A/N: Here it is.
Sword: More action!
Pen: And the last chapter thankfully.
Sword: Awww. Just when I was getting geared up for crazy stuff.
As always, Silver, Blaze, and all related characters and material belong to Sega. Sword and Pen belong to me. The Robin Hood parts and excerpts from the story belong to H.E. Marshall. And Arcantos belong to Tempest of Reach, who we would like to thank for using. There won't be any ending notes, as we think it would detract from the ending. We'd like to thank Tempest of Reach, WingedArcher1, Mew Aqua Spirit, Ember The Flame Guardian, ERA OF ERICK, blazethecoolcat, and the anonymous Guest person. Thank you for all your support during this everyone!
Sword: Hurry! We need to find out what Silver's up to! Get to the story!
Chapter 8- Robin and Marion
"Shut the gate!"
Blaze heard heavy pounding. It sounded like an entire army swarming around her. She was vaguely aware of the galloping shots to her ribs or that she was hanging limply from a horse.
"What's going on?" someone asked. "Princess! Princess Blaze!" Two large eyes were in front of her. The person continued to call her name, hoping to receive a response. "Princess! Princess, what happened?"
Silver. Blaze's ears twitched. Silver had proposed and she had been snatched away. Silver and Drouet. Silver. "Silver," she mumbled.
She twirled in the air around as the horse's reins were yanked. "Yes, Silver is leading a revolt!" She knew that voice. Lord Alans. He was keeping her from making eye contact with any of the surrounding people. "The fugitive attacked the princess and means to usurp the throne! I grabbed Princess Blaze and came here. But he is coming. We saw him leading the peasants and other lords here! So close the gate! Close it!"
The crank wheel chattered as the drawbridge was raised and the heavy wooden gate door closed. Blaze could see clearly now that soldiers were all around, armed and looking toward Lord Alans. One ventured forth. "That doesn't sound like Silver. He swore to protect the princess above all else."
"But he has gone mad with power," Alans said. "He entered the tournament and lost. He thinks that he still should win the throne and Princess Blaze. He's insane!"
"It's true," Wincott said. "Saw the whole thing, didn't we lads?"
Wincott and Alans' men all murmured in agreement. Blaze struggled to lift her head. She had to intervene. She had to dispel these lies about Silver.
The soldier was unsure. "I don't know."
"Hey!" Blaze rolled her head to the side, the blood rushing to her head. A frantic soldier was waving through one of the dozen openings in the ceiling. "There's an army on the horizon! Soldiers and peasants! They're armed to the teeth!"
"You see?" Alans said. "Silver is coming to finish the job! You must protect the castle! We'll find a safe place for the princess. Hurry! Hurry now!" The soldiers trampled over themselves to get into position. Blaze groaned, reaching out for her nearest guard. Alans slipped off his horse and threw her over his shoulder. She watched her soldiers disappear as Alans, Wincott, and all their men raced further into the castle.
"Woah, woah." Silver halted his horse at the edge of the castle's moat. He studied the raised drawbridge. Then he caught sight of the true danger. Among the parapets to the sides and arrow loops in the walls, he saw reflective glints in the last vestiges of sunlight. Lining the thick ramparts, there was hints of soldiers, waiting for any attack.
Stewart pulled up beside Silver. He saw the trouble as well. "What do you think? Alans' men?"
"No," Silver said. "They wouldn't be this prepared. Not this quickly. These are our people." He trotted forward and cupped his hands to his mouth. "Lower the drawbridge! Princess Blaze's life is in peril!" He was answered with silence.
"Guess Alans got to them," Stewart said. "What now?"
"We have to cross and quickly," he said. He examined the castle walls, searching for any flaw. He knew there was none. He had scanned the wall himself many times, laying out every contingency and helping the guards build plans around any exploitative weakness. The only way around the wall was to lower the drawbridge. But that would mean swimming through the moat, completely defenseless and at the mercy of the archers, to slip in the narrow space where the bridge did not quite meet the wall.
"You can't make it," Brimble said, catching on to Silver's line of thinking. "Not in your condition."
"I'm not in any condition to fight either, but here I am," Silver said. He did not have the strength to create a telekinetic shield. Maybe he could strap a buckler to his back.
