The Lady of the Hood - First Book in the Sherwood Series

For Guinevere life as the ward of King Richard the Lion heart is not easy. She was orphaned at a young age by a father who never returned from war and a mother who died from the pestilence; but now her guardian is fighting in the Holy Lands. So she is left in the care of his brother, Prince John.
But when John takes her to Nottingham things start to take a turn for the worst. Her guardian can not return for her sixteenth birthday and she over hears a shocking conversation that could change everything. When she goes off for a ride with Sir Guy of Gisbourne the worst truly does happen. The fearsome outlaw, Robin Hood, attacks Gisbourne and Guinevere finds herself fleeing for her life from a viscous hunting dog that is stalking her.
But when she is under the protection of Hood, after she has been badly wounded by the beast, a memory steers.
Can Guinevere find the truth of her heritage or will John get his way?


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16. Chapter Fifthteen

I looked around for another girl, but there was only me ….. only me …

“M-M-Meeee!” I spluttered.

Robin looked as shocked as I felt. John and the Sheriff were laughing so heavily that it seemed like they were about to burst into tears at any moment.

“Well, I see no other girl of your age at the high table. Do you?”

I just stared at them in shock. My heart was racing in my chest and I was finding it difficult to suck air into my lungs due to the blade that was almost slicing my throat in two.

“It makes sense when you think about it. Who else would be able to shoot an arrow like that other than a Locksley? Can you not see the resemblance between her and your Marian? Can you not see that Hood?”

Robin stared at me deeply for a moment and before long I felt a blush form on my face.

“If you do not believe me, then what of your crest. The crest with the bow and two arrows on a ring. Which you gave to your daughter before you left for Köln. Where is it?”

* * *

            Once again, I was looking through the eyes of my five year old self. This time, I was in our home, stood in front of a blazing fire. Much was sat in the corner of the room, playing away at a wooden flute. I was humming away to the tune was he was playing whilst dancing around the room. My father and mother were sat laughing away at what I was doing. Father had his arm around my mother’s waist; he whispered something in her ear and then placed a kiss upon her cheek.

“Gwen!” Father called. I stopped my twirling dancing and looked at him, a smile spread across my lips, “Come sit here with me!”

I scurried to the chair that Father was sat upon, and with a lot of effort I climbed onto my father’s knee. Father ran a hand over the stubble on his chin, and then he slowly began to bob me on his knee.

“I have spoken to your mother and so I think that I should reveal some news to you!” Father explained.

I sat waiting for him to continue.

“I have been asked by the crowned heir to go and fight in the citadel of Köln against the Barbarians. I shall leave in two days’ time. That means that I shall have to miss your birthday!”

            My smile turned slowly into a frown and I felt my eyes begin to prickle with the sting of tears.

“But, I have a gift!” Father continued.

Father pulled the large ring from his ring finger on his right hand and looked at it for a long time. Then he placed it into the palm of my hand and closed my fingers around it.

“This is our family seal. Your grandfather gave this to me when I was your age, and now I am giving it to you. Our family has served the royal family for centuries and one of the King’s predecessors gave this to one of our forefathers and since then, if the family has been serving the royals then we wear this ring with pride. I want you to do that for me from now on!”

I gazed down at the ring in wonder; it was made of pure golf besides the seal itself that was made of silver with our families seal (a bow with two arrows in it) embedded into it. I put it onto my finger and it fell off. I then looked glumly at the ring that was now spinning on one of its sides. Father was laughing his head off, but he stopped when he saw the look that was on my face.

Mother took the gold chain from around her neck and handed it to my father.

“Thank you Marian,” He said; then he picked the ring up off the floor and carefully slid it onto the chain. He nudged me off of his lap and spun me around.

I grinned at him as he tied the chain around my neck.

“There,” Father said as he planted a kiss on the top of my head, “Then you will always remember me!”

* * *

                “WHERE IS IT!” John snapped at me and brought me out of my memory.

Timidly, I shrugged my shoulders.

“LAIR!”

His hand, as quick as lightening, slashed across my face and I recoiled from him in pain.

“WHERE IS IT!” He screamed again.

“I do not know!” I screamed my reply, tears trailing down my face in a cascade like a waterfall.

