Much sat in Nottingham prison, head in hands, feeling the familiar wetness of bitter tears on his face.

It had been two and a half years since Much the Miller's Son had watched his master ride away from him into the dusk of early morning. And still he remembered it word for word, every smell, touch, sight, and sound. It was the one thing that had not been taken away from him.

He had never gotten the Saracen shield Robin promised him. What he got instead was a messenger from King Richard himself, a fat fellow who bobbed onto Bonchurch's front stoop, delivered the news breathlessly, and darted away again. News of the capture of Cyprus and the fall of many good Englishmen. One good Englishman in particular.

When Edward had been ousted and the new sheriff installed at Nottinghamshire, Much had done what he could to stop the injustices he had witnessed. And it had landed him here, waiting for early morning and the beat of the drum and the rope that would silence him for good.

The merry jangle of the prison keys echoed down the passage as the warden came to fetch him, followed by two black-clad guards. The warden sneered as Much clambered slowly to his feet. "Stage fright, my lord? Don't want to die?"

"I don't actually care," Much told him dully. "I've been dead for two and a half years already."