20th October 1191
I like to think that there was a shred of humanity left in Luke and he felt a slight ounce of remorse as we left for Derby. After all, he knew that it was a doomed journey.
Thinking back, I do recall there being something slightly off about his person but we were all far too caught up in the excitement to further this.
As of late, many a journey was typically filled with an odd emotion. Certainly not that of boredom but something similar. More likely it was simply a sense of normality as everything was simply another job. This reminded me of almost three years ago when we were new outlaws, all a buzz over the idea of the adventures that surely awaited us.
"I have a good feeling about this," Much said cheerily as he practically skipped along the forest trail. Thomas glared at him for the mere fact that his enthusiastic skipping almost knocked him mid swig from his flask. But his spirits could not stay damped for long. Even after Mark stole the said flask which normally would have resulted in blood. Sharing was never amongst the good qualities of those two.
Much's good mood was most probably due to more than simply our sudden unexplainable miraculous understanding of that cryptic nightmare. After all, Keighley was once again available and full of a deep loathing for Robin. He could not wait to use to his advantage.
"Actually," he continued, "I feel so good, I thinking I have to sing about." The agonized groans from the rest of the gang sent many a startled bird in flight from the restful trees. But this new positive attitude came with a new quality of dedication and Much decided that singing would be appropriate despite the possible threat to his life. Thankfully, he was aware of his lack of skill in this field and ran over to Michael for a little assistance.
Michael never missed an opportunity to sing and belted out, "hi did idly din, today we're going to win." There was minimal melody and lyrics to this made up song. In fact, that one simple line was simply repeated over and over. Much cottoned on fast and joined in enthusiastically. Will had his dagger poised at the ready, which was obviously the feeling of most others present.
Eventually Roger leant over and sung "Hi did idly dunch, your face I'm going to punch" and they ceased instantly.
Even after the blasted singing ceased, merriment continued. Nothing as loud and annoying but everyone was still happily conversing and it made the trip all the shorter thankfully. Before we knew it, the sight of Derby was before us.
That Church was supposed to hold the answer. What we were greeted with was a complete chaotic mess. It seemed that the Sheriff was never one for subtly as the building had clearly been ransacked. All traces of merriment were instantly gone as everyone's faces slowly dropped with the realisation.
Everyone except Ben that is. He may have grown in this past year but he was still a little naive lad at times and he did not realise that the Church was not meant to have this appearance. "Shall we get searching then?" he said happily, before pausing after noticing the sudden change of all else present.
"No need" Robin said. "I was here before. It may have been abandoned but it was in perfect condition."
So many different emotions spanned the room at that point. But I can safely say that everyone universally wished for someone to explain.
"You were here before?" Bryce said slowly. "So why did you not get the document?"
"Because it is not here," Robin said. "We have a spy amongst us and I had to see if they planned on telling the Sheriff if we ever tracked it down. I was hoping they wouldn't."
Luke could feel himself sweating in panic. Everyone was looking around for signs of a betrayer.
"Well can I just point out that it's not me," Much said.
"It's not me," Mark added.
"Or me" said Greg.
Everyone began to plea their innocence desperately when Robin yelled "Stop! I know who it is."
He turned and looked to Luke.
There was a sharp intake of breath around the room and many a hand was flung to a weapon. "You can't think that it would me," Luke sputtered out but he knew it was useless.
Keighley stepped forward "I followed you the other day. I saw you talk to the Sheriff."
He turned to her sharply. "Will you, for the love of God, be silent you stupid tart!"
Much stepped forward, as menacingly as he could. John swished his quarterstaff so that it blocked Much's path. Initially I thought this was an act of kindness but upon later thinking, I could see that John wished to be the one who would punish the traitor.
"Just tell me why" Robin said, trying desperately to remain calm.
"Why?" Gisbourne killed my brother. By being on the Sheriffs side I am making sure he gets the punishment he deserves."
"You did all this to get back at Gisbourne?" Robin asked, getting angry.
"Don't pretend like he doesn't deserve it" Luke yelled. "You can be such a hypocrite at times. When Gisbourne took Marian from you, you would have done anything to stop him. Well he took Matthew from me. And no one cares. Right now you are judging me because of my hate but you would have done the exact same thing!"
"I would never betray my friends," Robin yelled.
"You have tried to kill him. You are a fool. I shall make him suffer. I can assure you it will not be quick."
"Stop pretending you did this for Matthew. I found where you put your stash. But don't worry, as you obviously care nothing for it, I took it off your hands."
"How dare you. I earned that!"
"By betraying your friends!"
Luke stopped yelling and looked around at the gang. "Really?" he asked. "Friends? How many of you have avoided me this past year? How many of you even asked me how I was coping? You could all see that I was suffering and you all ignored me. Well if we are all such good friends, who will speak for me now? How many of you will demand that I deserve a second chance?"
No one moved. He looked each of them in the eye but they all looked away or were unable to hold his gaze.