"I'll do it. I'm a pretty fast," someone piped up. Arcantos leapt forward, devoid of armor except for a shield attached to his back. Before anyone could stop him, he dove into the water. Immediately, a hail of arrows rained down upon him. He paddled hard through the deadly shower. Arrows clanged off his shield, but he kept his head low. Some of the better archers on the ground took potshots at the defensive side, momentarily driving those attacking Arcantos away. Arcantos reached the other side, slipping in between the gate and bridge.
There was a thump! followed by a creak! crick! crank! Then the drawbridge slowly fell forward, hitting the ground with a muffled boom! From the top, Arcantos rolled back to the waiting group, somersaulting until he collided against Silver's horse. He spread himself out, panting heavily. A stray arrow's tip jutted out of his leg.
"See?" he said, breathing heavily. "Piece of cake."
Silver slipped off his horse, picked up Arcantos, and handed him to a few peasants. "Take him somewhere safe!" he ordered. "Thank you," he said to Arcantos as the wolf was whisked away.
The soldiers above were running around, screaming and yelling to raise the bridge. Silver dismounted his horse and stood on the bridge. Stewart, Brimble, Slate, and dozens of knights mimicked him, adding their weight to the bridge. They raised their shields as another volley of arrows soared through the air.
Silver examined their new obstacle: the gate. If the drawbridge was sturdy, the gate was unbreakable. There were no cracks to slip through this time. They needed to climb over the gate.
A great galloping hoard of infantry approached Silver's group. Leading the charge was Gardon. A welcome sight indeed, but even more so were the grappling hooks and ladders some of the joining soldiers carried.
"Figured you would need these," Gardon said. The soldiers above notched their bows and fired downwards. Several men were injured and plenty of the peasants fled behind the better armored soldiers.
"We do! Get them set up quickly!" Silver said.
"You heard him! Hop to it!" Gardon yelled.
Silver's archers covered the soldiers as they threw up grappling hooks and raised the ladders. Slate sped up one of the dangling ropes, reaching the top in the blink of an eye. Several faster soldiers were right behind him as Silver and the rest took to the ladders.
Along the way, Silver watched several defending soldiers drop into the moat. When he arrived at the top, Slate was at the center of the action. He wielded two knives, cutting sword sheaths off and kicking enemies aside. He even scared off one poor soul that voluntarily leapt off the wall.
Brimble joined in soon after. He picked up two soldiers and bashed their heads together. "Get going! We'll hold them here!" he said. He flung another soldier into a spearman.
"Let's move!" Silver said. He hobbled along toward the bottom floor. His side was splitting open. Have to keep moving, he told himself. At the bottom, Gardon raised the gate, allowing the rest of the attacking army to pour inside.
Blaze heard the creak of the gate. Unfortunately, so did Alans. "Blast it all, they're inside," he said. "Hurry! We have to find that chapel!"
At that point, having fully awoken and been relieved of her armor for her regular clothes, Blaze was being dragged along. She did not dare to put up a fight. Not while Wincott carried a knife in one hand and Drouet over his shoulder. But when they ran into two guards scurrying toward the commotion, she tried to warn them of the impending danger.
Yet helmets provide tunnel vision in addition to protection. So not only could the guards not see Blaze's gesticulation, they could not see Wincott's men sneak up from behind. "Hey! Where are you taking the pri-" was all one of them could get out before big arms wrapped around their necks. They were unconscious within the minute.
"You two," Alans said, snapping his fingers. Two of his smaller men stood in front of him. Alans had appointed half of his detachment to stay behind in the dining hall, ready to stall the intruders. "Take their armor, then lock them up somewhere. After that, go make some friends." The two soldiers smirked and bowed.
Blaze was yanked down the hallway. She prayed Silver would spot the imposters before they struck.
A shockingly large number of soldiers were waiting for Silver and his group in the dining hall. Thankfully, given the large area, there was plenty of room to avoid friendly fire. Blaze's soldiers had already been thinned out, as most were being handled at the gate. So only a few were intermingling with Alans and Wincott's men.
Silver and those who had accompanied him further into the castle were enough of a match. Both sides came out swinging, climbing over or using furniture during the fight.
Silver himself faced down two tough soldiers. One stabbed with a spear. The other slashed with a sword. Silver clung to a nearby tapestry and swung high above them. When he came back for a pass, he traded quick blows. One of the soldiers tore a hole in the tapestry on one pass.
Fearing for the fabric's strength, Silver glided into the air. He swooped low like a bird, circling the deadly pair. Round and round he went, smothering them in the soft red folds. When he finished, they were wrapped tighter than a gift. Silver punched one, then the other. They fell to the ground.
