Disclaimer: I own nothing but the idea, the words and one character. Anything that you recognize is the property of Tiger Aspect and BBC. I'm not making any profit off of this, just having a little fun.
Summary: A young woman comes to Nottingham with a message from Prince John and a secret that threatens to destroy the Sheriff, Guy of Gisborne and the outlaws, all in one fell swoop…
Rating: T for now, could be M later.
It's too early for this, Guy thought, rolling his eyes as he followed the screams of the Sheriff to Vaisey's chamber. "Yes, my lord?"
"What happened yesterday?" Vaisey hissed. "You had a very simple task."
Damn Hood. The day before, Vaisey had sent Guy to Locksley to collect taxes since the job had become nearly impossible to fill because of Robin and his gang of misfits. Collecting the taxes was easy enough, and Guy had taken the extra precaution of taking the dogs with him, but Hood had been ready for him. The gang had thrown some meat to the dogs to distract them and then they had attacked. Guy had fought them off until Hood challenged him to a swordfight. Guy welcomed the challenge, but was infuriated when Robin gave up and ran. "Coward!" Guy called after him, then turned around and froze. While Hood had distracted him with the fight, his men had carried the chest off into the forest. Guy's roar sent birds flying into the skies in every direction.
"It was Hood," Guy almost growled. "He distracted the dogs and took the money."
"Gisborne, are you telling me that Hood is better than you are, hmm?"
"No, my lord, it's just-"
"No excuses, Gisborne. You will simply have to go re-collect the taxes today. Tell them that it is their precious Robin's fault."
"Yes, Sheriff." Guy turned to leave but stopped at the sound of Vaisey's voice.
"Oh, and Gisborne?"
"Don't let Hood best you this time. I'd hate to have to take the missing money out of your skin, hmm?"
Guy simply stared at him for a moment before he nodded and left the room, his mouth set in a furious line.
RH RH RH
Robin, Allan, Will, Djaq, Little John and Much were crouched behind foliage watching a young woman who was walking through the forest. She was very out of place-a dirty young woman with no chaperone, in a forest that was filled with outlaws. And yet, she walked with a poise that belied her peasant-like appearance.
"Do you think she has anything?" Much whispered.
"I'm not bein' funny, but it can't be much if it's in there," Allan replied, eyeing the small bag the girl carried over her shoulder.
"Robin?" The gang all looked at him for guidance, and he smiled and held up a finger.
"Let's wait a moment, eh? I want to see where she's going."
He heard Much sigh behind him and knew that his friend was thinking about the dinner that was waiting for them back at camp. "Anyone that isn't interested is free to go back to camp," he added with a smile, knowing that Much would never abandon his post. Sure enough, his friend sighed and muttered something under his breath but he stayed put.
RH RH RH
The villagers of Locksley murmured to one another in fear as they watched Sir Guy ride into town, accompanied as usual by several palace guards. "Listen up, Locksley!" he roared, bringing his horse to a stop. "Hood stole your taxes yesterday, so I am here to collect them again!"
The murmurs grew louder and more frantic, and one young woman cried out, "But we hardly had the money yesterday!"
"Take that up with Hood," Guy sneered."Guards!"
RH RH RH
Alix was tired, dirty and she could hardly stomach her own smell. She hoped that Nottingham was close, especially since she had been followed for the past few miles. She was prepared for a fight but dearly hoped that it wouldn't come to that. She could hold her own normally, but she wasn't sure about her abilities when she felt this weak.
Suddenly a scream rang out, and her followers abandoned her to race in the other direction, one of them calling, "It sounded like it came from Locksley!"
Intrigued, Alix hesitated for only a second before she ran after them.
RH RH RH
"Please!" The young woman who had spoken out earlier was being held down by one guard while another stretched out her hand on the wooden block they carried with them. Still another guard walked towards her carrying an axe, and the woman's scream sounded again. "Please, Sir Guy!"
The girl's mother stepped forward and pleaded, "Please, my lord. Kate is pregnant, and she is a potter. Without her fingers, my daughter will not be able to earn a living to pay taxes."
"Please! I am sorry!" Kate shrieked. "Do not doom my baby and me to starvation!"
"Should have thought about that before you stole," Guy told her, calmly sitting on his horse. He nodded at the guard. "Go ahead."
The guard lifted the axe and prepared to strike-but suddenly it was knocked out of the air by an all-too familiar arrow. Guy groaned and turned to see Hood and his gang running out of the forest. "What's going on here, Gisborne?" Hood asked, nocking another arrow and taking aim. "Your tax-collecting day was yesterday, wasn't it? Did you lose the money already?"
