Disclaimer: No i don't own Robin Hood...go ahead, rub it in...jerk...
A/N: Here it is, my crack at a very dramatic dark Robin Hood fic. Robin doesn't actually die, so don't complain! For further warning, this story is very intense and dark!
UPDATE: This story has gone through a serious overhaul. Some chapters (like this first one) only needed some cosmetic changes to grammar and spelling and the like. Other chapters have had some hardcore corrective surgery. I'm still not completely satisfied but it's infinitely better than it was before. I can only hope my previous readers will agree.
The Death Of Robin Hood
"Who are they?" Will whispered low. His head turned sideways to glance at Robin who was lying flat next to him.
"I don't know," the outlaw whispered just as low. They watched two brightly colored wagons as they were being pulled along by heavy pie-bald horses.
"Maybe it's a tinker?" Little John said quietly from his position on Robin's other side.
"Shh!" Djaq hissed from her hidden position in the tree.
"Could be a magician," Allan suggested in a not-so-quiet whisper.
"Hush!" Djaq hissed again.
"Maybe it's a trap?" Much muttered worriedly. A pinecone bounced off the top of his head.
"Be. Quiet," the thickly accented voice warned from above. Robin smiled.
"Whoever they are, perhaps we should welcome them to our little forest." He pushed himself up and brushed off the dirt and leaves from his chest. "Come on gang."
Early that Day…
"And you're sure it's ready?" the Sheriff asked for the umpteenth time. Gisborne sighed angrily.
"Yes, I'm sure it's ready! They know what to do and I promised them enough gold to make them happy," he snapped. There was a moment of petulant silence. "I don't need him to make Hood suffer."
"Why don't we just kill 'im?"
"Because I want him to be broken. There is an art to these things Gisborne. Which is why I've hired a professional."
"What if he gets away?"
"Is it ready?"
"Then he won't get away."
Robin ran his hand over the bi-colored rump of the first horse. He smiled at the scowling old woman in the driver's seat. "Good day, welcome to Sherwood. And who might you be?"
There was no answer.
The others quickly searched through the wagons. Robin leaned to the side and caught John's eye. The big man shook his head which meant only one thing: nothing of interest here. Robin smiled again at the woman and moved to see for himself. The first wagon had a man, a woman, and two children in it. They sat amongst piles of belongings. They reminded Robin of the nomads in the Holy Land. A quick look at the other wagon showed it to be full of more belongings. Robin quickly decided that these people meant no harm. He walked back up to the old woman.
"I do not know where you are going or if you can understand me but if you can, do not stop in Nottingham. Just stay on the road and keep going," Robin warned. Then he lightly slapped the horse on its flank and backed away with another smile. The woman still eyed him suspiciously but then slapped the rains against the creatures back and the wagon started forward with a groan. The second wagon started to follow and Robin and his men gathered off the road, ready to disappear into the woods. But then a high whinny pulled Robin's attention back to the wagon. The big horse was pawing at the ground with a massive hoof and snorting like it had just inhaled a bee. The young boy in the driver's seat slapped the rains and made coxing noises to try and get the horse to move but still nothing happened. The first wagon simply continued on, gaining speed and starting to disappear around the corner.
"Will, run and tell the other wagon to turn back," Robin ordered. Then he started for the horse in distress. The beast was rearing up now and the boy was growing frantic. Much yelled out warning. John ran down to help. Djaq and Allan simply stood and watched.
Quite suddenly, the horse stopped snorting and crumpled to the ground just as Robin got to it. One of the wooden shafts connecting the horse to the wagon snapped as the big piece of horse flesh suddenly dropped onto it. The boy leapt off the wagon and was at the horse's side in an instant. Robin shared an exasperated look with Little John. The big man leaned down and placed a hand on the horse's shoulder.
"Robin?" There was sudden alarm in John's voice. Robin looked down at John's hand which held a small feather tipped dart.
This was wrong.
This was an ambush.
