Guy sat up in his bed, sweat pouring from his body. He looked at his hands, sighing when he found there was no blood on them.
"Can't sleep?" The voice came from nowhere, but its owner shocked Guy more than anything.
"Morgan?" he asked softly, squinting through the dimly lit bedchamber. She was sitting on top of his desk, clad in a simple, white dress. Her hair was held back with a white band of cloth, a substitute for the headband she usually wore. "You can't be here."
"Oh, too right," she agreed with a casual nod. Guy sat forward, disbelief clear on his face.
"This isn't possible. Morgan Weaver is dead," he finally managed. She paused and locked eyes with him, grinning.
"Yeah, and you'd know something about that, wouldn't you?" Guy grabbed the sword by his bed and stood.
"Get out," he snarled.
"Or what?" Morgan asked with a laugh. "You'll kill me again?" She hopped off of the desk and stood before him, hands on her hips, daring him to try. Guy sighed and dropped his weapon.
"How did you survive?" he asked. Morgan laughed again, and Guy wondered how she'd gotten in and why she was being so loud.
"I didn't," she shrugged simply. If she didn't have Guy's attention before, she certainly had it now.
"What are you talking about?" Guy demanded, his patience wearing thin.
"This," Morgan paused, gesturing to indicate herself, "This is all in your head, Guy."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Guy scoffed. "Are you saying you're a ghost?"
"Not at all," Morgan shook her head. "I'm just a symbol of your conscience."
"My conscience?" Guy asked incredulously. "Don't insult me. If you're my conscience, why do you look like Morgan?" She shrugged innocently at the question.
"Beats me. I'm not here to answer questions, anyway," she said flatly.
"Then, assuming I believe you, why are you here?" Guy inquired shortly.
"Not being funny, but I'm guessing it's because you feel guilty," Morgan whispered conspiratorially. "You did stab two people that you promised to protect and all."
"Two people that had betrayed me!" Guy snapped angrily. "Two people that allowed me to believe in a lie!"
"Oh, come now, Guy," Morgan interrupted. "You knew something was up the whole time. Why else would you ask Allan about Marian and Robin?" Guy was momentarily floored.
"How could you know about that?" he asked, thunderstruck. Morgan tapped her nose and winked knowingly.
"It's all in your head, Guy," she repeated.
"Sir Guy?" Guy spun at the sound of his name, facing the guard that had cautiously peeked into the room. He quickly turned back to face Morgan, but she had gone, leaving no trace of her presence behind. "Sir Guy, are you alright?"
"Did you see her?" Guy growled, crossing the room and grabbing the guard by the collar.
"See who?" The guard sputtered in a panic. "Sir Guy, there's no one here." Guy glanced around the room, releasing the guard. Get a grip, Guy, he told himself firmly. Get a grip.
Most people look at a situation, see an outcome, and commit themselves to whatever seems most likely. Luke Scarlet, however, was not most people. Most people couldn't claim that they'd once hung from a rope and survived. Most people couldn't boast that their big brother was one of Robin Hood's men. Most people couldn't say that they'd helped an outnumbered group of men outlast an army of mercenaries.
Given that Luke Scarlet had indeed experienced all of those things (and then some), it was understandable that he'd made a habit of not accepting something until it had actually happened. So, when he'd returned to Nottingham after a particularly enjoyable visit to Scarborough and learned that Morgan had been missing for several days, he refused to listen to the stories circulating that the former castle blacksmith had met a grisly end at the hands of Guy of Gisborne.
Luke paused and inspected the roughly carved figure in his hands. He'd been absently whittling for nearly an hour, calmly reviewing the facts.
"I know that The Sheriff and Gisborne are back from the Holy Land," he started out loud, if only to break the uncomfortable silence. "I know that Morgan isn't here, or in the villages, or at the graveyard." He stopped and took a deep breath. He knew these things because he'd been to the villages and the graveyard. The first of the two had given him little information, and the second had given him too much. There had been flowers at the graves, so Luke was sure that Morgan had been there. There was also an unnerving amount of blood, and a sword that Luke recognized as Gisborne's.
Luke shook his head. There was no proof that the blood belonged to Morgan, and until he saw a body, he simply wouldn't believe that she was dead. He stood, setting the carved figurine on the table.
"More than that," he continued, "I know that people in Nottinghamshire are still in need." He nodded firmly. He would make that last statement his primary focus for the time being. He couldn't do
anything about The Sheriff or Gisborne; not by himself, anyway, and as much as he was worried about his friend, no amount of worrying would bring Morgan back from wherever it was that she'd rabbitted off to.