Guy simmered with anger as he pointed a finger at the group. "Guards! What are you waiting for?"
The guards rushed the gang, who fought them off with ease. When the last of them lay on the ground, Robin looked back at Guy. "So, Gisborne-are you going to tell me what you are doing?"
"King Richard needs his annual duty to help him with the cost of war!" Guy roared. "When you stole their taxes yesterday, you stole from the king. I had no choice but to come out and recollect it."
"You know as well as I do that money does not go to the king," Robin said quietly. "It goes to Prince John to help him with his treason-and I'm sure that some of it remains to line Vaisey's pockets, as well as yours."
"As lord of Locksley-"
Guy's speech was cut off by Robin shooting an arrow near enough to his horse's foot to cause him to rear back, throwing its rider to the ground with a loud thud.
"I am the rightful lord of Locksley, Gisborne. Make no mistake of that." Robin's voice was deadly quiet as he walked over to Guy. "You would do well to remember it."
"One day, Hood..." Guy muttered, trying to stay conscious. "One day..." With that, he lost his fight and passed out.
"What did you do?"
Robin turned to see the young girl they had been following run out of the forest and to where he stood next to Gisborne. She fell to her knees and checked to make sure that he was breathing before she glared accusingly up at Robin. "Explain yourself!"
"Eh?" he said, confused beyond measure. "Where did you come from?"
Alix snorted and tossed her dark hair back before meeting Robin's eyes in a defiant stare. "You followed me for the last two, three miles, and do not pretend otherwise," she spoke loudly to mask Robin's attempt to deny her words. "Now, answer my question."
"He was protecting me." Kate stepped forward to Robin's side. "They were going to cut off my finger because I stole from the castle and I didn't have enough for a second day of taxes. He stopped them."
"I saw that, but I also saw that this man wasn't doing anything after the guards were defeated, and yet he deliberately made his horse throw him," Alix retorted heatedly.
"My name is Robin Hood. I fight for England, the king, and for the people."
"Oh really, is that what you call this?" she said, gesturing towards where Guy lay unmoving.
"He is a bad man."
"So that gives you a right to intentionally harm him? I don't think so, Robin Hood."
Robin laughed and glanced back at his gang, then towards the villagers. "You all know Gisborne-did I do anything he didn't deserve?"
A chorus of no's echoed back to him, and he smiled smugly. "There. What did I tell you?"
Suddenly Guy let out a groan and began to stir. Alix gave Robin one final glare and replied, "I don't care what this man has done. I do not look kindly upon those who hurt unsuspecting and unarmed men, especially in such a sneaky way. I would suggest that you leave before he wakes up. I don't believe I want to be associated with you lot."
"My lot'?" he said incredulously. She pulled a dagger from her pocket and held it up threateningly. "Fine, have it your way." Robin held up his hands and turned to walk away. "My gang, time to disappear!" he called, and they followed him into the trees.
Alix frowned and turned her attention back to the man on the ground, just in time to meet his gaze. She nearly gasped as she stared into the brilliant, blue-green eyes that were searching hers expectantly.
"Who are you?" he asked. "Where is Hood?"
"I ran him off," she answered, deliberately ignoring his first question. "Are you all right?"
"I think so, yes..." Guy's hand went to the back of his head and he winced in pain. Slowly, he stood, accepting her hand and allowing her to help him to his feet. "You ran him off?"
"Yes, well, I rather detest bullies."
"I am Sir Guy of Gisborne, lord of Locksley."
"I am Lady Alix from London. Perhaps you could help me."
"I would be happy to repay my debt to you."
Alix smiled at his chivalrous comment. "I am looking for Nottingham Castle."
"What business do you have there?"
"I am afraid that is personal, Sir Guy."
Guy nodded, and walked to gather his horse from where it had run when Robin had spooked it. He took the reins of another as well and led both back to where Alix stood. "I will lead you to the castle."
"I... I do not ride," she said, trying not to cringe away from the large animal.
Confused, Guy let go of the horse's reigns and reached for her hand. "Will you ride behind me, my lady? I can promise you that Shadow is gentle and I will not allow any harm to come to you."
With a deep breath Alix accepted his hand and clumsily swung into the saddle behind him. Unconsciously she wrapped her arms around Sir Guy and buried her face in his back as he signaled for Shadow to walk.
Despite the overwhelming fear, she couldn't help the smile that crept across her face. Not only was she finally here, but it seemed that she just might already have an ally...
TO BE CONTINUED