|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
"I wish Gisborne the best of luck getting anything out of that stubborn young mule." Little John shook his head over the large trencher full of mutton in his lap. He received a withering glare from Will, but only shrugged it off and wondered how Alexis was holding up.
"Surely she must have known the risk of capture was high, but how could she be so foolish as to attempt a rescue like that? It was suicide jumping up on that platform." Added Friar Tuck, a strong-bodied and strong-minded, eccentric specimen of clergyman who preferred the company of avenging outlaws to the solitude of total hermitage. "Did you know her?" He turned now to Adam, who sat before the fire lost in his own thoughts.
"I might, but I really haven't the faintest idea who she could be. I never saw anyone at the hanging besides my would-be executioners, until you lot showed up. You're sure this girl wasn't just trying to help, doing what you would do?" He asked, searching his mind for any clues to her identity. He did have a haunting suspicion, and it grew stronger everyday, but he dared not believe it or speak it out loud, for fear he was right.
"I doubt it. There's no way she could have known we were going to rescue you, we received word of your hanging that morning, after she'd left. And besides, she wasn't exactly enthusiastic about our cause." Continued Tuck, rolling out a map of the castle and examining it for the umpteenth time."She must have known you, or, at the very least, mistaken you for someone else. She was still very sick when she ran off, no doubt her mental faculties were not 'all there', if you take my meaning."
"She's a smart girl, if a bit fool-hardy, and I don't think she would go up there without a good reason. She never struck me as the type who would put her life on the line for a stranger." Robin mused, looking over Tuck's shoulder.
"Well, the sooner we rescue her, the sooner we can find out who she is." Will said impatiently, sitting down beside them. "We need a plan." His face looked agitated and cracked with barely-contained anger. His hair and clothes were tousled and he had spent the past hour silently pacing back and forth.
Robin shared a knowing glance with Tuck before placing a hand on his cousin's shoulder and gently reminding him, "We'll get her back, it'll be alright."
"I know, I know. I'm sorry. It's just the excitement, that's all. We've never attempted a rescue this daring." Will lied through his smile, holding back the fierce desire to remind Robin that it was his fault she'd been caught in the first place. But he swallowed it, knowing arguing wouldn't get him anywhere. "Where should we start?"
The rest of the gang hunched around the map, bouncing ideas off of each other, inventing and discarding plans as the stars appeared one by one, filling the sky. The fire had died down to a handful of faintly glowing embers when they finally retreated to their beds, with only half of a feasible strategy formed, resolving to complete it in the morning. Will lay awake, squirming in his wool blankets, too cold with them cast off, yet too warm beneath them. Thoughts of Alexis plagued him, not allowing him too close his eyes.
Inside his heart, his anger towards Robin grew, and it made him uncomfortable. Rage and malice were feelings he had learned over time to suppress and control, but he'd never felt them so passionately before. He didn't want to confront Robin, couldn't bear the idea of hurting him, but he also felt he owed it to Alexis. Maybe it was purely his own fault. He should have to stop her. Oh, why did he let her go? With a groan, he rolled over and clamped his eyes shut, trying to banish her from his mind, but she would not be ignored, images of her terrified green eyes piercing his vision, haunting his thoughts.
Across the clearing, in his own hut, Robin too lay awake, wondering if he had been wrong in his decision. Perhaps he could have prevented her leaving. At the very least, he should have tried. He knew Will was angry with him, the poor boy had a right to be, but there was something about Alexis that scared Robin, and he would not apologize for keeping his cousin from something that might hurt him.
It wasn't that she was a thief, he was too and had no cause to throw stones in that respect, but there was something else. Something in her face that reminded him of someone, or something, and he didn't understand what it was, but it gave him pause. Looking at her too long brought back images of terror and pain and regret, and he couldn't help but feel like she held some sort of evil omen.
He tried to tell himself that this was ridiculous, that he was being a jealous fool, but those eyes... They made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, yet moved his heart with compassion at the same time. He rolled over again, listening to the creaking, whispering sounds of the night, watching the path of the moonbeams that crept through the chinks in the door. Beneath his blanket, he felt for the cool touch of his sword hilt, close to his side, readying himself for the danger that dawn would bring.
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1