Alright, folks! This is basically the end of this "season" of the Morgan Stories, my response to the finale, and a healthy dose of angst and character death, not necessarily in that order.
In this first chapter, I did something that I don't like to do. I basically hijacked scenes from episode 12 and changed them by adding Morgan in. Please, bear with me. With any luck, I'll never have to do this again.
I hope you all enjoy it!
She sat and waited, looking out the window of the small cottage. She wanted desperately to hear some news from Nottingham. News that Robin Hood and his gang had all returned safely. News that the mercenaries had been driven out. News of Hollis. News of Morgan. She wanted to know that they were safe, but Elene Weaver had yet to hear from them. A part of her was scared to hear. She didn't know if her heart could take the loss of another child. Still, her worrying granted her no answers, so she sat and waited. Slowly, the door creaked open. Elene didn't see the messenger, only the lifeless body that tore at her soul.
---Six Months Earlier---
Morgan was running late. She knew that the gang would expect it; she'd never claimed to be a punctual person, but this was exceptional, even for her. Much would've already led them to the barn. They would have already given Robin his present. They would have already started the party.
"Better late than never," she sighed as she quickened her pace. Maybe she wasn't late at all. Maybe they'd been delayed on their way to Nettlestone. The barn came into view, and she sped up, eager to reach her destination. Later on, she would wonder how she missed the massive clump of mercenaries marching towards the barn. Presently, they drew her attention by firing several arrows at her. Morgan didn't have time to think; she merely reacted. The side of the barn was wrought with imperfections, gaps in the wood siding that made it relatively easy to climb. The fact that she was being shot at proved to be an effective motivation, and she was soon on top of the old barn.
"Happy Birthday, Robin Hood!" someone called. Much to her relief, the arrows had stopped flying at her, and Morgan was allowed the opportunity to peer over the side of the barn at the speaker. She recognized him as the leader of the mercenaries, but she was far too distracted by the circle on his forehead to remember his name. "Sheriff sends his best! Not to mention his best men!"
Morgan moved carefully along the roof of the barn, occasionally twisting to avoid an arrow. The mercenaries seemed to enjoy watching her squirm. That suited Morgan just fine, as long as it kept them from killing her on the spot. She could hear Much inside, already in a full-out panic. She got to the back end of the barn before she found what she was looking for. She drew her sword, using it to pry the loose plank away from the roof. She removed a few more planks, until there was a hole in the roof that she could squeeze through.
"Little John!" she called down, putting her sword away. Little John looked up at the sound of his name, his brow furrowing in confusion as he stared at Morgan. The rest of the outlaws were preoccupied by the pig's head that Djaq had just stuffed with black powder, throwing it out at the advancing mercenaries. The subsequent explosion nearly caused Morgan to fall off of the roof with surprise.
"What was that?" Morgan asked in a panic.
"Why are you on the roof?" Little John asked in return.
"Black powder! Get down before you break your neck! That's something that even I can't fix!" Djaq called up to Morgan. She slipped through the hole the roof, falling into John's outstretched arms.
"Sorry, I'm late," she announced sarcastically. "Did I miss anything?"
"No, you're just in time to die with the rest of us," Much answered quickly.
"Much, we're not going to die," Robin said from the door, though the way he paced around the barn undermined the confidence of his tone. He didn't have a plan, half of a plan, or even a sort of a half of a plan. Still, he felt compelled to at least act as though he was thinking one up. He'd almost had something, involving getting a message to Morgan, but because she had just joined them in the barn, he was back at square one.
"I'll bet you ten to one that Poppy had something to do with this," Morgan offered, joining Robin at the door, peeking out at the mercenaries. Robin bit his lower lip. She was probably right. Most of the news that came in and out of Nettlestone passed through the crazy, old gossip hound.
"I need to think," he muttered, stepping back from the door, leaving Morgan to watch.
"There are five of us and a hundred of them," Djaq stated, the hopelessness evident in her voice.
"Once, a few determined Spartans held a pass against a vast Persian army," Robin replied sagely.
"Really?" Will asked. Morgan glanced over her shoulder. It was moments like this, when Will would dare to show hope in his eyes, that she remembered that he was only nineteen.
"Strategy," Robin nodded.
"And they lived?" At Will's inquiry, the rest of the gang turned to Robin. He hesitated momentarily.
"No, but… they did well," he said in defense of the anecdote.
"Oh," Will managed, trying not to sound too crushed. Much clapped him on the shoulder.
"I hate that story, too," he grumbled, walking to the steps leading to the loft, sitting on them. Morgan, who hadn't moved from the barn door, stared out at the mercenaries, a faraway look in her eyes. Djaq tapped her on the shoulder.
