A dark figure crept from the camp that night, keeping to the shadows even though the night was black without the moon to keep it company. Ivy had pulled her long, chestnut tresses up into a bun and had pulled up the hood on her black cloak, hiding her hair and her face. She wore men's clothes and gloves to keep her hands from sight. Her worn boots tread silently on the forest's carpeting as she walked away from camp. She knew where to get a horse. One of the villagers in a nearby village allowed Robin and his men to borrow horses when they needed one. Ivy chose a jet black horse, quickly tying cloth sacks onto its hooves and leading it silently out of the yard. No one in the village stirred. She mounted when she was far enough away and headed toward Knighton Manor. When she got near, she dismounted, leading her horse by foot. Just as she neared the front of the manor, she saw a figure ride out of the side yard.
She stepped forward, hailing Marian who stopped her horse short in surprise. "It's Ivy," she called out quietly. Marian relaxed, riding toward her.
"Why are you here?" she asked Ivy, pulling down the mask that hid her face.
"I wanted to help," Ivy told her. "If we divide the load, we'll get things done twice as quickly. We need to be extra careful because of the Sheriff's men."
"Yes, Robin told me about them earlier today."
"I figured he would try to dissuade you from delivering tonight."
"But that didn't stop you."
"I'm not going to let people starve just because the Sheriff has come up with a new scheme," Marian replied.
"Will you let me ride with you?" Ivy asked.
Marian pondered this for a moment. "I will, but wait just a minute." She dismounted, handing off the reins to Ivy and ran back to the manor. A minute later she returned, handing Ivy a golden mask. "It's an extra," she told her. "Wear it for safety."
Ivy smiled, slipping the mask on. "Now there will be two Night Watchmen," she said.
Marian grinned at her, mounting her horse once more. She tossed Ivy a bag loaded with food. "You take the villages west of Locksley, and I'll take the villages east. Meet back here when you're done. Then we can make sure we're both safe."
Ivy nodded. "Good luck." She turned her horse and headed west, galloping swiftly along the tree line. She made good time, slipping into one of the villages to drop off packages. She put some effort into hiding the packages – somewhere where the villagers would find them, but not so obvious that someone guarding the village might notice. She was on the last house when she heard a door open quietly, groaning a little at the hinges. She stopped what she was doing, crouching back in the shadows next to the house. Someone stepped out of one of the other houses. He looked like a villager, but Ivy saw a glint of silver at his side. One of the Sheriff's swords. She felt a stab of fear, but pushed it down when she realized he couldn't see her. His eyes scanned the village, but having hid the packages of food, Ivy had left no signs of her presence. After a moment, he retreated back into the house. She let out a sigh of relief, realizing just how hard her heart had been hammering within her chest. She finished hiding the last package and slipped silently back to where she had left her horse.
She managed to avoid any more dangers as she continue to deliver, making good time while night still darkened the sky. Locksley was her last stop. She left her horse a good distance away, slipping into the village as slowly and cautiously as she could. She looked fearfully to Locksley Hall, but all the nights were extinguished. Delivering the packages seemed to take ages. Ivy found herself jumping at any sound: chickens rustling their feathers in the hen house, horses nickering quietly to one another, a cat slinking across the path in front of her. As soon as the last package was delivered, she turned to leave. Then something stopped her. She turned to look back at Locksley Hall. Sir Guy was the Sheriff's right hand man. If there were some sort of plot to fend off Robin, then he would be involved. And he would have one of those swords.
Before Ivy had thought out what she was doing, her feet were carrying her toward Locksley Hall. She slipped the mask off her face, allowing herself to gulp in more air. She wasn't about to walk in the front door, so she positioned herself below one of the wooden beams that supported the roof. With a precise leap, she grabbed onto the beam, pulling herself soundlessly up onto it. There was a window just below. She could see that it overlooked the upstairs landing. She drew her sword and reached down to slide the blade between the windowpanes. There was a quiet clink as the lock swung free. She pushed one part of the window to the left and the other to the right before lowering herself down into the house. She left the window open so that she would have an escape route. She waited a full minute to make sure her arrival in the house had not woken anyone up. Nothing stirred, so Ivy continued forward, her well-worn boots making no noise on the wooden floors.
She knew Guy would most likely keep his sword at his side even as he slept. The thought of breaking into his bedroom while he slept was not a nice one. It was probably the most risky thing she could do, but now that she was in Locksley Hall, there was no turning back. She tried the closest door. She squeezed in before the door could open wide enough to creak and found herself in Guy's room. He was fast asleep, sprawled out on his stomach, dark hair tussled. Ivy felt a twinge of mixed emotions, but carried on, looking for his sword. She found it leaned up against the bed stand, easy to reach in case of emergency. She crept forward, cringing as one of the floor boards creaked. She stayed still for half a minute before continuing onward, step-by-step, eyes set on Guy in case he woke up. She hoped he wasn't a light sleeper. She was almost within reach of the sword when he sighed, turning over in his sleep so that he faced the opposite wall. Ivy felt her heart nearly seize up. She grabbed the sword, amazed by its lightness, and turned to head back into the hall.
She had almost made it to the door when there came a terrific crash from behind her. She whirled around. It seemed as if the sword had been balanced up against another sword, and the second had now crashed to the floor without the support of the first. Throwing caution to the wind, Ivy fled the room. She heard Guy awaken behind her, on his feet faster than she would have expected. She had to protect the sword. She dashed toward the window. She knew she wouldn't have enough time to make it out herself, so she hurled the sword out the window and latched it. Then she fled toward the stairs. Guy was right behind her.
Ivy hurled herself over the banister, but she stepped wrong, falling awkwardly on her ankle and crying out in pain. She tried to get up, but her leg would no longer support her, and Guy was upon her. He grabbed her by the collar, pulling her up to face him. His face was livid, and Ivy was terrified to see his reaction when he learned who she was. For all he knew, she was long gone, never to return to Nottingham. After all he'd risked, he would not be pleased to see her back and robbing his house.
"One of Robin Hood's men," Guy said, roughly grabbing the tag she wore around her neck. "What on earth were you after?" he asked, seeing that she was empty handed. "Speak!" He shook her, and she winced, her ankle smarting painfully.
"Nothing," she replied quietly.
"You broke into my house in the middle of the night for nothing?" he asked, disbelievingly.
"I didn't get what I was after," she said.
"And what were you after?"
Ivy's mind whirled. She had to come up with something believable before he noticed his sword was missing. "Gold. To feed the poor."
"Of course, always thinking of the poor."
"You'd do well to do so too. You let your own people starve." Her anger was rising, and she accidently let slip something valuable.
"A woman," Guy said curiously at the sound of her raised voice. "Let's see who you really are." Guy tugged her hood and it fell from her head, revealing her face. His eyes widened in disbelief. "I don't believe it."