Two more soldiers charged him. Silver cut loose the tapestry, then kicked it forward. The wrapped pair cursed and whined as they tumbled forward. Crash! They bowled over the attacking pair. All they was left was a tangled mess of bodies and velvet cloth.
Silver located Stewart and Gardon among the combatants. Stewart thrust his sword at one soldier. The soldier blocked, but Gardon whacked the soldier with a chair. Silver stood back-to-back with them, each facing an enemy.
"We have to get to Blaze!" he said, staving off a soldier. "We can't waste time on these guys!"
"Agreed!" Gardon said. He caught his opponent's sword high, then stole it for himself. After scaring away the soldier, he rallied several of their troops. "To us! Hurry!"
Silver led the way again, twisting and turning through the castle's large interior. The battle behind them faded away into dim clashes. When they were nearing a fork, two of Blaze's guards rushed to them. Silver held his sword at the ready, but the soldiers babbled and fell over one another before him.
"You have to help!" one cried.
"He's got the princess!" the other said. "He can't be stopped!"
"Don't worry. We'll stop him," Silver said, helping them up. "Come with us."
The two soldiers fell in line behind Silver. Down the hall, the group ran. Silver was spurred on more and more with each passing moment. Each moment that Blaze was in danger. Each moment that Blaze did not have to spare. His side screamed for him to stop, but there was nothing on the entire planet that could stand between him and Blaze at that point.
"Look out!" Gardon pushed Silver aside. The two soldiers that had tagged along had drawn their swords and swung at Silver. Gardon fended off one attack and took the other in his stomach. He roared and fell to the ground.
Silver attacked the two immediately. Up, low, wide open, stab to the leg for one. The other, after seeing his friend lose, was timid in his fighting. Silver easily disarmed him and kicked him to the ground. Two of Silver's troops took the soldiers away, then he tended to Gardon.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"I'll be fine," Gardon said, holding his stomach. His hands covered the wound. "He didn't do much. Ooo." He leaned over and Silver beckoned over one of his troops.
"Take him to the infirmary," he said. The soldier hopped to the task and whisked Gardon away.
Then there was only Silver and Stewart, supported by a small group of fighters. Silver pushed everyone forward to the chapel. They were nearly there. They had to hurry.
"Where is the priest?" Alans said, thundering about. He held Blaze close to him, his sword pressed against her stomach. Wincott stood behind the two, watching the doorway. One of Alans' men stood off to the side, weeping nonstop. Alans turned to him and sneered. "What are you blubbering about?"
"Sorry," the soldier said, wiping his tear-stained cheeks. He buried his face in a handkerchief. "I just love weddings."
Alans rolled his eyes. Through the side door, a man dressed in black and white robes was shoved in by a pair of hands. "Fine, fine! No need to be pushy."
"Finally," Alans said. "We wish to be married, priest. Immediately."
The priest opened his heavy tome upon the altar before the pair. "Do you have witnesses?" he asked.
Alans pointed to Wincott and the bawling man in the corner. "Very well, do you have the rings?"
"We do not need rings."
"Have you settled on any pre-marital arrangements?" He suddenly found the point of a sword right between his eyes.
"You're stalling," Alans said. "Get a move on."
The priest looked to Blaze. "I'm sorry Your Highness."
"It's quite alright," Blaze said. "Don't worry. Silver will be along any minute now."
"Oh, I highly doubt that," Alans said, sheathing his sword. He turned to the priest. "Today, if you would."
The priest hung his head and flipped through his tome. He hurried to the right page when Alans started to draw his sword again. The priest cleared his throat and addressed the bare-bones audience. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to bring these two together in holy matrimony."
When being ambushed by a gang of armored men wielding maces, swords, and axes, one does not usually focus on how they managed to climb to the roof or how they hid behind the buttresses and archways. Yet the stray thought did pass through Silver's mind as he fought off a maniac brandishing a battle ax. The ax-wielder chopped empty air nonstop, realizing too late that Silver was behind him. Silver kicked the foe into several others.
Alans' men fought well. But they were no match for Silver and his troops. He fended off another soldier, clashing swords above their heads. Silver twisted, turned, and brought their swords low. Stewart appeared behind the soldier. "Hi," the lizard said, then delivered a right hook to the soldier's exposed face.
"Go on!" one of Silver's men waved to him. "We can handle this!"