"I'll watch," she offered, discretely telling her friend to move away from the door. Djaq had become unsettled by the way Morgan had been staring. There was something in her eyes that spoke volumes, but Djaq found that she couldn't understand what was being said. Morgan took a deep breath before she nodded and moved to the back of the barn, leaning against one of the support beams.
They'd been in the barn for hours. It would soon be dark outside. The gang had dispersed throughout the barn, all of them visibly nervous. Djaq was standing in place, swinging her arms. Much was still sitting on the ladder, fidgeting with the various fraying ends of his clothes. Will was sitting on a bench, occasionally shooting glances at his friends, his arms crossed determinedly over his chest. Little John and Robin were pacing round the barn, seemingly unable to stop walking. Morgan was hanging upside down from the barn's rafters, doing sit ups to keep herself occupied.
They heard bagpipes start to play outside, and the fact that the mercenaries had dared to play music seemed to incense Much. He turned, glaring at the origin of the music, a half-crazed look in his eyes. The disheveled state of his hair under his cap didn't help.
"This is driving me mad!" He declared. "Why don't they just come in here and kill us?" He rested his head on his arm, almost pouting.
"There's no incentive, Much," Robin explained. "Every hour that goes by, we become more fearful, more tired, more likely to take foolish action." The calm explanation served as a catalyst, first moving Will to words.
"The foolish action was bringing us here in the first place," he muttered. Much turned to face him.
"I said I'm sorry," he said defensively, frowning at Will as the carpenter rolled his eyes.
"That's not good enough," Little John spoke up. Morgan stopped doing sit ups, allowing herself to simply hang and watch the conflict erupt.
"Oh, you've never made a mistake?" Much said more than asked. "I'm not saying anything!"
"What?" Little John asked, narrowing his eyes.
"I'm not saying anything!" Much repeated, though he did the exact opposite as Little John crossed over to him. "You brought the Sheriff to our camp! You showed him where we live!"
"I was trying to feed the poor! That's what we used to do!" Little John barked back, pressing on in an uncharacteristically taunting tone. "What's this all about? Feeding your fat face?"
"Fat face?" Much repeated incredulously. Djaq and Will exchanged glances, choosing to stay out of the blossoming fight. Morgan pulled herself on top of the rafters, dropping deftly to the floor.
"Not being funny, but if we are going to die, I'd rather not have to listen to arguing for the last hours of me life," she muttered quietly. She was normally painfully optimistic, and Djaq was surprised to hear the defeatist statement from the blacksmith.
"Butt out, Morgan!" Much snapped. "What makes you so high and mighty?" Morgan's eyes flickered with something that could only be described as rage. Little John held his arm out, just in case Morgan got it in her head to launch herself at Much.
"I just didn't want you to argue? Is that too much to ask?" Morgan yelled, stepping forward. Little John strategically placed himself in between them.
"Leave Morgan alone, Much," he ordered.
"Why are you always siding with Morgan?" Much asked angrily, sparking up the fight again. Djaq led Morgan away, talking to her in a hushed whisper, leaving Much and Little John to their shouting match.
"Shut up! The pair of you!" Robin hollered over the argument, effectively silencing them. "This is exactly what they want us to do! Fighting amongst ourselves, and save them the trouble. Don't give them the satisfaction! In fact, I think we need to relax."
"Relax?" Will asked.
"I don't know why I didn't think of this before; it's my birthday! Let's celebrate! Let's eat!" Robin announced, giving Much a friendly push in the stomach as he made his way over to the roast hog. Much glanced apprehensively at Little John, checking to make sure that Robin wasn't listening.
"I haven't got a fat face," he mumbled.
"Fat face," Little John said shortly.
"Badger beard," Much retorted.
The eating hadn't gone well. Morgan, bothered by her lack of self-control, had muttered an embarrassed apology to Much before refusing food and sequestering herself in a corner of the barn. The rest of the gang had tried to eat, but after a brief exchange between Robin and Ellingham, they weren't exactly eager to chow down.
"Lads, I've got a proposal," Robin said. He wasn't being loud, but his voice filled the barn, drawing their attention. Even Morgan, who hadn't moved from her little corner, glanced over her shoulder, intently listening. Robin continued. "If they don't come to us, we go to them."
"When?" Little John asked.
"First light," Robin had apparently been thinking about his proposal.
"There's too many," Will pointed out.
"We'll die," Djaq blurted.
"It's suicide," Much said flatly. Robin nodded.
"A good day to die," John decided.
"Will you just shut up?" Much asked loudly. "Why does he always say that? Don't even know what it means!"
"We'll all most certainly die," Robin redirected the conversation, "but at least we'll die fighting."
