A/N: hello all. :3 My aunt came over and took me Christmas shopping at the local Walmart, so I got a necklace with a cross shaped hole in a rectangle of sterling silver with the word "faith" scrawled beneath it. I also got the Forbidden Kingdom DVD and two CDs. She said "pretend you have fifty dollars, now go spend it." XD unfortunately, I don't tend to buy a lot from Walmart unless I have to, so going forth to spend it all at walmart was a challenge for me. I was so distracted by trying to figure out what I really wanted that I forgot that it was fifty dollars and not thirty. In any case, I was glad to see Aunt Joyce and Uncle Jim and Uncle Dave. They all came to our house to check it out and to see my grandma, who is the sister of both Uncle Jim and Uncle Dave and the sister-in-law to Aunt Joyce through Jim.

Oh, and one of my favorite cousins, Dan, had his daughter born not too long ago so Uncle Dave, his dad, brought a picture of the little girl so we could see her. ^^

Chapter Eight

John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, stood and eyed the encampment where the French army waited. He snorted and shook his head, moving away from the window to look over the maps that were given to him. The French were weak willed and could not take much more of the great hammer of England coming down on their heads, but that was where his usual tactic of hitting hard and hitting fast worked to his advantage.

"Captain Talbot! Message!"

Talbot turned to see one of his men running over to him with a rolled up parchment. He handed it off to Talbot and waited for his dismissal as Talbot untied the string holding it and looked through the note. "They request a reply, sir," said the young man.

Talbot snorted and eyed the letter. No doubt this had been dictated, but the woman who had dictated it had signed with her own hand a single name "Jeanne". "It seems the French are desperate if they are allowing a woman in their ranks to dictate letters to me," he said, "Tell them they can go fuck themselves for all I care. We're not surrendering to that weak lot."

The young man grinned and jogged off out of Talbot's sight and Talbot heard the messenger scream out "Fuck off" to the French, not even bothering to waste time on writing a note to them. Talbot liked that about his men. They, too, knew that the French telling them to retreat was absolutely ridiculous and incredibly laughable. They were the English army and the English didn't run.

It was then that something very odd happened. One moment Talbot was looking at the table with the maps on it, the next he saw something move in front of it as though it were a person. "Hello?" He put his hand on his sword at his side in case it really was a person instead of a ghost.

"Ah, so you saw me, did you?" Whoever it was spoke English very well, though Talbot still could not see who it was that was speaking and sneaking around him.

"You be a thief, show yourself and I might think about letting you go with a reward should you do me a little favor," said Talbot. "I could use a thief right now."

The ghost laughed and he saw a chair pull out and heard someone sit in it. As if a breeze blew through in that spot, a figure appeared and solidified somewhat on the chair before him. It was a man dressed in an older style of clothing, the colors faded and dirty as though he hardly ever washed them; the edges worn and places where holes were sewn up could be seen. The ghost before him had a very long, grayish-green scarf that was wound around his neck and obscured part of his face while the broad brimmed had upon his head obscured the rest. He was slightly tanned and had black hair, that much Talbot could tell, but his most defining feature were his green eyes that stood out like bright emeralds in the dark.

"And what task would you need a thief?" asked the man, eyeing Talbot lazily.

"I take it back. You're either a witch or a ghost and I don't believe in witches," said Talbot. "So what brings a ghost to me?"

"A man of rationale I see," said the ghost, smirking faintly behind his scarf. He slipped his bow off his shoulder and perched it on its tip in front of him as though it were some sort of walking stick or cane, resting his hands on the top of it as he gazed at Talbot. "I'm no ordinary ghost, though."

"An archer, I see. English, hmmm? Well, that's at least a consolation. Seen far too many French for my tastes." Talbot snorted and turned around to put the letter over the candle on his desk and lit it on fire. "So what does the ghost of an old English archer need with me and so very far from home? Did you perchance die here?"

"Hardly," said the ghost, "I died back home, deep in the woods, from an illness while on the run from some very nasty people who wanted to use me to demoralize my fellows and the poor people under the nasty fellow's thumb."

Talbot stopped and thought for a moment as he gazed at the burning letter in his hand. That tale sounded oddly familiar, though he couldn't place why. "Interesting tale you have, ghost. Care to give me a name?"

"Names are power, are they not?" said the ghost.