"Master!" Much shrieked across the forest. "The soldiers are coming!" Robin's head whipped around. Sure enough, the telltale flash of the Sheriffs colors bounced in amongst the trees a good deal off. This was so not good.
"Everybody run!" he shouted to his men.
Something suddenly tugged at Robin's wrist and he looked down to find a heavy iron shackle around it - a shackle that just so happened to be connected to a chain which was connected to the solid wood of the wagon. The boy took off running then, as fast as his little legs would go - a long key dangling from his clenched fist. Robin's eyes grew round. John didn't give it a moments thought before tearing off after the boy with the key. Much and the others were running towards him… but that was just what Gisborne wanted, Robin was sure of it!
"No! Run!" he shouted. Allan hesitated. Djaq and Much did not.
"We are not leaving you!" the manservant insisted.
"Much, you are no good to me dead, now go! John will get me out." Robin looked more to Djaq. She could read him well. "Go, now," Robin growled. The Saracen grabbed Much's sleeve and yanked him back to the safety of the forest. That left only John and Robin. The boy was much faster than the larger man and Robin knew it. That meant he was down to himself. He scanned the wagon but saw nothing of use so he dug an arrow out and started to pick at the wood that held the chain.
Desperation drives one to improbable tasks.
"Don't even try it Locksley." Gisborne's voice cut through the air.
There was a moment of ridiculous indignation in which Robin hacked frantically at the wagon. But that moment ended in a heartbeat and Robin dropped his head with a heavy sigh. He carefully collected his senses and wits behind a cool demeanor.
"Excellent work Gisborne. Very clever," Robin finally conceded, half turning to look at Gisborne. "Who thought of this one? Surely not you or the Sheriff, it's much too imaginative," he goaded. Robin caught sight of Little John in the distance, toying with his big wooden staff. He slowly tilted his head to the side and stared hard at the man for a split second. John hesitated then backed off behind some bushes. Robin sensed, rather than saw, Gisborne leaning against the wagon.
"You're getting sloppy Hood," the other man said casually then turned to one of the many armed soldiers. "Go get the key from the boy. Give this to his grandmother." Gisborne tossed a small heavy looking sack to a soldier who rode off immediately.
"You're really ready for another round Gisborne?" Robin asked with a coy smile. "Have you fully recovered your pride from last time?" Robin knew he was setting himself up for a punch to the nose but he also knew that when that happened, Gisborne lost something – control, intelligence. A little nose blood and some broken cartilage was an easy price.
The other man glared at him for a moment then gave him a twisted smile. "Are you ready for a new opponent Locksley?"
"Oh I do hope he's better than what I've been up against so far. Beating you so easily gets a bit tedious sometimes," Robin said with a cheeky grin. And there it was. Something snapped behind Gisborne's eyes and his hand was curling into a fist.
"Gisborne! Do not let him get to you!" A new voice rang out in the forest. Robin finally turned around and looked to see a short-ish man clad in a heavy cloak and hood. His face was hidden in shadow. Robin smiled cheekily again.
"Welcome to my forest," he said brightly, despite the unease that rolled in his stomach.
The newcomer was silent for a brief moment before turning to Gisborne. "He is arrogant and clever, you are not to allow him to control the conversation." The voice was low and gravely. "You have made him comfortable with your incompetence."
"Now now," Robin tisked. "Don't blame Gisborne. It's not all his fault. Don't you know who I am? I am Ro—" Quite suddenly the butt of a spear came speeding towards him, hitting Robin square in the throat with a tremendous force. Pain exploded along the length of his neck. A strangled noise squawked past his lips as he fought to breathe and control the pain and not choke on his tongue which felt like it had detached and was skidding down a tunnel of broken glass. His legs crumpled beneath him, leaving one arm awkwardly pinned to the wagon as his free hand instantly clapped protectively around his neck. It was a cold and calculated blow of the sort that left one reeling in a blind scramble to recover.
"Gisborne, you will not use his name nor allow him to use it," the low voice commanded. "Call him whatever you wish but you will not use his name. Robin Hood is dead."
TO BE CONTINUED...