Disclaimer: I own nothing, but sadly, fanfiction owns ME!
A/N: And on we go! This will be a short chapter, just for the sake of continuation.
The outlaws quickly reclaimed their weapons, hardly pausing in their haste to escape. Robin slung his bow over his shoulder, absentmindedly, his gaze locking on to Todd; he watched as the boy cleaned his dagger of the guard's blood. He could hardly fathom the quick action Todd had taken to save his life. But he was not allowed to ponder it long.
"Quick now," Todd said as he stowed his blade back into its scabbard, "We have to be past the gates before they wake."
He spoke with the authority of Robin himself- like the leader of an outlaw band. No one questioned his word. As they made to leave, however, Robin gave a final command.
"We must slip out casually- one or two at a time; we can't afford to draw attention to ourselves." As John made to go first, he added, "And keep your weapons concealed-"
"But in reach." Todd finished. Robin looked at him with surprise, and then smiled.
"That's right." Robin agreed.
Robin's men began the exodus from the prison. John went first, alone; at the last moment, Robin instructed him to return to the forest, keeping just out of sight of the North Road.
"When you reach the grove of evergreens, just near the ravines, hide and wait for me there. Then we are to go directly to where we left Rook." He felt queasy at the mention of the boy's name. "We'll have to take him from the trap, so be prepared."
Robin himself was not sure what he meant- be prepared for what? To spring the heavy metal jaws back, or to be ready with bandages? Or something worse- to prepare themselves for what they would find? Something stuck in Robin, tight like the end of a hangman's noose; he had felt it again and again since leaving Rook in the trap. In all likeliness, he thought wretchedly, the boy was dead. Or even more horrid to think of: Rook may have gone made with the pain of it.
"Someone will have to run to the camp for supplies, if we are to treat him-" Much, the miller's son began.
"No!" Todd broke in, his voice hard with certainty. "The camp..."
He seemed to think better of what he was going to say, instead replying,
"I have bandages in my pack." He explained quickly, "We mustn't waste any time in getting to him."
Robin nodded soberly, the others joining him. After John had departed, and a few more moments had passed, Much and Will Scathelock slipped out into the street. Robin and Todd waited in silence until Todd spoke.
"We can't go back to the camp, Robin. Not ever."
Robin looked into his eyes, which showed a knowing sadness.
"They found the camp."
"How could they have...?" Robin asked, the depression in his gut deepening.
"Later." Todd replied, gently. He laid a hand on the shoulder of his friend and father figure. "We should go."
The two walked from the jail with darkened thoughts, racing.
When they arrived at the grove, the other outlaws were waiting for them. Uneasiness thickened the air about them, but a small measure of relief came with the return of the last two comrades.
"Robin!" Much called, the tension in his stance lessening. The outlaws eased at the sight of their leader. They gathered around the newcomers quickly.
"I am glad you all escaped without trouble." Robin said warmly, clasping hands with his companion, and looking at them each in turn. "But we cannot stop to rest, not until we help Rook."
He did not add the rest of his thought- that Rook may be beyond help. Even if the boy lived, he would have lost so much blood...and without Rowan there to heal him...
"What are we waiting for?" Todd said, breaking him from his reverie. Robin nodded once, then gestured them to follow; he turned and set off at a careful run, hastily ducking tree limbs and leaping through the underbrush.
Todd matched him for speed. When his clothes caught on the briars, he ripped them free. He raced beside Robin, both of them breathing hard as they tore down the ravine towards the road. Robin jerked to a halt. Todd nearly ran into him at the abrupt stop.
"Why did you stop? Where is he?" Todd asked, his eyes flickering all around the wood, and back at Robin. Robin pointed ahead of them, staring at the ground a few feet away: the steel jaws of the mantrap were clamped around emptiness.
"It's empty." Robin said, hardly above a whisper. "He's gone."