We arrived at the fortress with the Prince blindfolded and not speaking. I still felt as if this was a trap but it wasn't. Cheers erupted from the in front of the doors. Sliding off my horse I headed toward the doors. Then turning around I watched as they undid the blindfold off the Prince and then gathered in front of me. David the Dim came out of the crowd and looked up at me, confused and worried. I cleared my throat. Everyone looked at me uncertain.
"Today was a disaster. Then again it proved my theory. I know that everyone here wouldn't do this but there is someone." I paused unable to continue. Just knowing that who and what they were was killing me. "Today, we bring back nothing. No money the towns, no food for us. Thanks to the genesis Marian wife we have now fields that produce food. If not we would all have gone hungry seasons ago. Instead of the food and money I imagined we were confronted with soldiers and both princes. Maybe that was a stroke of luck. Can I have Miller step forward?" Miller stepped forward. I walked down to him before bringing my hand across his face. It like the sound that thunder made as it rolled across the sky. Miller fell out of the sheer force of my hand. Almost everyone gasped. Miller's son Much ran forward. David the Dim stopped him. He had already caught on. "Why? That's all I'm asking! WHY?" I screamed down at him. Miller shook out of fear. Anger bubbled in my veins replacing the sadness of betrayal. I forced Miller up and pushed him toward the steps. He stumbled away but managed to stand.
"Hood?" Little John ran up to me and grabbed my shoulder.
"NO!" I yelled at him and pushed John away. Turning I headed up the steps. "Answer me, Miller! Answer my QUESTION! Tell your son WHAT YOU ARE!" My voice echoed across the yard.
"I haven't done anything!" He finally said and with another crack he fell to the ground. My hand stung but I ignored it. I pulled out a letter from my pocket and showed Miller. His eyes widened with fear.
"Lies! Miller, why? Do you want me to read this or should you say what you are! We're a bunch of thieves! Do you think this was safe to be laying around!"
"I haven't done..." Everyone gasped as I kicked Miller down the stairs.
"Dear Miller of the Merry Men, Thank you for giving us this information. We wish instead of plans and how many there are of you..." I began
"STOP!" Screamed Miller but I ignored his shout
"To hear where you are and who this Robin Hood are. I know last time you told us that no one knows who he is. Your wishes no matter what will be rewarded." My voice cracked at the last part. "Your son will be safe and you and whoever comes after your son will be exempt from taxes. Thank you truly. The King." Silence filled the yard except for Miller's sobs. Without another word I walked into the fortress and headed toward my room. Once there I overturned my table the candle was knocked over and put out. Betrayal hurts.
I don't know how long I sat there against my wall. The candle was lit and sitting next to me. The table was as it was. There was no evidence of my rage. The stone froze my back and spine. Marian sat on my bed where I had deposited all what was left of my weapons. I don't remember her entering. She was tapping her foot growing impatient. Finally she stood up and began placing my weapons on my table. Her wheat hair flowed behind her as she moved. Her dress was tattered and patched but she always wore a smile even now. In her hands she thumbed at my mask. When had I taken that off? It doesn't matter.
"They locked Miller in the dungeons." Those are still working? "They've locked the Prince in the cell next to his. He hasn't spoken yet. We fed both of them soup. Only soup and no spoons. I've brought your food. Soup, bread, and a cup of water. You don't have to keep watch today. No one is tired anyway." I stood up and took my mask from her hands. Placing it on I looked at her green and worried eyes. She grabbed my hand I used to punish Miller. I took a sharp inhale. "It's bruised really bad. You should..." I ripped my hand from her grip and placed my cloak on. Pulling the hood over my head I headed to the dungeons followed closely behind by Marian. The dungeons were located under the fortress and directly under the courtyard. I walked down the spiraling stairs in which Marian followed closely behind me.
Finally the stairs stopped and I opened the wooden door. Inside the room were four cells and a wooden door at the back which lead down to other cells. Each cell had iron bars that went horizontally. The Prince and the spy were in cells directly across from each other. As soon as I entered Little John stood from his stool and the last note from Miller's mouth stopped.
"Robin?" John asked and stretched a hand toward my shoulder. I moved it away and opened the cell of Prince. He stood. Marian ran in quickly and ran out with the empty bowl in her hands. I didn't move to close the cell behind her but instead I stood where the door would go. Prince Adam moved closer to me.
"Go sit down" I ordered. He stopped and sat where he was. Now he was in the middle of the cell. "Tell me your plan, boy." He said nothing. "You are not a Prince here. You are a normal man. You have no power here. Except that's what you want isn't it. You want to be here." He hung his head. I raised an eyebrow. "You want your father's rein to stop." He looked up at me his eyes filled with guilt.
"You don't understand... what he's capable of..." He muttered.
"This one I'm going to tell you is the worse. He caught one of his own men helping..."
"Enough." I interrupted him. All the faces around me were confused. "I know that one. The worse part is that your younger brother enjoyed it as much as his father." I closed the iron door and closed my eyes. "Marian, I'm calling a meeting. I don't care if they're sleeping. Then come back down here and dismiss John so he can join the meeting." She nodded and footsteps echoed away.
"Robin, are you okay?" John asked and I opened my eyes. Looking at him I made a small smile. After that I left and headed toward the courtyard.
"We're going to need new weapons and need to practice with them. Send out on two or three men each day to rob then come back to practice. No one is to address the Prince as Prince, majesty, or any title. Here he is only a man like one of us. As soon as his trust is gained we'll tell him the plan. That's all for now." I finished my speech and looked around the table. All the men nodded slowly in agreement. We sat there under the stars in silence. I looked up and undid my mask. They knew this would be the last night I could have my mask off now that Adam was here.
"Robin, what story was he going to tell you?" Will Stutely asked. John had told them what happened in the dungeon. I slowly looked down and at him.
"Please can you tell us?" Will Scarlet put in looking up. He hadn't heard a bedtime story in a long time.
"A noble, best friends with the King, paid the village's taxes for what they had done for him. The village had tried to save his wife. She however died of childbirth. His wife lived in the village when she was a child. So the nobleman paid the village's taxes because one they allowed him to marry her and lastly they had tried. The King thought of this as treason. So one day the King appeared at the nobleman's doorstep with a dozen men. He made his guards tied the best friend to a tree. Now the son of the nobleman was forced to shoot an apple off of his father's head. This is where the story splits into rumors. No one knows what happens. If the child missed, or not but in the end of every rumor the nobleman and his son die at the King and Prince Jacob's hand." I got up and tried not to make it look like I was running away from the courtyard.
A deep rumbling laugh echoed throughout the yard. Arrows whizzed by my face. Tears spilled down my eyes. "She's as good as dead" The laughing hadn't stopped nor the arrows or the tears. Branches kept hitting my face and I tripped rolling down a hill. That never stopped going down. Always down. My arm sapped against a rock. Pain seared through my arm. I couldn't breath.