Silver and Stewart nodded and sprinted the rest of the way to the chapel. Up they went, clearing four flights of stairs and skipping several at a time. It was not very long before they reached the door. Almost there. Now they needed to zip through the foyer, the hall, and they would be in the sanctuary.
Yet they were impeded at the foyer. Wincott stood before the sanctuary, a dark guardian of malice that dared them to come closer. His long knife was accompanied by a smaller, curved one. He flipped both around constantly, looking from one face to the other. "Sorry, but we don't tolerate wedding crashers," he said.
Silver stepped forward, but Stewart held him back. "I'll handle him. You go to the princess."
"You sure?" Silver asked. Wincott ran his fingers over the tip of his blades.
"Yes," Stewart said. "I owe him anyway."
"As do I," Wincott said. He laughed. "Yes, go on ahead, Locksley. I'm certain that Lord Alans can handle you in your state."
Silver looked down. A trail of crimson slipped beneath the cracks of his armor. The stitches had failed. The open wound's burning was catching up to him. He had to end this quickly. Standing tall, he jogged toward the sanctuary side door, leaving the two knights alone.
"No one to help you cheat this time," Stewart said, holding his sword at the ready.
"But this is my best field." Wincott deftly twirled his knives. Then he briefly rubbed his chest. "I'll pay you back for that last lance."
Stewart carried his sword defensively. He stared Wincott down for several tense moments, then rushed him. He swung. Wincott clanged his longer knife off the sword. Then the smaller knife swiped at Stewart's elbow. The blade sliced into the armor crease on Stewart's joint.
"There's plenty more where that came from," Wincott said. He stabbed with the longer knife. Stewart blocked and kicked him in the stomach. Wincott reeled back as Stewart took the offensive. Low, high, low, high, high to throw off balance. Stewart went for the knees. He cut deep into Wincott's thigh.
The dog stumbled. He straightened his leg and circled Stewart slowly. Howling, he ran back in chopping frantically.
"Now do you, Lord Alans, take Princess Blaze as your lawfully wedded wife?"
"I do," Alans said.
The priest turned dejectedly to Blaze. "And do you, Princess Blaze-"
"I object!" Silver said, bursting through the sanctuary's side door.
The priest snapped his tome shut. "We actually hadn't reached that part, but your timing is impeccable nonetheless." Then he disappeared from the room at a full sprint.
Alans held Blaze tighter. He pressed his sword further into her gut. "One step closer and she will have more than an upset stomach." When Silver complied, he turned to his remaining guard. "What are you waiting for? Go get him!"
Yet the guard was a broken mess. His helmet long ago discarded, he went through several tissues and his handkerchiefs, wailing and sobbing. Alans stuck his tongue out, disgusted by the amount of snot dripping from the guard's nose. "Useless fool. Go watch Drouet then."
"Where is she?" Silver and Blaze asked as the guard left.
"Oh, a few of my men are watching her," Alans said. "She's safe for now. Not another step forward!" He pointed the sword at Silver, then returned it to Blaze. "I will do it! I will! First her, then Drouet!"
From Alans' view, he could only see over Blaze's shoulder. Hence why he did not notice the building, swirling orange and yellow vortex in her palm. Silver did and caught her eye. She gave an imperceptible nod and he moved closer once more. Alans did not withdraw his sword from Blaze. "Don't! I will do it!"
Everything happened so fast. Blaze punched Alans full in the face with her fireball, searing him badly. He screamed, clutching his face with his free hand. Then the sword jammed into her stomach. It pierced through, from one side to the other. Blaze's mouth hung open as she fell backwards, the sword pulling out along the way.
Silver dashed and caught her in the nick of time. He gently laid her on the ground. It doesn't look bad, he told himself. The sword has missed the middle, stabbing her in the ribs. He pressed her hands against the hole. "Put pressure on it," he whispered. "It's not that bad." It's not that bad. It's not that bad.
"Liar," she said, choking out the word through a smile. She squeezed her eyes shut.
"You-You insolent, little- agh!" Silver turned to Alans. Half of his face was singed black. Trails of embers and small fires crackled in his fur. His eye rested in the middle of the smoking fur, completely bloodshot. His snarling lips trembled as he grinded his teeth. "Ragh!" he yelled again, touching his face and yanking his hand away. "You will die!"
Alans brought his sword high. Silver picked up his own weapon and met him. The two swords clashed, barely above Blaze. Silver was slipping, the pressure too great to keep at bay. He directed Alans' sword to the side, then shoved him away from Blaze.