Talbot snorted derisively and shook his head. "So you refuse to give me a name. Care to give me any reason why I shouldn't get my priest up here to banish you then?"

"A priest can't banish what isn't evil," said the ghost quickly, "But you're welcome to try."

Talbot frowned and finally blew out the fire on the letter before it reached his hand and dropped it into a bin to dispose of it later. He turned and eyed the ghost warily, taking a breath to cool his ire. There was no real use in getting angry with a ghost when he couldn't exactly harm him physically. The ghost was clearly someone well known and a cagey character at that. Therefore, the man's name must be incredibly important to know how to handle him correctly.

Talbot made a mental tally of the man's obvious characteristics and began filtering the list down inside his head as he poured himself a cup of wine and sipped it. He had to say one thing about the French in their favor: they were excellent cooks and excellent wine producers. "A ghost of an English archer who clearly hides his appearance out of habit and hides his name because of its fame," said Talbot softly. He smirked at the irony of the answer that popped into his head, that he should have that person before him when he clearly had originally simply been a myth.

"Robin Hood," said Talbot as he eyed Robin with an eerie smile that made Robin grow cold inside. "My, my, I always did wonder if you were truly real or just a myth. Now I know."

Robin put on a partial smile toward Talbot, though now more wary than he had been previously. "Bravo, you guessed my name aright."

"And what power do I have over a famous ghost?" asked Talbot. He chuckled and shook his head, sitting down at his desk. "If I told my men that I was speaking to Robin Hood they would laugh at me and then the King and his regent would hear of it. I would be deemed unfit for duty."

Robin was reminded of the Sheriff as he watched Talbot sip from his cup. He was cool and accustomed to handling people by just his command and, from what Robin had seen of Orleans and the encampment of men, he was just as brutal as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin's face set in a grim glare toward Talbot, the smile lost from his handsome face. "Leave the French alone."

For the first time Talbot looked genuinely surprised by Robin. He choked on his wine and set the cup down as he took out a handkerchief and wiped his mouth and beard. "Are you serious?"


Talbot laughed and stuffed his handkerchief away up his sleeve once more before standing up. "And what, pray tell, is a spirit of a myth doing here to tell me to leave the pitiful little French alone? I say that; I should know better than that. You're Robin the Hood, of course. You rob from the rich and give to the poor."

"In a manner of speaking, yes I do," said Robin, "But I also make absolute mischief and grief for men who I really don't like."

Talbot snorted and moved closer to Robin before walking to his door. "I would sooner kiss a hag's ass than retreat. I have a duty to my king and I will uphold that duty." He opened the door and held out a hand toward it. "There is the door, you may leave now. Go back to England; go back to your tales and myths. You do not belong here."

"Neither do you," said Robin softly.

Talbot regarded Robin for a moment. "If I don't leave, then what will you do? Haunt me? Please, I have other things far scarier than you back home and they happen to be the king's regent and my wife."

"I don't have to do anything, actually," said Robin, lazily lying back in his chair and pulling his hat down as though he were going to snooze right there. "There is among the French camp a woman who will make minced meat out of you and yours."

"No woman will ever beat me," snapped Talbot, "Let alone a French harpy."

"Oh, I wouldn't wager too much on that bet, Captain Talbot," said Robin. He chuckled and settled into his chair, getting ready for a nice nap. "I have it on good authority that you are making the single greatest mistake in your life."

"Get out." Talbot had had enough of the old thief. "Get out or I really will bring the priest up here to get rid of you."

"As I said, you can't get rid of me with a priest. A priest can only banish evil and I am hardly evil." Robin chuckled a little more and then yawned loudly, stretching his arms over his head before settling into the chair once more. "If you don't mind too terribly, Captain Talbot, I think I'll stay right here and wait for a while so I can watch you fail very hard."

Furious, Talbot threw a discarded elbow guard at Robin's head, but it simply went through. Defeated for the moment, Talbot decided ignoring the lout was the best action to take and proceeded to do just that; however Robin seemed to become increasingly transparent as the day wore on into night until he finally disappeared. When Talbot decided the ghost had finally left, he went to bed to get some rest. The French, for all their foolishness, were at least a tenacious lot and didn't wholly give up trying to find a way into the English's happy little fort set up at the gate to Orleans.

