The following was written when ‘Robin of Sherwood’ first aired in the U.S. on the Showtime network as ‘Robin Hood’, in 1983. I disliked waiting for the second season, so I wrote my own episode. Also I felt, at the time, that not enough mysticism was involved, as we were lead to believe it would be for this incarnation of Robin Hood. I, always, believed that Herne and Albion had more power over Robin (as did Marion and his band’s love and respect), than was presented in the show. This version was edited in 2004 and re-edited in 2010 from a script into a story.
This story is not connected to any of my AU stories written after the second season of ‘Robin of Sherwood.’
This story is dedicated to Michael Praed (who still inspires me), the creators
of ‘Robin of Sherwood’ and all the fans for keeping the dream alive.
Robin was walking from town to their latest encampment, when he heard a scream. Without thinking, he spun to his left and broke through the trees and brush toward the sound. Too late, he realized it was a trap. Before he lost consciousness, the last thing Robin saw was Sir Guy of Gisburne’s nasty smile as he sat on his horse looking down on his stunned prize.
THE QUALITY OF LIFE
Word of Robin’s capture spread like wildfire, so it was a short span of time between his incarceration at Nottingham Castle and his constant companions finding out about it. The outlaws turned to Marion and Scarlet, as they usually did when they sensed danger and Robin was not about.
Marion went from feeling faint, fearful, and sad to straightening her backbone and taking charge in a matter of seconds. Her love for her husband must be pushed aside, as emotions never worked in these situations. And, thinking of emotions, she immediately put her hand on Scarlet’s arm.
Scarlet had a flame in his belly that shot straight into his throat. You would think a trained soldier would know how to keep his emotions in check, but his hard childhood and the cruel death of his wife always seemed to take over at the most inopportune moments. Every fiber of his being was tensed and ready to strike…at anyone! He could barely see, as his vision had blurred and his breathing was hard. His fists were clenched as tight as his jaw. Somewhere in the distance, he felt something cool. Something soothing. Something that drew him back to a state of calmness. The dead state of calmness a soldier was taught when he had to face the enemy. He looked down and saw Marion’s hand on his arm. Damn the woman! he thought. She always knows how to get to me…damn her!
Robin awoke to semi-darkness. His head throbbed and he put his hand up to gingerly feel the knot on the top and the stickiness of congealing blood in his hair.
“Look, Arthur. Our friend is back. We told you you would not escape. The only way out is feet first…Only way…feet first.”
Robin knew where he was now: the dungeon of Nottingham Castle with the crazy old man and his pet rat, Arthur. Slowly his eyes adjusted to the faint light from the grating above and, just as slowly, his memory came back as to how he got there.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid…” he muttered through his clenched jaw.
“Awake, are we?” came a deep familiar voice from above. “Oh, good. We would not want you to miss your party tomorrow. Your hanging party!” Gisburne laughed as he walked away from the grate and Robin could still hear it echoing all the way down the hall.
Marion lifted her hand from Scarlet’s arm as she felt him relax. “They will hang him and they will do it quickly. Most likely tomorrow. And in public. The Sheriff will want everyone to see it, so there will be no rumours.”
Will closed his eyes for a minute to get his brain working again. “Too right, Marion, too right. We will need to leave now and make plans on the way.”
“I agree about leaving now, Will, but this will be a tricky one. They will be expecting us. For once, you will have to do as Robin does: listen for Herne and act without thinking.”
As Marion, Little John, Much, Nasir and Tuck started off, Scarlet asked himself, Act without thinking? Whatever is she thinking? Will Scarlet lived his life acting on impulse and Robin usually had to pull him back. Finally, he fell in behind them, shaking his head.
Marion turned to see a faint smile on Will’s lips. Oh, my… she thought.
Dawn arrived too soon for Robin, as he hadn’t had time to hatch a real plot. The grate was lifted, a ladder lowered and he was ordered to climb up. Before reaching the top, the soldiers grabbed him under the arms and pulled him the rest of the way out. Everything was going quickly…too quickly. His head was still spinning from yesterday’s blow.
The scaffold was already set up and Robin tripped on the first step as the two soldiers dragged him up to the platform. Every time he tried to regain his footing, his knees smashed even harder into each sharp edge. Thud, thud, thud…His trousers were torn and his knees were scraped and bleeding.