Tanner Williams adjusted his helmet for what felt like the fiftieth time. It had been three months, two weeks, and five days since Ellingham's men had been forcibly removed from Notthingham. Tanner was still reeling from the event that had taken place, and current events were doing little to help him.
With The Sheriff back, things had returned to normal at the castle, or at least to The Sheriff's shoddy definition of the word. They were still overworked. They were still underpaid. And some of them were still secretly consorting with outlaws, though Tanner wasn't quite sure if The Sheriff counted Luke as an outlaw, or even knew of the younger Scarlet brother's existence.
"Been expecting you," he muttered, stepping into one of the many alleys in the marketplace. Luke gave him a crooked sort of smile.
"Have you seen her?" he asked, none of the amusement in his smile making it to his voice. Tanner sighed, removing his helmet and running a hand through his hair.
"No," replied flatly. "Guy came back with her tag. He told The Sheriff that he put his sword through her and left her body for the birds." The stare he received from Luke told him that he could perhaps afford to be a tad less blunt about the whole situation. He tried again.
"A couple of us went out there to check. There was a lot of blood, but there wasn't a body." Tanner paused. It wasn't his intention to raises Luke's hopes without a cause, but he felt that the facts should be reported. "The theory is that the villagers pulled her body down and buried her somewhere, but if that's true, then they're keeping a tight lid on it. Poppy doesn't even know."
Luke's nose wrinkled at the mention of the old gossip from Nettlestone, but he was inwardly relieved. If she didn't have any information about the whereabouts of Morgan's body, then the blacksmith could very well have survived.
"There's more," Tanner pressed on. "The Nightwatchman hasn't been round for weeks." Luke suppressed a laugh. To keep people from making the connection between Marian's journey to the Holy Land and the absence of The Nightwatchman, Morgan had occasionally donned a costume and delivered food. The blacksmith didn't particularly enjoy those occasions, complaining that the costume was uncomfortable and it was nearly impossible to see out of the stupid mask.
"The Sheriff is happy about it, I take it?" Luke asked. Tanner shook his head, grinning widely.
"Far from. He's got a new problem. Some bloke called Brother Tuck. Arrived just before you did," he mentioned casually. Luke frowned.
"How is that a problem?" he asked. Tanner had been waiting for the question and immediately launched into an explanation.
"Well, with Robin Hood and The Nightwatchman, The Sheriff could just have them shot. They were vigilantes, after all. But Tuck is a man of the cloth. Sheriff can't do anything about him. Prince John may have his back, but he wouldn't dare cross Rome." Luke cottoned on to what Tanner was telling him.
"And this Brother Tuck is handing out to the poor," he concluded, which Tanner confirmed.
"He's at Ripley Convent. Can't speak a lick of English, but he has a translator," the guard continued, replacing his helmet. "At any rate, I better get back." Luke watched as Tanner jogged through the market, skillfully weaving through the crowd as he made his way back to his post.
"Ripley Convent," Luke repeated to himself, pulling his hood over his head.
--One Month Later--
"English air!" Much exclaimed, taking a deep breath as he stepped off the ship.
"English soil!" Allan chimed in gratefully, though his cry was far less exuberant. He had been the first to get off of the ship, but he felt as though he were still standing on it.
"This, I like," Little John smiled, glad to see something green that wasn't Allan's face.
"I agree," Robin sighed. "Come on, lads. We've still got a long ride back." This elicited a groan from the rest of the group, who hardly wanted to be reminded that they were still a considerable distance from home.
Thankfully, Djaq had had the foresight to pay one of the inn keepers to keep their horses. Robin smiled as they walked towards the inn, though the sight of it reminded him of how much he would miss Djaq and Will. While he talked with the inn keeper and paid him accordingly, Much, Allan, and Little John readied the horses.
"What do we do with the other two?" Little John asked, pointing out the now-extra horses. Allan frowned. The fact that Will and Djaq had stayed behind didn't sit well with him, and he'd been pretending not to notice that they were gone. The sight of their horses didn't quite go along with his plan.
"Robin will probably sell them," Much muttered, turning to face the rest of them as he made the comment. In doing so, he caught sight of Allan's less-than-pleased expression. "Hey, cheer up. At least you've got a wife to go home to." Allan smiled despite himself, though he tried to maintain his grumpy demeanor.
"Strictly speaking, that's true," he said airily. Robin entered the stable, grinning widely as a coin purse jingled at his waist.
"At least we'll have something for the villagers when we get back," he shrugged, giving the spare horses a fond pat before climbing onto his own. "Well, let's get going!"
