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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1. Prologue

 

    Long ago, during the reign of Richard the Lion heart, there lived a legend known to all. A legend who stole from the rich to feed the poor. He was known throughout every realm; and he had a name that struck fear into the hearts of all who were cruel and wicked. It is well known that this legend, the people's hero, and his band of merry men plagued the Evil Prince John and his cunning servant the Sheriff of Nottingham; and that he romanced and won the heart of his childhood sweetheart. 

But, their story was never completed. It is known to only a few (and fewer as each winter draws its last breath) that before the reign of the Pretender, a secret was made. A secret hidden for centuries in the maze of time.

   For the People's hero had a child. 

* * *

   Before the time of the third crusade (of the forgotten battle of Köln) there was a year with the most glorious weather that any had seen in many a year. The weather caused a magnificent harvest and the fields were green with  bountiful crops; enough to feed the whole of the village for three winters.

The date of this year is forgotten but on the day of the harvest festival, when all were gathered around a large table in the manor house celebrating the gifts that the Lord had blessed upon them, the couple who just happened to be the Lord and Lady of the manor were blessed with a gift. This gift was better than the harvest and anything else that they had ever possessed  It was the gift of new life. A child, their daughter. The child was soon named Guinevere and the realm rejoiced  for many moons. 

 But this was soon disturbed. 

  A war was quickly conjured. It seems that the barbarians in the German wastelands thought that they could attack and lay segue on the German citadel of Köln and no one would react. But, they were wrong. When the future King, Richard, heard that his allies in the east were in danger, he summoned all nobles that were loyal to him to journey to the citadel; and deliver the wrath of God to the barbaric fools. And so, two days before his daughter's sixth year of life, the people's hero left. Leaving his child and wife alone.

  A year passed. A year that was full of fear for the safety of the loved ones who were missing up and down the country. But life continued.

For a while, Guinevere (like countless others) thought that all was well; until winter struck. The winter was a fearsome one. It was cold and its icy winds brought the killer pestilence to British shores. The pestilence drifted in and out of every household, striking the young and the old; none were safe. One of the victims that were grasped by the sickly hand of the pestilence was Guinevere's mother. 

For the whole of the winter, the lady's life was constantly on edge. With each setting of the sun, she was thrown closer and closer to the jaws of death. Then one day, a day when the heartless weather was finally leaving English shores, the lady died viscously one night.

Leaving poor Guinevere alone.

However, it seems that God must have been smiling kindly upon the poor orphan girl. For Guinevere was fortunate to have a father who was a dear friend and ally to the future King. He felt sorry for the poor girl and so he adopted her as his ward.

    But this too was not to last. 

A few years later, Richard was crowned King; and his first decree was to travel to the Holy Lands. He decreed that all who were loyal to him must journey with any man in their possession along side him to Jerusalem and fight the bloodthirsty Saracens who had captured the most sacred city of the lord. King Richard left his shores, entrusting his country (and his ward) into the hands of his youngest and only surviving brother, Prince John. 

    Being only a small girl at the time, Guinevere remembered nothing of who her father was, or what happened to him. This news reached the scheming Prince's ears with delight for he knew that if he wanted his plans to succeed then this would have to be kept that way. 

But, once the wheels of fate have begun to turn then no one can stop them; and destiny had other ideas.   

   

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