The Sheriff of Nottingham, Robert de Rainault, and Sir Guy were standing, grinning as Robin was hauled into an upright position. He found it hard to stand and his mind was still swirling.
“Get on with it!” the Sheriff growled. “I am starving and I want my breakfast!” Both he and Gisburne looked about them with satisfaction at the large crowd that had gathered so early in the morning.
Robert de Rainault smiled to himself. Plenty of mouths to spread the word of Robin i’ the Hood’s actual demise.
Suddenly, two arrows flew through the air, hitting the soldiers holding Robin up on either side. As he crumpled with them to the wooden floor, Robin heard Herne’s voice in his head, Run, my son, run now!
In the confusion, Robin blindly got to his feet and ran back down the stairs he had been pulled up only moments before. At the bottom, he just kept running. He couldn’t see or hear or feel. He never heard the Sheriff angrily barking orders, the cheers of the people as they parted to let him pass, nor the touch of their hands brushing their fingertips against his sleeves as they pressed forward and closed ranks behind him. He just ran. He climbed up stray carts of straw and kindling to get over the wall. He jumped and rolled and stood back up again. He fled across the grass and into the trees before collapsing face down in the grass. Then, everything was darkness once again.
Marion and rest of the outlaws had been moving quickly through the night. They knew their way in the forest, so there were few stumbles, and a bright moon shone through the trees like the sun. Each was trying not to admit that they had no plan. They just had to rely on Herne.
As daylight began replacing the moonshine, the outlaws neared the castle. Still in the forest, they could hear shouting and cheering. Directly in front of them, they heard a loud crashing and a thud. Rushing forward, they were surprised to find Robin lying at their feet!
The next time Robin opened his eyes, he was on his back and looking at Marion.
“Robin? Robin, my love? Can you hear me? Robin?” Marion’s voice was soft, desperate, and teary.
Robin managed a nod and drifted back into blackness…
Robin lay on the pallet looking at the thatched roof. What do I do now? His mind went back over the past few weeks. He had been told that two men in the crowd were responsible for the arrows, Marion and his men had found him lying just within the trees outside of Nottingham Castle, and Scarlet walking around outside mumbling something about, “never even needed a plan…”
Gisburne, of course, was combing the countryside looking for Robin. When Guy would come close to finding the outlaws, they would quickly move to another village.
The people were in even more awe of their hero, Robin ‘i the Hood, and felt it was either an honour or a duty to help him now. It, also, added some excitement to their dull daily routines and everyone knew storytelling and bragging rights of helping ‘The Wolfshead’ would get them through the rest of their lives.
Although Scarlet had often thought the ‘take from the rich and give to the poor’ policy was stupid, he found that his nay-saying was proving false in the face of the willing silence and the help of ‘Robin’s people’.
Marion was free to fuss over Robin, who, in turn, assigned tasks to keep the others busy: fletching new arrows, hunting, spying, repair work on buildings in the villages as payment for the villagers’ help, and, Tuck’s favourite, cooking up a large meal for everyone, while silently offering up a lot of prayers to God.
“I seem to know how to keep everyone busy,” Robin sighed from his pallet. “I guess I am a leader…”
“And you always balked at that thought,” Marion chided him.
“Hmm…” And Robin fell back into silence and his internal musings.
Marion shook her head slightly with a small frown, thinking, For just a second there… Then, she left to do some washing, leaving Robin alone with Little John.
The big man squatted next to Robin and stroked his beard. He’d always been good with children and now he launched into another cute story of one of the villager’s children at play and how he hoped to have some of his own one day on a nice farm.
Robin looked at him and thought, Maybe sooner than you think. Aloud he interrupted with, “John? Should anything happen to me, would you take Much north with you? I have no worries about the rest. Even Marion can fend for herself. But I do worry about Much.”
John Little assured Robin that Much was the same as a brother to him as the lad was to Robin and didn’t know if he were happy or sad to see a faint smile on Robin’s face.
What is he thinking? And John rubbed his beard again.
The Sheriff was beside himself with fury. Pacing up and down his largest room, de Rainault cursed first Robin, then Gisburne, then God; and, finally, King Richard for being away so much. Almost foaming at the mouth, the veins were standing out on his forehead. All his servants and soldiers avoided him, which also explained why Sir Guy was so busy looking through the forest. He was actually avoiding the castle himself - something that was a bit amusing to his men, as they knew how much he hated sleeping outdoors!