"Great friends" Luke said and turned to leave. Will grabbed him and shoved him
into the wall. "You are not going anywhere. You have been selling our secrets. I say we teach him a lesson." The dark anger resulted in one terrified traitor. Will, Roger and John were all ready to hurt or maybe even kill him. Everyone else cheered them on.
"Leave him" Robin yelled at them. "He's not worth it."
They released him and there was silence.
It was strange after all the shouting that had just happened. His footsteps echoed as our old friend ran out into the rain.
He had entered an outlaw.
He left a traitor.
The esteemed words of the Sheriff of Nottingham
16th October 1191
An odd sight greeted me earlier this evening. I did not mind this. I always loved the image of a defeated outlaw. That pathetic outlaw spy charged through my door, sopping wet and dripping all over my fine new rug. Completely inconsiderate. I never learnt his name. I probably should, now that he shall be working for me.
He clearly expected anger from me. Anger was the least he deserved after the waste of my precious time. But I think a small part of me knew he would fail me so I daren't have had high hopes.
Those perfectly amazing detection skills of mine proved well as I knew that something was not right. Faces can speak a thousand works without uttering a sound and his face was radiating desperation. It was delicious.
There was still his punishment to think of. But could I possibly add to a man clearly so low?
Of course I could
I enjoyed it too.
With one small gesture from me, one of my guards (of whom I also do not know the name) punched him hard in the stomach. He looked to me for approval and one small raise of my left eyebrow told him to hit again. And again.
He took far too long as he writhed in pain. Once again, I struggle to believe how inconsiderate one man can be. There I was, patiently waiting to punish him some more and he would not stop being in agony. I gave him plenty of subtle hints of my boredom in the hopes that he would hurry up. Deep sighs of boredom proved useless. "You have failed me again," I finally said, as it was obvious that he would not beg like I had hoped.
"It was a trick," he muttered. "Robin knows. I am no longer a Merry Man."
"What am I supposed to do? Feel sorry for you?" Honestly, why do people keep forgetting that I have no feelings? He began to tell me how he was caught helping me and I should therefore help him but I did not want to hear such things. I told him, "You were not helping me. Stop trying to stay a hero. You were helping yourself because you are devious, selfish and no better than the rest of us." He lowered his head in shame at such a realisation. Oh how I enjoy the misery.
But I am far too good for my own good and continued. "I could use someone like you."
His eyes flickered up in hope. But there was still more punishment to delve out. I ordered the other guards to take him to the servants quarters and get him cleaned up. He seemed almost happy as he thought himself in the clear.
It was so much fun to ruin that. "Unfortunately the only opening I have on my staff is with Gisbourne. He is my right hand man and I have a lot of work I need doing. The imbociele is incapable."
He misunderstood. But that was intention. "So you want me to have Gisbourne's job?" he said, even happier than that of the past.
"Oh no no no no," I said happily. "You are to be his right hand man and take orders from him. Refusal to do so will result in a fate much worse than Hood could ever give you. Enjoy!"
The look of horror and rage showed that my punishment had taken true effect.
It is good to be in charge.
20th October 1191
We heard many a tale of Luke's new life. Most involved constant demeaning tasks at the hand of his worst enemy. This suited us fine.
What we did not approve of, was tasks that hurt others.
From what I understand, the Sheriff summoned Luke to his side on one dark day. There was a man chained to the wall who Luke knew. We all did. He was one of the strongest believers in our cause in all of Nottingham. Many a time he had stopped us on the street to thank us profoundly for any small act of kindness. The Sheriff informed him, "This man has been seen publically preaching for Hood. Apparently he thinks it appropriate to think Hood a hero and is encouraging others to do the same. This is unacceptable. Prove your loyalty to me." With these words came a dagger, pressed firmly in the traitors hand.
I wonder what went through Luke's head. Obviously nothing of the mans three children.
Still, I do not doubt that he will never forget those screams.
He is only human.
The Sheriff smiled that dark smile and said, "well done. You passed! Even Gisbourne did not pass that back when he first joined my ranks. I think you will go far."
It finally hit Luke. He was worse than Gisbourne. What was odd was that he did not care.
Robin and I saw Luke that day. It was quite the interruption to our treasury raid. John was with us and he looked ready to beat Luke until his head was unrecognizable. Robin told us to move on. Only he remained.
"I remember when you first came to me. Matthew was dragging you along after him and he eagerly told me that you both wished to join me in my fight. He said that you both were not very skilled in swordplay or archery but he could do basic cooking and you knew physician skills. I normally test people with fighting and aiming challenges but with you I asked you to help a little boy who was sick. He didn't have long to live but you worked with him all night and you refused to let him die. He did though but do you remember what I told you?"
Luke shrugged even though he did know. Robin continued, "I told you that you did not need physician skills to be in the gang. You did not need any skills. You just need to care about people, even the lowliest of beggars and you could do that. At least you used to? What happened?"
Luke had no answer and Robin walked away.
He took Luke's old life with him.