Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapter 4 Part 1

"Stupid girl!" Alexis muttered to herself when she was alone. She sank down to the mattress, her head in her hands. "Now what?" She had given herself away. If they hadn't figured it out already, it wouldn't be long. With a sigh, she resigned. Lying down, she thought up a plan, all the while wishing there was an alternative. But it had to be done. She looked up at the thatched roof, blinking back the tears gathering on the ends of her eyelashes. Her thoughts wandered back to Will. She would miss him, against all reason, all odds, she would love him and miss him, and he would never know.

When she heard the last man go to sleep, leaving Allan to keep the first watch, Alexis slipped out from the mattress onto the rough ground. Gathering up the blankets (she had nothing else to keep her warm), she tiptoed through the door, and stood under the clear, silvery moonlight that turned the night into a world of dancing shadows. Allan's back was turned from her and he was lost in thoughts of him and Ellen.

Quietly as possible, Alexis entered Robin's hut, but he wasn't there. Not sure if this was a good thing or not, but in too much of a hurry to care, she swiftly located the leather case of knives and stuffed it into her dress. She turned to go, but something in the corner glinted, catching her eye. It was a bag of gold coffers lying unprotected within her grasp. Her hands twitched to snatch it, her heart raced. That could feed her for a year, it could maybe even buy her freedom. No one would notice...

No. She had already taken too much, and Robin, trustworthy or not, had helped her when she needed it most. She had lost a lot of things in her life, but not her pride. When someone helped you, you didn't stab them in the back. Holding this thought firmly in her mind,she slipped out into the shadows of the forest. 
With one last, lingering look, she swallowed the burning in her throat and faded into the wilderness, the word "Goodbye" left dead and cold on her lips.

In his hut, Will saw her through a crack in the door as she walked past, and he made a move to stop her, but Robin grabbed his sleeve and held him back. After the sound of the girl's footsteps died away, Robin went back to his hut without a word, leaving his cousin to stare at the ground, his heart clouding with anger and pain.

"He was right," He whispered to himself, trying not to think of the way her soft, delicate fame felt in his arms, and how her eyes sparkled when she laughed. "She never loved you, you idiot. It was all a con, just like Robin said." With a bitter sigh, he wiped away an unmanly, stray tear and flung himself onto the mattress.

How was it possible for a girl to win his heart so quickly? And what a girl she was. He mused morosely and sleeplessly over the fact that he might never see her again. He tried to tell himself that she had betrayed him, that she didn't deserve love, but he worried about her despite all this. What if she got hurt out there, or arrested? She was so fragile and young; alone, with no one to protect her. 

Alexis awoke to a curtain of blinding sunlight thrown over her face and the sensation of something digging into her backside. Sitting up and blinking, she turned to glare ruefully at the knotted root that had nestled in between her vertebra all night. For a moment, she didn't know where she was, but looking about her, she remembered. 

After leaving the camp, she had wandered up and down the dark, shadowy paths of Sherwood until exhaustion overtook her and she all but collapsed into the damp, hollow cavity of a tree to sleep. Her dress now smelled of mold and was covered in mulch, but that wasn't the worst of her problems. She was starving again.

After spending so long in the comfortable camp with actual food and regular meals, she had forgotten what it was like to be hungry constantly. "Well, that decides it." She grumbled to herself, moaning in pain as she stood and stretched. "First order of business: food." Picking up the knives, she made her way into the dense foliage, hoping to catch something before the hunger set in too deeply and drained what little energy she had left.

The sun was high in the sky before she found anything edible. With a gasp of delight, she saw just over the ridge where she was waiting, a fat, jumpy rabbit. "Oh, thank you, Lord," she prayed gratefully, drawing the knife back with her good arm and whispering under her breath.

"Wait... Wait... Now!" She released her grip on the blade and it went spinning though the air towards the unsuspecting creature. But, just before the blade struck its target, a clear, shrill blast of a trumpet rang though the air, startling the animal and sending it scurrying away unscathed. Alexis jumped into the underbrush, her hands on her ears. The knife dug into ground as a large, loud hunting party raced by not twenty feet from where Alexis had hidden herself, trembling and frightened.

"You've got to be kidding me," Alexis muttered, picking up her skirts and cleaning off the knife when the riders had passed without noticing her presence at all. "This is pointless." She finally decided. "I'm already a criminal, what have I got to lose but my life? Even that's pretty worthless." Wiping the mud from her face, she marched off in frustration towards Nottingham, too angry and too hungry to worry about the risk.