Jeanne woke up to the feeling of something terribly wrong about her. She blinked and looked around her, though she saw nothing out of the ordinary before her. The tents were empty outside save for hers and the horses were gone, when she stepped outside. They had left without her again!

Jeanne ran back into her tent and slapped Aulon's shoulder hard to wake him up before hauling on her chainmail and armor as quickly as she could. "Wake up, Jean!" she cried. "They left without us again! If the English haven't killed Dunois already, I'll skin him myself!"

Jean d'Aulon shot up out of his bed and hurriedly helped Jeanne dress herself in her armor before pulling on his and getting the horses for the both of them. However, Jeanne beat him to the horse as she picked up her standard and pulled herself up onto the saddle and rode off without a second word. Aulon followed as close as he could to Jeanne as they made their way to the battle ground of Orleans. There, what greeted their eyes could be described in no other terms except absolute chaos. Men were ripping each other apart, English archers were shooting from the ramparts and Dunois was in the middle of it screaming at the top of his lungs, "RETREAT!"

The men scattered like children, running as fast as they could away from the English fort. Jeanne could see them growing larger in her vision as she made her way right into the middle of them all. Dunois waved to her to make her stop, but she continued past him at top speed toward the fort. Dunois screamed at her back, "You're going to get yourself killed, you crazy woman!!"

The men watched as she rode full tilt at the gate and went into the ditch in front of it, underneath the spikes that had been erected outside of it. She rode around trying to find a way in while men shouted at her and tried to shoot her with arrows. It was as though none of them could touch her and with the French army coming up behind her the English quickly began trying to get their men back together and scramble to annihilate the French.

Jeanne gave a shout of triumph as she found an opening and cut the bonds holding portion of gate upright. It fell to her and she used it to ride up into the fort and through the crowd of men coming at her. She quickly knocked them away from her using the pole of her standard and went to the drawbridge. She kicked the release on the drawbridge as hard as she could manage and was pleasantly surprised when the drawbridge fell before her. There, she rode out and quickly waved her standard to the French army. "Come with me and fight," she cried, "Fight for your country! Fight for GOD!"

The men of the French army saw their little La Pucelle waving her flag in front of an open gate to the fortress at Orleans and charged with all the might they could muster. The English, for once, looked genuinely frightened by the French as they watched them coming at them. Chaos reigned once more, but this time, in the sea of men, there rode a woman dressed as a man with her flag held proudly amongst them. For the first time in a long while, the French men were winning. They were taking Orleans back and taking back one more piece of their home away from the English. It was enough to give any French man a sense of pride and it was because this crazy, strange woman who was so determined to join the fight had made herself an entrance and forced an exit from the small fort.

The fight lasted only a little while, but Jeanne had managed to protect a few of her men with her standard pole and her sword. When it was over, she and the rest went into Orleans and found the rest of the populace inside the walls of Orleans running up to her and the men as they entered. It was strange to have so many people staring at her as though she were some sort of odd specimen. She covered her head with her helm quickly and tried to not take notice as they began whispering to each other and the men around her join in with the whispering.

A voice pulled her away from all of it, however, as she felt a body sit behind her in her saddle; a male body and the distinct smell of an old forest overwhelming her. She blinked and refused to turn around as she heard him speak, "You did well, Maid Jeanne."

"Why are you here?" she demanded softly. "We just dispatched a few of your countrymen. Why won't you follow them?"

"Be careful you don't speak too loudly, Maid Jeanne," said Robin softly in her ear. It sent a strange shiver through her. "Or else they'll think you truly are insane and no one wants that to happen. I only appeared to congratulate you. You did well in persevering where these men would not dare."

"I only did what I thought was right," said Jeanne softly. She turned slightly to look at him before her cheeks flushed faintly and she looked ahead. "Nothing more, nothing less. I got my men inside and that is all that matters."

"Your men?" asked Robin, smirking faintly behind his scarf. He leaned closer to her ear and she really did shiver from the sound of his voice this time. "Already you think of them as your men. You've got a true leader buried beneath that cute, innocent farmgirl persona, Jeanne. I like that." Then, he kissed her ear and she felt him no more.

"Something the matter, La Pucelle?" asked Aulon as he came up next to her.

"No," snapped Jeanne before she hurried along to be beside Dunois, leaving poor Aulon confused as to what had occurred.