Alexis felt herself blink her eyes, but still she saw nothing. Her senses, at first hazy, were slowly beginning to return to their natural sharpness. She noticed a dim light somewhere not too far from her, and she also realized she was lying in a bed, not in the bottom of a ravine, and — this realization the most amazing of all — that she was not dead. Awaking in a strange place, especially since she had expected never to wake again in this world, her first instinct was to fight. Her numb and feeble fingers reached for the knives that should have been where she had tucked them into her dress. Finding them gone, she became increasingly alarmed, and bolted upright.
This was not a very good idea. A surge of unbearable pain set her shoulder on fire, and she shrieked. It was a breathless, hoarse and feeble shriek, but it did not escape the ears of Will Scarlet. Alexis forced herself to lie down again, panting heavily and clutching her shoulder. Her head throbbed, she felt faint and dizzy, and she would have been sick if there had been anything in her stomach. But she had not eaten for three days, and it was taking a toll on her already over-worked body. She closed her eyes, genuinely terrified, for she knew she might have to defend herself and that she was not physically capable of doing so in any way.
The surf of an imaginary ocean pounding in her head, drowned out the footsteps of Will, as he quickly strode to her side. His appearance beside her justified another, startled scream when she opened her eyes. "Don't be frightened," he said, "I won't hurt you. Just try to relax." His voice was soft and gentle and his blue eyes radiated sympathy. "I'm afraid that shoulder will trouble you for awhile, but just try to ignore it."
Alexis took in his handsome, clean-shaven face, topped with short, black hair, as he smiled reassuringly at her. She stole a glance at his trim but muscular frame, liked what she saw, but was not ready to trust him — or anyone else, for that matter — just yet.
"I'm not afraid." Was her short and cold reply. Her eyes searched his for some trace of deception or evil intent, but she found none. All she could see was concern. But why did he care about her? No one ever had before, maybe with the exception of her family.
"Who are you and where am I?"
"Later, later. You've had quite a day. Get some rest. There will be plenty of time to talk when the gang gets back."
"No, I want answers. I'm fine," Alexis argued, struggling through a wave of dizziness. She could not sit, could not even move her head, the pain was so great. But she would never rest easy until she knew where she was, who he was, and why she was here.
Will sighed in submission. "Well, my name is Will, Will Gamwell. But my friends call me Will Scarlet, because of this thing." He tugged on the crimson kerchief tied loosely around his neck. He had hoped to amuse his questioner with this small fact, but she did not laugh. "You are an honored guest," continued Scarlet, shrugging off the insult of not being found funny, "in the camp of none other than the infamous Robin Hood Himself." He gestured grandly to the space around them, but all Alexis could see from her bed were the dark inner walls of the hut and a small gleam of firelight showing through the doorway.
"Right, and the Loxely butchery is actually Camelot," was her sarcastic reply.
"Look, you asked for answers and I gave them to you. Whether you believe them or not is your problem," Will said, but then, softening his voice at seeing the pain in her eyes, asked if she would like anything to eat. He very gently and slowly helped her into a sitting position, as she held back the cries which leaped to her throat, for she would rather die than appear weak. She simply nodded her head, hoping he did not detect the desperation brought on by her hunger. Perhaps while she ate, she'd even be able to get some answers out of him.
Alexis refused to let Will feed her, choosing — instead — to eat his proffered bowl of soup with one hand, balancing it in her lap, her back leaning against the wall of the hut. With the first sip, Alexis's mind cleared a bit, and she was ready with more questions. But before she could ask any, the sound of laughter and heavy feet crunching on the autumn leaves filled the clearing. Meeting his gaze with terror in her own, Alexis opened her mouth to speak, but before she could utter a sound, Will was turning away, with a quiet, "It's OK. I'll be right back."
From outside the hut, she heard more laughter and more than one deep voice addressing the man who thus far (she had to admit), had been most kind to her.
"There y'are, lad!"
"Come, give us a hand!"
"That merchant had a lot of gold on 'im."
"Aye, it was a rum good catch, it was."
"What's for dinner? Smells good."
"Where's Robin? He back yet? And why are you here, instead of in Loxley with him and the rest?"
"Robbers!" thought Alexis, "probably cutthroats. They must've taken the knife pouch. Now they'll kill me for sure!" She looked around in a panic, knowing full well she was trapped. But the sound of Will's voice, low and whispering, calmed her. She couldn't make out what he was saying. His words, though, seemed to have a similar effect on the men outside. All their voices became hushed. "He must be telling them about me," she thought.
A moment later, their whispering was abandoned when someone else barreled into the camp with a boisterous, "Hello, blokes."
Shouts of "Hey!" and "Here he is now!" and "Robin!" filled in the air in reply.
Alexis tensed, pulling her fingers into fists, ready to fight to the end. She knew she wouldn't last long. What could one weak, defenseless girl do against a whole gang of dangerous full-grown men? She breathed deeply, trying to calm herself, but when she heard the shuffling of feet outside her door, she panicked. "Cruel," she thought, "Cruel of Will to trick me like that. Cruel to play with my mind, to almost make me trust him, just so he and his stupid friends can turn around and murder me. Or worse."