Once upon a time, during the reign of the Royal House of Plantagenet – the Norman House of Nottingham was under the leadership of Lord George of Nottingham, who served as the Sheriff and Lord of the County and Nottingham Fiefdom. He had inherited the title from his Norman Ancestors as a reward for loyalty to the House of Plantagenet.
George of Nottingham was a striking figure, and no one would be able to guess the truth behind his birth. After all, nobody except for the hag who served at his birth could possibly know that just a few hours after being born, two babies had been switched – although both had unknowingly been sired by Nottingham’s predecessor. But the hag had used Polyjuice potion after rendering the young wife of the previous Sheriff unconscious on their wedding night. Having used a lust potion tailored to the Sheriff’s chemistry as her personal perfume, she ensured that the Norman Noble would not be able to resist her. The old hag still fondly remembered those lust filled hours which resulted in the birth of George of Nottingham.
It was a shame that no one had known anything about her origins – or that she had been cast out of her family for trying to ensnare the young heirs of noble houses – muggle and magical alike and she had even been burned from the family tree. However, by using her magic, she found a magical relation in the Ancient and Noble House of Prince, who had not known about their connection.
Switching the children, after having poisoned the half-brother of her baby boy was done within seconds. It took her a great deal of self-control not to poison the young wife of the Sheriff as well– but she denied herself that pleasure. The death of a child was explainable, but the death of such a young and healthy noble woman would be near impossible to explain, and the Nobility would never rest until the culprit had been caught and executed.
The hag truly had been very cunning. After using a strong potion to permanently change her looks, she applied for and was hired as the nursery maid for the young heir. Every night after everyone was sleeping, she was able to teach the young heir about his magical heritage. By using strong compulsions, she increased his trust in her – and most importantly, ensured that he would never question any of her motives for as long as he lived.
Due to the hag’s treacherous action of poisoning one of the infants, only one of the boys survived the first week of his life. The unfortunate baby was buried in an anonymous plot. George of Nottingham grew up as the beloved and dutiful son of his Lord father and Lady mother and had been raised - since he was able to read and write - as a loyal servant of the English-Norman crown and of the Roman-Catholic Church.
Nottingham was quite gifted in the Mind Arts. Nobody in his environment – whether commoner or noble was able to lie to him or omit any portion of the truth, when he was nearby. This was the main reason why the young Nottingham had been chosen as successor to his late father.
At the age of 25 years, George had the honour of accompanying the young Prince John of Plantagenet on a pilgrimage that would end in Rome. During the pilgrimage, they were set upon by robbers. Fortunately the young nobles were able to fend off the robbers and by the end of the skirmish, George had saved the life of the young heir of Plantagenet and due to this act received the title – Friend of the Prince, as well as the promise that one day Prince John would be willing to be the godfather to his firstborn son.
The wedding had been announced. George was to be married to a young Italian noble maid of excellent breeding. She was both beautiful and gifted with a brilliant mind. She was so graceful that anytime she walked through a room it would seem as if she was floating on air. Prince John congratulated George on his good fortune and wished him many children.
Prince John may have been married, but as the youngest son the chances that he would ever inherit the throne were laughably small. Even more dangerous for the family was their relationship to young Maid Marian – their young ward and royal cousin. Whoever managed to gain her hand and produce an heir with her would be in the running for the English throne.
If one were to ask the young Prince, he would have said that he preferred to see Marian betrothed to George of Nottingham, but alas it was not to be. Nevertheless, he did receive a promise from his friend and brother in arms that if anything should happen to Marian’s family, Nottingham would offer her sanctuary inside the castle and even his hand in marriage if necessary. As Marian was a royal ward, it was part of their duty to look for a suitable suitor.
Prince John knew that Lord Locksley had once tried to arrange a betrothal between his son Robin and the maid Marian. Luckily for them, Marian’s father had rejected the suit. He did not trust the Anglo-Saxon Lord, who had often been suspected of trying to usurp the Norman dominance. Locksley had never forgiven them for interfering with his claim and bitterness festered in his heart.
Locksley himself had two sons. One son was born from his marriage and the younger son was a bastard with a young noble woman of high standing. Locksley had done everything in his power to ensure that the two boys would never meet. Robin had been a disappointment to him. The young noble really didn’t care for his duties as the heir of the fiefdom and would much rather have spent his days hunting – both prey and skirts alike, drinking gallons of alcohol and looking for fights. His only saving grace had been that he volunteered for the next crusade to free Jerusalem from the so-called heathens. But even then, Lord Locksley had suspected that Robin only volunteered to escape any possible lawsuits. The Church had made clear that all knights and volunteers for the crusade would be receiving total absolution of their sins. If one went on the crusade, nobody would ever be able to ruin their life due to past deeds again.
Will Scarlet on the other hand, behaved more like an heir should behave. He knew everything about their tenants, the condition of their homes and how the crops and storms had influenced them. It was a pity that Locksley had not claimed the boy and ensured that he would be raised properly as should befit his station. At least his mother had done well for the young man. The boy had been educated by monks and was a little scholar and a warrior, with strong morals and yet he would not be able to inherit because those Normans followed the Church!