The Sheriff was in a good mood, or what he considered to be a good mood. While he hadn't killed the king, he had certainly injured him, and he was convinced that he would no longer have to worry about Guy's conscience. His man-at-arms had stabbed not only his one true love, but his best friend's little sister. If Guy could ignore that kind of loyalty, then The Sheriff was sure that nothing could sway him. The man was acting rather strangely of late, but The Sheriff figured that he was readjusting to the English atmosphere.
Presently, Guy was standing next to him on the castle steps, patiently waiting for the arrival of some visitor. The Sheriff hadn't bothered filling him in on the details, merely explaining that Prince John was sending a noblewoman to Nottingham. Guy couldn't say that he was excited about the new arrival. He'd had quite enough of privileged women.
The carriage that finally rolled into the pavilion was of notable craftsmanship, and the man that stepped off of the back of the carriage, dressed in an unnecessarily opulent uniform told Guy that he would have to deal with his newly developed aversion for privileged women.
"Representing the noble house of Sweeney, her Ladyship Moira and her brother, his Lordship Todd," the man proclaimed, pulling the door of the carriage open and sweeping his arm towards the persons inside. The man that stepped out elicited several giggles from the servant girls in the square. He was tall, with a build that suggested athleticism. He smiled amicably, waving at the servant girls, who'd began to discretely whisper about his soft, blonde hair and his gorgeous, blue eyes.
The woman that followed him couldn't have been more his opposite. She had black hair and blacker eyes, and while her brother seemed to give off an air of friendliness, she seemed to suck all the joy from the area.
"Your ladyship," The Sheriff began, but the woman held up a hand and silenced him.
"Your reputation precedes you, Vaysey," she informed, hints of an Irish lilt to her voice. "You've no need to force such pleasantries with me, I assure you. I am not a slack-jawed idiot that needs flowery words for entertainment." Here, her gaze flitted over to her brother, who seemed to miss the insult completely. Guy looked over at The Sheriff, trying to read the man's reaction. It wasn't often that someone interrupted the man, and it was even less often that he was rebuked.
"Very well," The Sheriff muttered flatly. "Gisborne, show them to their rooms." Guy nodded and held out an arm for the lady, but she brushed past him.
"If I needed to lean on something, I'd have a cane. Far more reliable than a man," she snapped. Todd came up behind and clapped Guy on the shoulder.
"Don't take it personal," he sighed. "She's like that to everyone." Guy had been dealing with The Sheriff for so long that he'd hardly noticed Moira's scathing comment. He was more surprised by Todd's genial apology.
"Your rooms are at the end of the corridor, near the Great Hall. I can show you," he finally muttered.
"No, don't trouble yourself," Todd smiled, picking up his own trunk and starting down the hall. "You may want to have something to eat ready, though. Moira gets angry when she gets peckish." Guy nodded, watching the man walk away.
"My Lord?" he asked, turning to face The Sheriff. He was surprised to find that the man was grinning. In perhaps the most uncharacteristic move that he'd ever made, he patted Gisborne on the back and gave a genuine laugh.
"This, my boy, is going to be a fun visit," he chuckled, practically skipping away. Guy was confused. He glanced over his shoulder, where Morgan, or rather his mental projection of the blacksmith, had been quietly standing for several minutes.
"Not being funny, but he seemed… pleased," she said. "A bit like you used to be when you talked with Marian."
"Don't start," Guy mumbled quietly, unaware of the look he was getting from the guards. "I'm turned around enough without that on my mind."
"Yeah, I suppose the very notion of the Sheriff being infatuated with someone other than himself is mildly disconcerting, if not a bit disgusting," Morgan continued, pulling a face.
"Shut up!" Guy growled, stalking away, though to his chagrin Morgan was following him. The guard on duty looked after his retreating boss and nudged the other guard.
"Was Sir Guy just talking to himself?" he asked quietly. The second guard shrugged.
"Probably. I've been saying it since the beginning. They're nutters, the lot of them," he replied flatly.
This will be my first 1192 story since "It's a Matter of Resolve." I've been kicking the idea around for a while, but things kept interrupting me.
No, it's not really Morgan. Guy's literally going insane with guilt. We get to see a Conscience!Marian later on. That should be fun(?)
Let me know what you think of Moira and Todd. I'm still fiddling with their characters at this point, and I'm open to suggestions. As is Moira is obviously more Sheriff like, whereas Todd is meant to come across as more lighthearted and friendly. Think Guy, before he went postal and killed Marian. Something like that.
Hope you all enjoy! Please review!