"No, no, no," Bull said, "I'm telling you. It was the night before last was the last time anyone came through here."
"No, it weren't!" Hal replied, rolling his eyes, "'Cause we weren't on watch that night!"
"Well then what were we doing?"
"We were drinking!" Hal said simply.
"No we weren't!"
"Yes, we were."
"Guys, can we give it a rest?" Will Scarlet asked, lazily opening one eye. "Does it really matter when someone last came through Sherwood?" The three of them were on watch together, camouflaged in the bushes, waiting for some rich bishop or noble to come through the forest.
"Well, my point is," Bull argued, "No one come anymore and I'm getting right bored just sittin' around on me arse all day!"
Will chuckled at that. "Well, get used to it. Everyone is done coming through Sherwood."
"An' why's that?" Hal asked, leaning on his bow.
"Because," Will explained, "Everyone knows we are here. They won't risk going through the woods anymore. They would rather add the ten days onto the trip and make sure they keep all their gold."
Hall and Bull nodded, assessing this.
"He's probably right," Bull told Hal. Hal shrugged.
"Of course I am!" Will smiled.
"Well ain't you a cocky little shit-" Bull teased, punching Will in the arm. Will jumped up, tackling him in the stomach. The two of them rolled out of hiding onto the path, wrestling and yelling.
"Will you two knock it off?" Hal yelled, "Robin's gonna kill us!"
"Aw, lighten up-"Will stopped mid-word as he looked up. Standing on the path in front of him was a small boy, no more than 12. Will looked at his face, thin, covered in soot. He didn't look like one of the kids from the camp, but he couldn't be sure. They all tended to look alike anyway, especially when they were dirty. But this one had strange eyes, deep green. He thought we would have remembered those eyes.
"Who is this?" Bull muttered, standing up slowly, as if afraid he might scare the child as if it were a deer.
"I don't know," Will answered honestly.
"Well, say something to it."
"Don't you er- belong at the camp?" Will said hesitantly. He didn't like kids much. The only one he really even talked to was Wulf- and he hardly counted as a kid since he had been killing deer for months now.
The boy shook his head, slowly. Then looked over his shoulder. Will followed his gaze but saw nothing.
"Did you get lost?" Hal asked.
The boy hesitated for a minute, looking back over his left shoulder again, and then shook his head.
"Are you going somewhere?" Bull asked now, totally relaxing.
"Coming from somewhere?" Hal piped in. The two of them continued their guessing game, but the boy just keep looking over his shoulder. Will peered behind him, until he thought he saw- was that? Something in the bushes? Maybe another kid? He stepped forward, reached his hand out to part the leaves and
Wham! Something collided with his forehead and sent him reeling backwards.
"Run James, run!" He heard a female voice ring out and heard scuffling through the underbrush. He leapt to his feet, unsheathing his sword and taking off into the woods, following the voices.
"We got the boy over here!" Hal yelled from Will's right. "The girl went th' other way!"
Will sprang after some quivering bushes. He caught a glimpse of hair rounding a tree and sprinted after it. Come on, come on, he urged his feet. The last thing he needed was that hot shot Robin thinking he couldn't handle a stupid girl. She was fast though, and Will found himself sweating and panting as he followed her. He almost grabbed a hold of her as she scurried up some rocks, but she ducked under a fallen trunk he was too big to fit under and he lost her again. He paused for a moment and spotted her, scaling the rocks. Stupid girl, he thought. The only place she'll end up is in the river. He lunged up the rocks behind her. When he came to the top, sure enough, there she was, stuck between him and the river.
She was a skinny girl. Young too. He hair was disgustingly knotted and hung in snake-like tendrils around her face. Her expression was fierce though, he would give her that. Her lips were so curled back, he almost expected her to start growling at him. But her clothes were of good quality and she wore many bracelets and gold jewelry. She held out a long broadsword in front of her, daring him to come closer.
"We got the boy!" Hal called again, and Will glanced down to see Hal and Bull and the boy staring up at them both from down the hill.
"We mean you no harm," Will said to the girl, "Just tell us who you are and why you are in our forest."
"I will not tell you who I am," the girl spat. "I have just as much a right to be here as you do."
Will sighed, a spunky one. "You're right. You can stay here. You just owe us a tax. Give us some of your jewelry."
The girl laughed. "Is that all?"
Will stopped, uncomfortable with her reaction. "What do you mean "is that all?""
The girl put down her sword and began taking off her accessories.
"Here," she said, peeling gold and silver bracelets off her wrists. She pulled gold earrings off her lobes and piled them all in one hand. When Will didn't react, she leaned forward and placed them in his hand. As she did, he caught sight of a gold chain around her neck.
He grabbed her upper arm tightly. The girl flinched, fighting to get away, but Will was much stronger. His hand fit around her entire upper arm.
"And the necklace."
The girl looked up at him, for he was more than a few inches taller than him. He was startled by two things. First, the deep green of her eyes, just like the boys. They must be related. Second, the pure hatred that shown within them.
"Take anything from me but this necklace," she said. Will hated when people spoke like that without thinking. He would teach her a lesson.
The girl nodded.
"Including your brother?" Will asked. He eyes flashed again with anger.
"No, not him."
"So give us the necklace."
She reached up, wrapped her fingers around it and yanked it off her neck, spitting in his face as she did so.
"You bitch!" Will yelled, reaching up to wipe his eye. As he did, he loosened his hold on her and she moved away, kneeing him in the groin as she did so.
"Spoiled brat!" She yelled, kicking his sword into the river and picking up her own. She jumped down the rocks and started towards where Hal and Bull held her brother.
"Get back here you little twit!" Will yelled, scrambling to his feet and starting after her. No girl was going to kick him in the nuts and get away with it.
"Let us go." She commanded Bull and Hal. "We have paid your tax. We would like to continue starving on our own, thanks." Hal and Bull stepped aside as she grabbed the boy's arm.
"Some lot you are. Come to Robin Hood and his men for help and all you do is take what little pride and money we got left. Robin Hood's a fraud." She yelled over her shoulder, the anger practically rising in visible waves out of her body, her back rigid.
"A fraud?" a voice asked. Will looked up to see Robin Hood dropping lightly from a nearby tree, landing neatly in front of the two children.
The girl gulped. Will smiled triumphantly. Something could intimidate her. She nodded, slowly.
"And why is that?" Robin asked.
"Because we have nothing," the girl said, "And you took what little we did have. I came to your men for help and they attacked us, separated us and took what was not theirs."
"Well," Robin said simply, "If it is our help you want, it is our help you shall get. Come to our camp, and tell me why you are here. Only, I must blindfold you so that you cannot show others the way."
The girl looked around suspiciously, her eyes narrowing on Will. Catching her look, Robin added,
"I give you my word nothing will happen to you or your brother."
"And you are, in fact, Robin of the Hood?" she asked.
Robin gave a little bow, "At your service, milady."
The girl looked around again and the nodded sullenly. "Fine. We will come."