But this latest disappointment made Locksley careless and he decided to get back at the Crown. And what better way to hurt them than to take away their children. The whole country had celebrated as the royal family visited Nottingham for the baptism of Severus Nottingham, the firstborn of George of Nottingham and his wife Aurelia.
As a frail woman, Aurelia had not recovered well from the birth of Nottingham’s heir. But her loyalty and love to her lord husband and her child was unmistakable. Seeing the Queen blessing the little tyke, Locksley vowed that the child would die. He would make Nottingham suffer, and when the time was right, he would kill him too. In Locksley’s mind, the only good Norman is a dead Norman.
Seven years later, Locksley got his chance. He bribed a male servant who had been accused of lusting after Nottingham’s wife and was more than willing to help the conspirators gain access to the castle. They killed Aurelia in cold blood, as she tried to protect her little son, before forcing the boy to swallow a poison that would slowly kill him over the next few weeks. Then they proceeded to stab every part of him that they could reach.
What they had already done to the child was bad enough, but then Locksley had to take his vengeance further. He forced the boy to remove his nightshirt, before molesting him, and then ordering one of his fellow conspirators to bring in the corpses of those who had died defending the young heir. Severus did not know what the man had planned, but even though he had been stabbed and poisoned, he managed to grab a small dagger and cut their faces, before he was disarmed and brutally beaten.
Before the conspirators could do more to the injured boy, shouts warned them of having been discovered and the men fled. Nottingham reached the chambers and growled after noticing the carnage. Healers were called at once…even the hag was called, but they all told him the same thing, nothing could be done to save his young son. They just advised him not to wait too long before burying the victims and to leave the hunt for the traitors to a higher power.
“Papa, l-l-love you”, whispered Severus, before he succumbed to his injuries and the poison, two weeks later. As Nottingham cradled his dead son, his heart turned to ice and he vowed to his beloved child that he would find the traitors and avenge him. And he would. He would show them no mercy. They had cost him his family.
To make matters even worse, a messenger brought news that enemies of the English Crown had captured Richard Lionheart and demanded a high ransom for him. If they did not receive the ransom, they would kill him and send his body back in pieces. Prince John, already serving as regent, would be leading the nation until they had either collected enough money to pay the ransom or found a way to free Richard.
Summoning the bishop to organise the burial of his wife and child, Nottingham…his eyes dead and cold after kissing his son one final time, ordered that the whole fiefdom should be in mourning for the loss of lives. He also ordered that the bloody dagger should be presented during the burial – where all nobles of the county would gather on pain of death! God would guide them in finding those traitors and letting justice run its course.
Whether they wanted to, or not…all the conspirators and their families went to the burial and had been forced to offer their condolences to the grieving father and husband. But one could only imagine the shock that went through the guilty ones as the dagger started to pulse and emitted an eerie light each time one of the conspirators stepped up to the dais.
Nottingham noticed it as well, and it was the first time that he had delved into the darker vestiges of his inherited magic and, out of anyone’s sight, directed a quill to write down the names and a descriptions of those men that had cost him his family.
Nottingham hunted them mercilessly. He separated them from their family and loved ones, and in time every single conspirator was outlawed, got kicked out of the church, and soon faced their execution. The last that the traitors had been allowed to see before facing the executioner’s axe, was the branding of their family as thralls to the Houses of Nottingham, Prince and Plantagenet.
Each conspirator was hung in an iron cage before the ruins of his former fiefdom, with an iron plaque around his neck listing his crimes and the punishment. The church made it clear that not even a burial would be granted to them, as their sins had been too great. Excommunication was not enough to allow any leniency for those fools.
After his family had been viciously destroyed, Nottingham changed into a cold and merciless Sheriff who did not suffer fools gladly, and woe unto the Anglo-Saxon who tried to rebel or even steal in Nottingham.
Lady Marian would light a candle every year on the date of the boy’s death and she would pray for the family. Once upon a time, during her maidenhood, she had encountered a young and charming Nottingham, and she had developed a crush on him. Now she tried to smother those feelings because this new version of her former crush scared her witless.
Nottingham’s formal clothes now had one difference. He now kept a locket on his person which contained a picture of his beloved son. He was, quite often, observed playing with the locket in times of duress or when he was confronted with a criminal child. The law of the land was merciless – age did not matter. If one was caught stealing, then their life was forfeit. The only exception was if the culprit was a child who begged for leniency and accepted the penalty of serving as a thrall for the next forty years. Special runes were inscribed on the criminal’s body that would prevent any escape to another county.
And then the rumours started. It was said that Robin Hood – aka Robin of Locksley had escaped his planned execution in the Holy Land and was on his way back to England, on a mission to unite with the enemies of the Crown. Those rumours didn’t really interest Nottingham. Instead he spent his time trying to fulfil his duties to the Crown and spent many nights dreaming that fate would allow him to be reunited with his child again. To be able to hug his beloved son again and to keep him safe. If given the chance, he would ensure that no other treacherous conspiracies would succeed and cost him the most important in life - his child.