The fortress was called The Paradox whatever that was supposed to mean but as I stood on the only remaining stone tower that soared toward the sky I understood why they called it a mystery. It felt as if I could touch the inky black sky dotted with the twinkling lights known only as stars. The cold wind blew threw me in it's journey down south to the warm touches of the world. The bare trees bent under it's mighty presence also reminding me that there was a storm coming. I had already ordered the people below in the hollowed out dusty cellars. The dark air was thick with the cold reminding us of the season.
Pulling my cloak tighter around me I felt vulnerable and scared. My grip tightened on my bow. I was doing a hour of watching and felt the Queen of the world. I could see the castle of the royals far far off in the distance. It was a speck of light much like the stars. My ears picked up faint steps coming up the stairs under me. My hour watch was over and yet I wish it wasn't. Rolling my shoulders I realized I was nervously fingering with a necklace. It was a solid gold ring with a small mark of a bird on it. It was so special and yet I hated it. To many memories and too much emotions.
"Ma'am?" A voice said. I turned to see Will Scarlet. Will had flaming hair, smaller and younger than the men under my command, but just as powerful. I smiled at him. "It is my shift now" he said shifting nervously on his feet. I glanced at his bow and quiver.
"No it is John's turn. Since he is disable I asked Alan to do it. Did he send you?" I asked sitting down and nocking an arrow.
"Yes ma'am he did." Will said sheepishly.
"Will, you can't let them pick on you!" He sat next to me and nocked an arrow.
"I was already awake." I looked at him as he pulled the string back.
"Top of the tree straight in front of you." He let go and we heard a satisfying thunk. "Nightmares?" I asked pulling my own string back and aiming at the tree. I let go and heard another thunk. He nodded. "Tell me"
"It was about my parents. That night." I nodded. When I was younger I had come to my Aunt's house. A week later at night they were brutally murdered. We had watched before I had come out of my shock and took Will and ran. He shouldn't even remember it. He was only two and I was seven. "Do you think they remember you?"
"Let's hope not" I said ruffling his hair. Standing I glanced one last time out at the silent night then walked away.
The storm hadn't let up. The thunder hadn't quit roaring and the blinding light filled the sky so much I could clearly see my surroundings. I bobbled a little under the two year old's weight. Carrying him on piggyback had left me without hands meaning I had to drop him to defend us. The ground's rocky surface turned to slippery mud. I caught myself before falling onto the muddy road. No, I mentally pushed myself, I can't be on the road. The last ounce of my strength gave out and the child and I tumbled into the mud. Cursing at myself I looked over to the boy. The only thing that gave him away was the bright red hair on his head. Cursing at his hair I pulled him to the edge of the road. I shivered involuntarily because of my soaked clothes and the freezing rain that fell harder then before. Flopping down next to Will, I let out several raw coughs. Sniffling I knew that if I got sick that meant both of us would parish. Suddenly lights filled the road and I heard the thudding hooves of horses. Numbly I placed my hood onto my head. Maybe they won't see us, I thought but that last hope died when a figure with a light knelt in front of me. I uncontrollably let out several more harsh coughs. His mouth moved and I shook my head. He threw his head in a laugh.
"Well then Hood, let's take you and Scarlet here to my house. You'll die out here." He slowly picked me up and the rain slowed. He kept talking about his family and his little boy, John. Suddenly the sky turned red. The images turned red and melted leaving my all alone in water of some red liquid. Then there were three pounding booms. They repeated. Three booms stop then three again. Horrified I realized I was drenched in blood.
Reality crashed upon me like a bucket of cold water. My breathing was quickened and I was lying on the marble floor of my room. The room was dark but I could clearly feel the sting of cold against skin and feel the warmth of blankets beside me. I scrambled to my feet and headed over to the table. My skin was sticking to my under clothes. My breathing slowed as I tried to recall the nightmare that had woken me up. It slipped through my grasp as easily as soap. Slamming my fist on the table I focused on my breathing. It was still rough.
After slowing it down I lit a candle. The room soaked up the weak light and my eyes traveled away from it. I tucked in the light shirt I wore before grabbing my vest and tightening it. I loosened it a tad to be able to bend over. I looked down at my stockings. I could see my big toe peeking out at me and laughing. Gritting my teeth I pulled out a new pair of stockings and put those on over top of my old ones. Rolling my neck I heard it pop in several places. Sitting on my bed, I struggled to put my boots and tightened them to. Standing back up I grabbed my belt and tightened it around my waist. Taking the candle I exited my room and headed toward the blacksmith. Upon getting there I collected my weapons and headed out toward the gate. The streaks of dawn lighted the sky. Rubbing my hand on the gate I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Leave then show up minutes before the battle. Unclipping my mask I heard a voice.
"Leavin' so oon? It ain't even morn, Misses Hood." David of Doncaster stepped in front of me. David had a very round face and with a brown bushy beard and hair to go with it he looked mean. Then you look away from the face and your looking at someone so muscular they could knock a tree out of the ground just by kicking it. Despite his brutish figure David had the softest heart ever. Softer then a child. Completely opposite of me. "Misses Hood?"
"David I told you before to call me either Hood or Robin. No Miss. I'm not worth it." I answered smiling at him. He gave me a toothy grin back that could scare the Devil himself.
"Yessum, Misses Robin." He answered. I shook my head. David as a child had been abused and shown the horrors of the world. It was only because, dare I say it, he is dumb. Not the thinking type but the loyal to a fault type. I had saved David when I was ten. The details of the scars will bore you. He forever gave his loyalty to me. I set out to help him too. No man left behind, mentally or physically, male or female, class or no class, I never leave a man behind to die alone. David was fishing something out of his pocket.
