!
"How are Will and Djaq?" Marian spoke first, anxious for news.
"They'll be fine. Will is recovering, Djaq is clucking" they both smiled at that, empathising with the fact that the pair did not admit to their true feelings for each other but it was there on display for all to see.
"The man that you took with you was……"
"Gisbourne's man yes – its dealt with. Don't worry you are safe." He reassured her and she nodded in return.
She then looked round.
"I haven't got long, my "escort" will catch up with me soon I am sure. You need to know that De Leys and Gisbourne are in competition with each other to catch you first. No don't laugh – its serious. They mean business Robin."
"They don't scare me Marian" and Robin Hood did indeed find this to be quite amusing!
She looked at him coolly.
"Well they should. De Leys in particular knows how to get to you – through your men, he proved that with Will and Djaq."
Robin sobered at that thought – she was right.
Marian considered for a second, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"I don't remember him. Were you close?"
Robin nodded, still aware of the old wounds that smarted when he thought of his old friend, turned enemy.
"Yes, when we were young. Then they went away just as you arrived at Knighton. We didn't know that our father's had fallen foul of each other" he smirked "at least I didn't. When we got the chance to meet up again years later my hand of friendship was slapped away. It was only later when Father died that I found out what happened between him and Marc's father"
"What did happen?"
He looked at her beautiful sympathetic face and smiled longingly at her. He wanted to tell her – but there wasn't the time.
"Long story" he said. "I'll tell you about it one day. Suffice to say that there is no chance of redeeming our old friendship."
They both glanced over towards her approaching guard who had not spotted her yet.
"Listen!" she said. "The Sheriff has a demonstration of black powder later."
Now this was a concern. What if they had been successful in manufacturing the lethal chemical after all?
"At the old iron ore mine."
She squeezed his hand and they shared a brief look before she turned towards her escorting guards.
"I expect you shall see me there!" she stated as she left him.
Iron Ore Mine
The Sheriff of Nottingham and his entourage were waiting impatiently as the demonstration was set up. The nervous alchemist had placed the powder still in the bowl that he had stored it in. He realised he had no idea how much to use in order to create a significant blast, so had opted to use it all. After all if it was successful, he would be heaped with praise and would have riches beyond his dreams, so he did not want to take any chances of it failing due to lack of power.
He had surprised himself when the black residue had emulsified out of the solutions he had mixed. He had even begun to doubt his own belief that the time given for the final reaction was too long. But lo and behold, here it was just as he had predicted despite the protests of the savage woman he was forced to talk to.
He had not considered that the time for the completion for the chemical reaction was to allow equilibrium to take place and reduce the potency of the explosive, so that it could be used in a controlled fashion. And that therefore what he had produced would exceed all expectations. Especially his own.
No-one was more surprised than him when he set the powder alight and stepped away, assuming that he had several seconds to get behind the shield that protected the watching noble folk. The last thought that went through his mind as the blast hit him was that he was literally a victim of his own success.
Four pairs of eyes looked in silence at the charred body of the alchemist. Marian shook her head in disbelief and horror at the sight.
Then Sheriff Vaysay cackled in delight. Yes they had done it! They had black powder again. No one could stand up to them now. He jumped up and down with glee.
"My Lord" coughed Gisbourne. "the alchemist is dead" he did not see the funny side.
"So – we'll get another. I need a new ink well anyway." And he continued with his dance.
"Hood took the notes last night, and that is all the powder that we had"
The Sheriff stopped dancing. "What? Are you telling me that I had black powder in my grasp only to have it whipped away again?" he screamed looking like he was ready to burst a blood vessel.
"Get me that Saracen. I want her in my castle and I want the formula! I don't care who you have to main and kill, I will have black powder is that understood?!!"
He delivered this to both of the knights who stood impassively side by side, then both bowed towards the Sheriff before turning to each other sizing each other up.
Marian silently watched the scene unfold in front of her and feared for the safety of Djaq and the gang of men she knew were watching nearby. Of them all, only she felt pity and loss for the poor alchemist, whose name she didn't even know.
In the safety of the trees five people watched in horror. Everything Robin had feared had come true in that one instant. Djaq had followed the ledger to the letter and had not fully understood why time had to be given for each reaction between the chemicals. Now she appreciated the consequences and understood that progress, such as it was, always came at a price.
Will was there beside her and put hid hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her.
The others turned and stared at her stricken features.
She knew that the price could be her own life.
To be continued………..
Now follows shameless plug for sequel – "The Bigger They Are"…..yet to be devised but I need to get Lardener's Legacy out of my head first (yes another shameless plug I know!!!!).
So Guy and De leys are in competition to get at Robin and each plays dirtier and nastier tricks.
Djaq is the pawn as she is used to get black powder. How do they force her to make it? Will Allan save her?
De Leys and Robin have a show down and we get to hear more about De Leys story.
De Leys finds out about Marian and Robin's history and seizes an opportunity to get at both Robin and Gisbourne. Now there's a triangle (of sorts).
Plenty of action, angst and drama promised……….honest!!!