Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chapter 21 Part 2

photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing
Alexis shut her eyes, but continued to feel the stares of the gang burrowing into her: shocked, betrayed, disappointed. Most painful of all was the knifepoint at the small of her back she identified as Will's disappointed gaze, judging and hurting and hating her. She felt the knives, saw the thick darkness churn about her and heard her life story being told back to her, every last one of her secrets dumped like cursed gold at the men's feet. Robin told the truth, and told it thoroughly enough that she wondered if she would ever have the courage to open her eyes up again.

"Now you know everything she has withheld from us. Everything that we, as charitable people who saved her life and gave her every opportunity at starting again, had a right to know. This is her past, and, I think, you can take a pretty good look at her future, considering her previous reckless and selfish actions. I leave it up to you all to decide what is done with her, but I suggest she be treated as his majesty would any thief and traitor." Robin's words bordered on begging as he urged her banishment and scorn.

"No." Friar Tuck's deep voice shot the word out immediately, firmly. Startled, Alexis opened her eyes to see him standing over Robin, arms crossed, the look on his stern face boding no good. "Robin," He leaned closer, "How dare you?" He sank to a cutting whisper. Robin involuntarily stepped back.

"How dare I? How dare I work to defend my king and my nation? Richard is the last hope England has, and anyone who is an enemy of the king is an enemy of us all." Robin found his footing and hurled back this argument with vehemence. "It is never easy to carry out justice, but it must be done for the safety and well-being of all, and this girl could know any number of secrets. Who's to say she won't sell them to anyone who has a more than passing interest? If she is free, the king's life is in danger."

"Alexis is no more a traitor than you, Robin. Her father made a bad decision, a costly decision, but it was his decision alone, not hers." Tuck was a full foot taller than Robin and loomed over him with an icy stare that no one could meet for long. "As for secrets, what could she know about the king's war that you don't? That any veteran, powerful lord or uneducated peasant doesn't know?"

"Tuck's right, Robin. Maybe her father was a traitor, but that doesn't mean she is. We owe her a chance. It's more than we ever got." Allan piped up from his seat by the fire, holding his instrument in his fingers, still forming a chord, the melody cut short when Alexis had returned.

"But we are not traitors!" Robin seethed, clenching his fists and trying to control his breathing.

"Neither is she." Will declared, looking his cousin in the eye. His voice was low, almost grudging, but the words were clear. "She has one nothing worthy of the punishment she has received. Who was the one in jail? The one being tortured, the one left to die alone in the woods, without family and without a grave? She was, not any of us who have done things to deserve a fate equally terrible, if not worse." Having delivered this speech, he lowered his eyes again and stepped back, feeling Alexis's astonished gaze but not daring to return it. Alexis had lied to him, and it still hurt, but she had suffered enough cruelty.

Robin swallowed and closed his eyes, slowly, slowly releasing a deep breath, attempting to dispel the anger inside him. "You make an excellent point, Will. Treat her as you think she deserves, since you so obviously know everything about such matters." He filled the last words with his venom, gave a joyless smile, and stalked off, grabbing a bow and quiver.

"Where are you going?" Little John asked, making it clear by his expression that he would tolerate none of Robin's dramatic nonsense.

"For a hunt. We need food and I need a walk." Robin called over his shoulder icily, feeling the weapon creak and strain under the pressure of his grip, his fingers turning purple.

Start at the Beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1

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