"Yeah, I'm in," Will decided quickly.
"Me too," Djaq nodded.
"Yes," Little John said. Morgan nodded as Robin glanced over at her. He turned to Much, waiting for an answer.
"And me," Much confirmed.
"Good," Robin said softly.
"Then tonight is a Kalila and Dimna night!" Djaq announced, sounding rather perky for someone who was ready to die in the morning.
"What?" Will asked.
"You don't have Kalila and Dimna?" Djaq asked, though she knew the answer.
"Surprisingly not," Much sighed sarcastically.
"Kalila and Dimna night you remember for your whole life. You must speak only the truth. You must ask all your questions, share all your dreams, confess all your secrets," Djaq clarified.
"It's just talking?" Much asked.
"Yes, but it's real talking," Djaq replied. "And if you're too boring, someone shouts 'Kalila', and you lose your turn! You start." She offered the opportunity to Much, but it wasn't one that he readily accepted.
"Oh no," he shuddered.
"Just talk. You like talking," Djaq persisted.
"I know I do, but not like this," Much retorted.
"Fine," Djaq surrendered. "I'll start."
Morgan did not like Kalila or Dimna, and she was slightly aggravated that they'd been given a whole night. Sure, Will and Djaq had publicly gotten out their feelings for each other. Adversely, Little John had had a break down, Much had yelled at Robin, and Robin had become all too aware of the fact that he had been inadvertently mistreating his best friend. Djaq kept shooting looks at Morgan, who had stubbornly refused to join them around the fire, even though she was shivering in her corner.
"Morgan, do you want to say anything?" Djaq asked gently. Morgan shook her head, not turning away from the corner.
"Morgan, at least sit by the fire," Will insisted. Again, Morgan shook her head.
"Leave her be. If she doesn't want to talk, you can't force her. We know Morgan. We know her to be a kind person. That should be enough," Little John muttered. At this, Morgan did turn around, she did stand up, and she did speak.
"I'm sorry," she said plainly, her voice cracking from hours of silence. "I'm really sorry." The gang stared at her. They weren't sure why she was apologizing, but they were willing to listen to what she obviously wanted to say.
"You do not know Morgan Weaver," Morgan stated. "You don't know me. If you knew me, you wouldn't call me kind." Robin liked to think that he'd gotten pretty good at reading into what Morgan said, but here he found himself stumped. The inquisitive looks on the others' faces told him that he was not alone.
"When I was in the Holy Land," she started, but she seemed to lose her resolve. She paused, taking a breath before trying again. "I've told you that I've never killed before." That was true. Morgan had said it soon after she'd joined the gang, and they'd never seen her kill a single person.
"That was a lie," Morgan admitted, and she could feel her face growing hot. Her throat became tight, and she choked on the words that she was struggling to say. "When I was in the Holy Land, my mentor taught me that if I wanted to make weapons, I had to know how to wield them. I didn't argue. One night, word came that my brother had been captured. That the King couldn't send help for him. So, I went."
"By yourself?" Robin asked. Morgan shook her head.
"No. There was a young man who'd just arrived in the Holy Lands. His brother was in the King's private guard. He agreed to help me," she explained.
"Carter?" Much guessed. Morgan nodded. She had missed Carter's appearance in Nottingham, having been at her mother's, but she had quickly picked up the details.
"Carter and I found the prison camp where Michael was being held. It was a small village that had been converted by Saracen soldiers. We hit hard and fast," she stopped again, but pressed on. "The village hadn't been evacuated, and we didn't bother to differentiate between the soldiers and the civilians. And they weren't just men. There were women! Children! But I didn't care. They'd taken my brother, and I had my shiny, new weapons!" At this, she could no longer face the people that she thought so highly of, ashamed of her actions. She turned away, fists clenched at her sides as she forced herself to keep going.
"I didn't stop to think!" she said, her voice climbing in volume. "I never stop to think! And I keep killing people because of it! I killed Arnold! I killed Michael! I killed those Saracens! And now, because I didn't stop and look to see those damned mercenaries, I've gone and killed all of you!" Much moved to her, catching her as she allowed herself to falls to her knees, holding her in her arms.
"There was so much blood," she cried into his chest. "And I can still see them."
"Shhh," Much soothed, rocking her back and forth, looking at the rest of the gang. As a courtesy, they all looked away.
And there is chapter one! Again, I'm sorry about ripping off the show, but I really wanted to work in the Kalila and Dimna thing for Morgan.
Whew! Emotional chapter, to be sure. I don't think I have anything to say about it.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed, even though it was mostly scenes from the finale. (Sorry, again!) Thanks for bearing with me. Please review!