These tales are suppose to be about a good hero, saving maidens and defying men who trample upon justice.
This might be one of those, or not. That's up to you to decide.
My story starts with my brother. His name was Robert of Locksley. I say was, because he's dead.
We had just received word from King Richard that Robert was to be joining him in the crusades. I remember the horrible day, I was crying in the gardens. My father, a strict man with an unhealthy love for the king, had told Robert that he must go, otherwise he would be disowned. My brother and I had always been close, as my mother died giving birth to me and father never bothering with his only daughter. 'Sons are God's gift to fathers' He always said.
My brother found me in the woods behind our house. Even with tears streaming down my cheek, i still held my bow high and firm, shooting my anger at a tree, pretending it was my father in its place. Every time I hit that little knot, just where the heart could have been, would the tree been human, I smiled just a bit, before stringing another arrow on.
'Father should be worried, least you try to actually shoot him' I heard Robert say behind me. 'You're even better than me now, and that's saying something.'
Turning around, I could see him in the morning sun. His chestnut hair was just a slight darker shade than mine and he was a bit taller than me. Other than that, we were practically identical. We had the same pale green eyes and the same smile.
'I wish I could.' I retorted. 'Then we wouldn't have this damn problem. He's a fool, not worthy of the title he bares.' I spat on the ground, talking about father felt sour in my mouth.
'Watch your tongue, my dear sister, mother might scold you when we see her next.' He warned me. A warning that no longer did anything. He had used it ever since we were little, him just three years older than me, telling me off lovingly every time I disobeyed father. Though he was always there for me when I needed him, except now. Now he was going far away from me, leaving me alone with my father.
'I need you here, more than the King does.' I growled at him, my temper rising. 'Does it really matter if you're there or not. Plenty of valiant nobles go for his cause, why should you make a difference?'
He laughed at this, his arms coming around me, embracing me, bow and all, my quiver shoving painfully up into the space between my shoulders. 'My sweet sister, my sweet baby sister.' I could hear him saying, his face buried in my hair. 'You know full well why I need to go. Father demands it and so does our King. Though I would gladly scorn my father, one cannot disobey an order from Lionheart.'
I sighed and stepped away from his warmth, leaving his embrace and turning, face towards him. 'I understand, I truly do. However, I do not wish for it.' He nodded his head, silently agreeing to my words. 'Come, Marian. Let us go back to the house, father will miss us soon. He had another letter just a while ago, and wishes to see us both.' He led me back towards the house. 'What? Maybe King Richard changed his mind? Heard about your ways with the women down in the village and never wants a lug like you in his army?' I joked, trying to keep my mood up, now when father was to be seen, being angry was never a good thing.
'Oh hush, you…' Robert said in a low murmur. 'You know I would never…'
'No, no, no!' I screamed 'Father, you can't mean this, surely?' My father had given me the letter brother talked about. This one, however, was not concerning my brother, but me.
'I do, and as my daughter, you will be wise to obey me.' My father's voice said from the big oak chair by the fireplace. 'You are old enough to be married and I will not wait more than necessary to get rid of you.' He took another sip from the goblet in his hand and stood up, still facing the fire. I looked at Robert, still standing by the door, pleading for him to help me.
'This marriage will give more than enough for me to finally fill the void you caused me when you took my wife from me.' I could hear the anger in his voice, even though it was calm and low. Father had never forgiven me for what happened to my mother. Had I been a boy, then maybe, but I was born a girl, and he never let me forget it.
'Father, whoever this man is, surely he can't give you anything to fill mother's place?' I asked, hoping this was the right thing to say. He laughed at this, a cold laugh that chilled me straight through. 'Oh, he has enough gold, don't you worry. I will manage without you, oh yes I will…'
At this, my brother finally broke free from the door, as if he had been chained there until now. He walked towards father and I followed. 'Surely this marriage can wait until I come back?' He said, now standing just a few feet away from the chair, and my father. 'You sister will marry, before you come home, or God so help me, I will make her away however I can.' He was swaying slightly back and forth, a drink too many in the early day, something not out of the ordinary. He was a drunk, spirits had never left his side from the moment my mother took her last breath. I had never seen him sober and I doubted I ever would. 'Robert, you are to leave this house before the sun sets today.' Father turned to my brother. 'And you,' he murmured, looking over Robert's shoulder, straight into my eyes, 'you will go to your room, and dare you leave it until your intended has come, then you will regret it, I'm sure.' His eyes gleamed, as they always did when violence were on his mind.
'No, father, I refuse. I will not go until Marion is free, free from marriage and free from you.' He put his arm out, shielding me from him.
'You dare to speak up to me, your own father and lord of this house?!' sputtered father, his face reddening. 'I have already sent Gisborne my answer and in a fortnight, he will come to collect.' I put my hand on Robert's arm, trying to lower it, as I didn't want to anger father any further. In the woods, I was brave, but in the house, I was a girl, a sixteen year old girl. I could never disobey him here, my willpower weren't strong enough. Robert held his arm, not lowering it even though i pleaded in his ear.
'I will not stand for this. You will not…'
Time seemed to slow down, the moment my father's eyes sparkled, and I could see him raising his hand towards Robert, goblet in hand. Robert wasn't fast enough. The goblet hit him in the head, and had that been all, I'm sure we would all still be here, but no. Robert fell down, his head slamming into the stone floor with a sickening crack. In the distance I heard a scream, so high and shrill I could have swore it was a demon. It wasn't until later I realised that I had been the one screaming.
Wine mixed with my brother's blood as the goblet clattered to the floor. His eyes were opened, but there was no life in them. Seconds later, I felt a hand pulling me by my hair. Father's hand.
'See what you've done, you little wench!' He yelled in my ear. 'You have not only taken my wife, now you have also taken my son from me!' My scalp was burning from the pull and tears rolled down my cheeks. He threw me down on the floor, next to Robert's body. I lay there, silently crying and looking into his eyes, searching for life in them, but found none.
I could hear father breathing above me, still standing there. 'I'm not the one who did this.' I said in a low hiss. 'What?' He growled. I looked up at him, feeling the anger from this morning tenfold over. 'I said, I am not the one who took Robert's life from him, but you!' His cold eyes bore into me and he slowly bent down, pulling the knife from his belt. My eyes followed it as it got closer and closer to me. 'Now, what shall I do without a son? Who shall now bare my name and fight for the King?' My father had gone mad, I'm sure. The smile on his face was not of this world and neither was the tone of his voice, rumbling like thunder.
The grip on my hair got harder again and I let out a yell as he raised me up by the hair. The knife came closer to me and I closed my eyes, praying to come to the same place as Mother and Robert.
But not, I fell back towards the floor, hard, my arms hardly time to protect me from the hard surface. When I looked up, I saw father walk away from me, holding my long hair in his hand. 'I expect you gone in an hour, Robert . Send the King my regards.' He walked out of the room and left me there, lying next to my brother's corpse.