No time was wasted in build-up or anticipation. Alans attacked mercilessly, never pausing. Clang! High blow. Silver stumbled backwards over a pew. Whiish! A cut to the middle that missed by a hair's width. Whang! The sword bounced off Silver's armor, but aggravated his ripped side. Now he was backed up against the wall. He had to take control.
Concentrating as hard as he could, Silver halted Alans' sword. The sharp weapon glowed with a faint hue, still moving ever so slowly. Alans was overpowering the weak hold. Silver acted quickly. He picked up a pew via his other tinted glove. Alans did not even have time to dodge as the sturdy wooden seat became a baseball bat for his baseball head.
As Alans rolled to the other side of the room, Silver collapsed. He gasped, holding onto his side. The fire. The horrible, earth-spinning, unbearable fire that sprang from the open gash. More ruby trails dribbled down his armor. He wiped away the stains, smearing the iron finish.
"What's the matter, Locksley? Or is it Silver?" Alans asked, taunting Silver. He stood up, his nosebleed cascading down the charred fur. "Having a bit of trouble there? Well you know what they say about cheating!" On the last word, Alans ran forward. He punched Silver with the hilt of his sword. He raised his sword high to deliver a killing blow.
Silver would have none of it. He caught the sword with his own. Clang! Clang! The sparks flashed as the swords met in their deadly tango. Back and forth, the metal sang the violent duet of two combatants gripped in their struggle. Silver swung low, missing the feet. He ducked the incoming swipe at his face.
Grabbing his faithful pew again, Silver slid it at Alans' feet. The cat was agile this time, hopping over the seat and managing a high strike. The pew hit the wall as Alans cut Silver's shoulder.
Swipe! Whang! Woosh! Whang! Left to right. Right to left. Wincott would not stop swinging. Stewart hardly had room to maneuver around each attack. Although the knives continued to hit solid rock and stone on the walls, they were not dulled in the slightest. Every time, Wincott came nearer to hitting his mark.
Stewart twirled away from another chop of the longer knife. Wincott hurled the long knife at him. Stewart spotted a nearby painting. He jerked it off the wall and held it in front of him. The knife ripped through the mouth of the some noble or royalty in the painting, acting as an iron tongue that almost met Stewart's lips. Luckily, the hilt stopped at the frame. He hung the painting back in its place and tipped his fingers to the royal man. "Thanks."
Wincott stabbed with his smaller knife. "After this," he huffed, weaving around Stewart's attacks, "I'll be famous for besting the great Stewart. Even if you are past your prime."
"Some legacy," Stewart said, nicking Wincott's arm. "Having to say you had trouble with a man twice your age? Not very terrifying, is it? 'Wincott, the Geriatric Slayer' doesn't really strike fear into the heart." He received a cut on his neck. "Maybe you can frighten some school children with that?"
Wincott growled and headbutted Stewart. The lizard reeled back, tripping over his feet. Then Wincott leapt into the air, roaring for all his worth. Stewart caught the dog on his feet and pushed him back. There was a brief antagonized shout before a gasp, then a defeated sigh.
Stewart propped himself up. Wincott was hanging in mid-air, supported on the weight of his long knife sticking through him. The painting's hook snapped and crashed to the floor. Wincott tumbled away from the painting, the knife still embedded in his torso. Stewart rolled the body over, checked for a pulse, and found none.
"May you at least find peace," he said, closing Wincott's eyes. He propped the painting up on a nearby bench and saluted it once more. "That's two I owe you now."
Alans knocked Silver to the ground. He hammered down on the hedgehog, coming closer and closer to knocking the sword away. Before Silver's grasp failed, a fireball struck Alans in the side. He growled and turned away from his opponent to find Blaze, whose hand fell back to the ground.
Kicking Silver in the side, Alans limped over to Blaze. "You are more trouble than you're worth," he said. "I think instead of putting up with you, I believe my back-up plan will suffice. Shouldn't be hard to claim you attacked me first after all," he said, smiling and showing off his burned visage. "Especially when you cannot refute it!" He raised his sword.
"No!" Silver shakily lurched toward Blaze and caught the blow on the down stroke. Alans pushed his sword as far as he could.
Silver's weight was on top of Blaze as he used his hands to keep the flat of his sword up against Alans'. She hissed, but Silver could not move. He was using all his effort to hold the stalemate.