"What are you giving me David." He smiled sheepishly and held out his ham size hand. He slowly opened it.
"I sit on it. Me so so Misses Robin." It was a blue flower. It came off a weed growing around the fortress. I placed my mask on and then took the flower.
"Thank you, David" I opened one of the pockets on my belt and placed it in there. David smiled happily and wandered away. I turned to see where he wandered but was too late. He was already gone. How many men will I lose?
"It took a year to get this plan into motion. Changed thousands of times to fit this day. This day we steal from the richest and give to those in need!" I finished my speech and all twenty men cheered. It was already in motion. The tree to block the path was already laying on the path and my men were getting into position. Something about this day though seemed wrong. Everything looked right but something was definitely wrong. Little John appeared at my shoulder.
"Hood, shouldn't you be hiding too?" He asked. I placed my hand over his mouth to stop him from continuing speaking. Taking two steps away from tree I kneeled and touched the ground. I could feel a slight vibration. Suddenly out of nowhere a bird squawked, making me jump. I watched it's flight.
"Places!" I ordered and jumped behind the tree. Sitting down I knew something was wrong but I didn't know what. I let my head fall against the tree. Adjusting my mask someone jumped down besides me. It was David and he gave me one of his goofy smiles. I smiled and took his dagger. Looking it over I determined it was good then handed it back to him. Smiling he pointed up and put a confused face on. I shook my head and pointed to a hole in the tree I made early in order to see on the other side. He smiled and played with the dirt road at his side. I looked through the hole. It didn't look like an ambush, thankfully.
Securing my hood I looked at what David drew. It was the plan. The carriage stopped and arrow pointing toward it. I wiped it away. Looking back through the hole I could see it in the distance. I wondered if it would work. It better. Thundering hooves and the creaking of wheels suddenly got louder and louder. Looking through the hole I could see the golden white carriage and five armed warriors beside it. No driver. The carriage looked differently then it should. Something is wrong. Very wrong. I couldn't understand it. David tapped my shoulder. I ignored it. The guards looked absentmindedly at the fallen tree. The birds stopped chirping. Finally the head of the guard turned his horse.
"Someone get this tree out of the way!" Then it dawned on me. Unbelievable, I thought. I motioned for David to head slowly and without noise toward the trees. I headed the other way. The guards still hadn't moved. I was at the tree line when suddenly the guard yelled. "Attention!" I moved around the tree and looked at the carriage. Little John headed over to me. He was very confused but I wasn't watching him I was staring at the boy who came out of the carriage. The boy was extremely fat and looked like the church's cherub except five times more rounder. His blonde hair was way to small for his head and his blue eyes looked around excitedly. It was the Prince, the second one, the one that was identical to his father. That was Prince Jacob. Someone climbed out of the carriage and stood next to Prince Jacob. He began arguing with him. His golden shaggy hair glinted in the sunlight and his blue eyes were clouded with anger.
"Change of plan. We still attack but we're taking his fat son. Force him that way." I whispered not letting my eyes move away from the Prince. Slowly nocking my arrow I pointed the tip at the head guard who headed toward the Prince. I let go and it soared toward the guard. With a solid thunk it pierce through the plate and into his shoulder. Next my men ran out of the forest toward the carriage. Soldiers spilled out of the carriage. Running on top of the fallen trunk I watched as five men ran toward me. Carefully I fired three arrows. The men stopped in their tracks but smiled. I smiled back and turned and fired at the carriage heading this way. The arrow killed the driver and frightened the horses. They reared and turning again I fired two arrows at the gawking men.
Moving quickly I motioned for two of my men and headed toward the dozen or so men filing out of the carriage. A dozen men headed toward me and another for the two men hopping over the trunk to my 'aid'. I looked into my quiver. Only three more arrows. Grabbing one I ran toward a soldier and stabbed into his shoulder. Then kicking him I fired the arrow at his partner. It went cleanly through his shoulder and stabbed the man behind him. I pulled my last two arrows out and fired them. They hit two other men. The last eight men circled around me. Some where smiling. I was also. One charged and I used my bow like a club as it cracked against his head. My bow broke into two parts. Dropping the useless part I pulled out a dagger. Three men came toward me. Easily knocking all three unconscious I smiled looking at the last four. I charged at them. Dodging their spears and swords and knocking all four down. I looked to see my men tying the Prince and the one who was talking to him. Then I realized it was both princes. My boots crunched the dust as I headed over to them. David was looking angrily at Prince Jacob. Little John stepped in front of both prisoners. He turned to me.
"Prince Adam is stronger than the fat one." He said to me. I nodded. Walking up to Prince Jacob I bent close to his face.
"Are you frightened?" I asked in my deepest voice. He nodded frantically. I looked over at Prince Adam. His steel eyes looked back into mine. "What about you?" I asked.
"Go to the underworlds, Robin Hood." He said and spat on my boot. I used his brother's pant leg to wipe it off. Turning I walked over to Little John.
"What do you say? Take the stronger? Use his love for his brother? Convert him to our side?" I whispered.
"How did they know?" He asked
"Never mind that. Answer my questions, John" He nodded and headed over to Prince Jacob. He took a fistful of his shirt and hauled him to his feet.
"Knock the other out. He'll walk home." John said
"NO! Take me please! Don't take him!" Prince Adam yelled. I turned as everyone looked at me to decide.
"He'll be eaten by the wolves before he can make it." I simple said looking at Prince Adam.
"Fine" I said and headed toward the woods.