            The blade that was pressed to my throat hurt badly as the Knight pressed it even deeper into the naked flesh on my neck. I began to realise how bad this could actually get and I began to fear for my life. If the Knight was not careful then he would draw blood and the wound could be worse than a simple, tiny cut in the neck; a tiny slip of the hand could result in a deathly wound.

Tears trailed down my cheeks in waves in waves as years of hidden emotion flooded from me.

“Let her go!” Robin growled.

            The three men stared at one another, glares piercing their gaze. With a nod of John’s head, I was dropped to the ground, a hand flew up to my neck and it drew back cased in a line of red liquid. I glared at the Prince and the Sheriff from behind the wisps of hair that had come loose. The crowd of nobles were all stunned to silence about the scene that they were watching.

“Get out!” John screamed.

            A scream broke out and everything broke into an uncontrollable panic. All ran to the exits, fighting and shoving one another to try and escape from the bloody battle that would soon erupt.  I stared at the chaos that was before me and I tried to crawl forwards, to join the madness and escape; but someone grabbed hold of a section of my dress and held me back.

Another scream escaped my lips and I tried to move away from them. As quick as lightning, Will was there. He sliced at the man, he dropped me and fell to the floor himself; dead. I stared at the corpse that was beside me, shock coursing through my veins. Will grabbed my arm and pulled me up. I looked at him and he carefully yanked me along.

“Will, get her out of here!” Robin screamed.

With a nod of his head, Will grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the door.

“After them!” The Sheriff screamed.

Terrified, I heard sound of footsteps behind me and I let more tears roll down my cheeks. When we broke into open air, I looked from side to side; not sure what to do. Then, I saw it; the platform from earlier. Dragging him on, we raced up the steps and looked at the men who were staring up at us from bellow.

            My heart was pounding in my chest and I looked from all around for a way out.

This cannot be the end. Surely it shall not die here!

Yet it seemed that they Lord was watching over me. For Robin charged from behind the men, slicing so many as he ran, and stood beside us. Guy was not that far behind him.

            A fight suddenly broke out and I just stared at it. The two men’s swords clanged as metal lashed metal. I became hypnotised as they twirled round and round, like a couple as they danced their deadly waltz. Someone tapped me gently on the shoulder, I spun round with raised fists and relaxed when I saw that it was only Evanne. She handed me the bow and quiver and I could not help but grin at her.

I quickly exchanged looks with Will, he nodded his head and ran off. Then, I slipped an arrow from the quiver and placed it into the horsehair. I waited, watching the two men twirl and dodge the deadly blows. When I saw my chance, I pulled back the horsehair and let the arrow fly.

It slapped into the butt of Guy’s sword and was sent out of his hand; flying. Bellow, I heard the sound of horse hooves churning up the floor.

“Robin!” A voice screamed at the top of their lungs.

            I looked at Robin and then at Evanne, both were giving me a rather concerned look. I opened my mouth to speak, but Robin silenced me with a stern look and I understood what he intended to do when he beckoned me to follow him.

Evanne threw the satchel to me and then ran off, away from us; screaming as she went.

I crept up to the end of the high box and glanced down. Two horses were below. One with a rider, one without.

I gave Robin a terrified look and he said in a low, comforting voice,

“Do you trust me?”

I nodded my head in answer and leaped.

            I landed gracefully on the horse with a rider and I was delighted to realise that it was Will. As I wrapped my arms around his waist and placed a kiss upon his cheek. Then, he charged; not waiting for Robin.

We charged through the streets, dodging towns’ fold who were running to the safety of their homes in an uncivilised panic. Finally, we reached the open track; away from the castle walls and after closely avoiding the fall of some flaming hot tar. We continued to canter onwards, I caught a glimpse of Robin charging after us from over my shoulder and a wave of reassurance passed over me.

            Once we were in the safety of the forest, we travelled away from the track and deep into the trees. Within minutes, we reached the bustling campsite.

Robin held a hand out for me and helped me down from the horse whilst I breathed in the familiar smell of wood smoke, roasting meat and damp earth. When my feet were firmly planted on the ground, he replaced his hand on my shoulder and said,

“Welcome home!”

     

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