He searched around, desperate for anything to help. He spotted the podium. Daring to stretch out his fingers, Silver's hand glowed. He curled, straightened, and used every ounce of remaining strength in him to lift the podium.
Alans caught on to Silver. As the podium flew by, he ducked and cackled merrily. "Did you really think I would fall for that again?"
"Nope," Silver said, gritting his teeth. The pain was intense, but so was the crack as a wooden chair flew into Alans' head. Silver rolled off of Blaze and bowed on one knee. He clung to his sword, steadying on it. His head drooped. He was at his limit.
"You miserable vermin!" Alans was back on his feet, glaring at Silver. "You shall suffer a slow, arduous death. You will grovel for the end before I am through with you!" He lifted his sword mightily and charged, abandoning all form and stance for a barbaric attack.
Silver twitched his hand. A chair moved a few feet in front of Alans. He leapt over it, nearly clearing the furniture. But his foot tipped the chair over. Alans stumbled into Silver, who fended him off with a clumsy, spinning parry. Alans fell against the pew that had hit him earlier, and toppled out the window.
There was a scream that intensified rather than faded. Then a thump. Silver could not rush to the window. He fell where he stood, dropping his sword.
Blaze. Silver turned to her. She was still. Corpse-like even. He grabbed handfuls of the floor and dragged himself over. She was breathing, but slowly, faintly. He touched her hand. She opened her eyes ever so slightly and smiled.
"Hey," she whispered.
"Hey," he said. "We won."
"Congratulations, Sir Locksley." She paused, a momentary flash flickering in her eyes. Blaze chuckled, wincing. "Locksley. I should have known."
"I would do anything for you," Silver said. He closed his eyes. "Marion." He passed into the unconscious realms, not privy to her toothy grin turning into a worried one or Blaze and Stewart calling his name.
A body was fussing about above. There was a restraint, across the chest and head. And cold. A very cold object was dabbing spots. Silver mumbled. He struggled to crack open an eyelid. When he managed to, he saw a blurry figure standing over him. The person slowly focused, shaping into a nurse.
"Oh, good. You're awake," the nurse said. "It was touch and go for a little while there."
"Where-Where am I?" Silver asked. He looked down. Bandages of every shape, size, and dressing covered his body.
"The infirmary," the nurse said. "You've been here for two days. Good thing Sir Stewart and the others got you two here lickety-split. Who knows what would have happened otherwise?"
Stewart. Others. Happened. Silver had trouble processing all the information. But he did jump on one part of her statement. Two. "Where's Blaze?" he asked, rising up. He spun around, checking the beds to his sides. "Is she okay? Where is she?"
"She's fine, she's fine," the nurse said, pushing him back down. "She's in the other room actually. As soon as the doctor takes a look at you, you can go see her, alright?"
He swung his legs over the side of the bed. "Which room?" he asked, hobbling away.
The nurse ran after him, trying to lead him back to bed. As Silver exited the room, he saw Arcantos wandering up and down the halls of the infirmary. The white wolf was using a crutch and shouting at every room. "I want to know who got my leg! I won't kill you. Only strangle you a little! Fess up if you know what's good for you!"
Silver walked down the hall, checking the other rooms. Nearby, he arrived at another room full of hospital beds like his. In the center, off to the side, was Blaze. She was asleep, donned in a hospital gown like him. Silver slipped out of the nurse's pleading grasp and half-limped, half-ran over to Blaze. He pulled up a seat and sat down.
He laid his chin on his fists, resting his arms on top of her sheets. Blaze stirred, blinking rapidly. When she saw him, she smiled. "Good afternoon," she said weakly.
"Good afternoon," he said. He reached for her hand and squeezed it. "How are you feeling?"
"Better," she said, lifting her gown. Her ribs were heavily patched up. "You?"
"With all your bandages, maybe we should change your name to White," she said, laughing.
He grinned. "How's everyone else doing?"
"Gardon is up and around somewhere. Brimble and Slate got to Drouet in time thankfully. As for Lord Alans and Sir Wincott, well…" She left the answer in the air.
Silver nodded and laid his head on the side of her bed. Blaze scratched behind his ears. He purred softly. "So, are the judges holding up their decision?"
"Yes," she said.
"Well, we don't have time to waste then," he said. "That is, if you still-"
"I do." She leaned over, meeting him halfway for a kiss. "I really do." Sparks exploded in Silver's mouth. He was ready and rejuvenated to take on as many fights as necessary. That is, if her soft lips had not enticed him to melt where he sat. Blaze drew her head back, but Silver was not prepared to end the kiss. He followed that inviting, tantalizing mouth into her hospital bed.
Blaze shrieked as he pecked her cheek. "Silver!" She calmed down as he wrapped his arms around her as best as possible.
"Me too," he said. "Hey, we're a pair." He pointed at his side that melded into one large dressing with hers.
She shook her head and chuckled. "Well, you are always attached to my hip," she said as their lips met.
The early morning sun was shining brightly over the castle. A cloud had threatened to drench the world in a downpour earlier, but retreated not too long ago. For that, nature was rejoicing. Butterflies freely pirouetted on the waving wind. A bird chirped in a tree. It received a call from a possible mate and answered the call promptly. The bird flew off, scattering several leaves down into the garden below.
Silver flicked one of those leaves out of his quills. Then he held up his sword. "How about we take a break after this round?" Sweat was pouring down his face. He had never imagined Blaze had such energy. He could only imagine Blaze's ribs ached as immensely as his.
Blaze nodded and held her own sword up. "Ready," she said.
"Begin," Silver said. She jabbed forward, and he countered. "Left, left, parry! Right, high, stab, retract! Good!" She followed his commands to the letter, matching his movements as if they were one.
When Silver finished, they both sat on the bench, laying their swords to the side. "You're really coming along," he said. "I'm impressed."
"Thank you," she said. "I had a good teacher."
"Speaking of which, I think it's time you paid your fee for this lesson," Silver said. He puckered his mouth. Blaze shoved him playfully, but kissed him all the same. They sat together on the bench for a while, his arm holding her against his chest.
"You know," Blaze said, turning her eyes upwards at his, "we never did finish the story."
"Well, I don't have the book on me-"
She rummaged around the box of disassembled dummies, armor, and extra weapons near the bench. She thrust a package into Silver's hands. "I wanted to give you this afterwards, but it seems like a good time now."
He tore open the perfectly wrapped package. In the center of the ripped paper was a leather cover, its title painted in red ink. "The Adventures of Robin Hood," Silver read. He flipped through the pages. First edition, written in faded faux parchment. "Where did you-how did you-?"
"I have my ways," Blaze said. She leaned into his chest fur and he cracked open the book. He resumed where they had left off, allowing Blaze to read Marion's parts- the reason being that Silver, in her opinion, sounded like a "crabby old woman" when he attempted to imitate any feminine voice.
As the sun rose higher overhead and they finished the book, Gardon and Stewart approached the couple. Gardon smiled and clasped his hands behind his back. "Should've known you two would be here. Working off some energy? Jitters perhaps?"
Silver eyed Blaze and grinned. "Something like that."
"Well, you had better hurry up and change. Bad luck to see her prior to it all, you know."
"I think with all we have been through, we can take on any bad luck," Blaze said.
"Drouet is waiting for you in your room, Your Highness. And Brimble and Slate are waiting in yours," Stewart said, bowing to Blaze, then Silver in turn.
"Thank you," Blaze said. "How is your family?"
"They've settled in. My wife insists on inviting the two of you for dinner this week."
"We would love to."
"Great," Stewart said, smiling. "And thank you once again. If you'll excuse me, I should return to my post."
Blaze's feet fidgeted as if she were trying to kick off her shoes. "We'll be along in a few minutes," Silver said to Gardon. He walked away as well. When they were alone again, Silver asked, "Still ansty?"
"Yes," Blaze said. "It's a new experience after all."
"I'll be there to face it with you," he said. "It'll be a great adventure."
"Already ready to go on another one after your last, Robin Hood?" she asked teasingly.
Silver embraced her tighter. "And I'll always be your Robin Hood."
She pecked his cheek. "As I will be your Maid Marion."
"Always and forever." He leaned in close.
The book, splayed our across their laps, featured a lovingly rendered sketch. Robin and Marion, donned in their best garments, stood before the crowd of spectators, before God and everyone, holding one another in a passionate kiss. Friar Tuck presided over the ceremony and flowers were thrown on the newlyweds. Beneath the picture, emboldened in painstaking swirls, was the last part of the story:
Robin and Marion lived together for a long, long time and were very, very happy. They lived so happily together, and loved each other so much, that "to love like Robin Hood and Maid Marion" came to be a proverb.