The outlaws and the villagers had managed to keep Robin hidden, but now his time was up, as a party of the Sheriff’s men was heading their way. Someone had finally sold Robin out for a pretty pound or two. Nottingham Castle, as did most everyone by now, knew the truth that Robin, himself, couldn’t face. His knees were broken and he would never walk again.
Right after the messenger of the bad tidings had left, Robin told Little John to lift him and carry him outside to the field, just a short distance from the hut.
“When I nod, push me up into a standing position and hold me there.” Robin instructed him.
“No arguments. Just do it.”
Little John knew that if he did as Robin said, the damage would be complete. No hope left at all. But they had to do something and he knew that Robin had a plan to at least save this village.
The men rode in on the opposite side of the village and the captain demanded the people turn Robin Hood over to him.
Robin shouted at the top of his lungs. “I AM OVER HERE! COME AND GET ME, IF YOU WANT ME!” And he rose out of the long grass, standing on his own two feet.
From where they were sitting on their horses, the soldiers could see the scabby red knees, where Robin had quickly removed the bandages, but not John holding Robin upright with both hands on his rear end, while lying hidden in the grass. Their eyes grew wide and their mouths dropped open. Everyone knew Robin couldn’t stand, walk, or even fight. And here he was, challenging them! They looked at each other in confusion, just as Robin had prayed to Herne they would.
“WELL? I STAND HERE WAITING!”
“Let us get Gisburne first,” one of them said and the others agreed. They looked to the captain, who turned in his saddle to see the fear showing in their eyes. He nodded and they all turned their horses around.
Robin pulled at his bottom lip and raised his voice again before they could leave. “IF YOU HARM ONE PERSON OR BUILDING IN THIS VILLAGE, I WILL FIND EACH ONE OF YOU…PERSONALLY!”
They kicked their horses into a full gallop and were gone.
Robin collapsed on Little John as the villagers cheered. Marion and the other outlaws had come out of various huts to witness what had just taken place. They ran over to Robin. His knees bleeding again. Marion wrapped them as the rest of the band readied their horses and got the litter. They needed to leave here, quickly. The villagers brought them some food and waved the outlaws on their way.
Awhile later, the outlaws stopped in one of their old camps in the forest and Marion jumped off her horse. “Just what did you think you were doing?”
Robin shrugged. “The only thing I could think of at the time…”
“Oh, Robin. What am I going to do with you? What?” And Marion shook her head, balling her little hands into fists, and walked away, tears in her eyes.
Dawn was breaking as Robin reached one of the circles of stones that dotted the English countryside. He slipped off the unsaddled horse and crumpled to the ground on his back. He rolled himself over and, with his hands and forearms, pulled himself into the center of the circle He turned on his back and raised himself on his forearms, to look at the sun shining fully in the sky and then down at his bloody knees with the unwound bandages trailing along the path he had just taken.
“HERNE! WHERE ARE YOU? HERNE! CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT I AM NO GOOD TO ANYONE LIKE THIS? NO GOOD AT ALL! WHY DID YOU HEAL ME ENOUGH TO GET AWAY, ONLY TO LEAVE ME LIKE THIS? TAKE ME, HERNE! TAKE ME!”
Robin fell backward, tears streaming from his eyes. They were tightly shut now from the pain. Not just the physical pain, but, also, the pain deep in his heart, which had given up all hope for a future.
His voice was barely audible as he continued, more to himself, than Herne. “Now, Herne, now. If you ever really thought of me as your son, end it now. You can choose another. You can do that. Just take me from this life…take me…please…” His voice trailed away.
Marion and the rest of the outlaws had awakened to find Robin gone and a voice had told Marion to look for him at the nearest circle of standing stones. As they dismounted next to Robin’s horse, they could see their leader lying in the center of the stone circle. They froze, watching as a small dark cloud slid over the sun and a lightning bolt shot out of it and into Robin’s chest. Robin cried out in pain. His body convulsed once and then lay perfectly still.
Clutching Albion, Marion screamed at the same time as Robin and felt a small jolt. Now, they all found their legs could move and they ran to him. Dropping to her knees, Marion took Robin’s head into her lap and started to cry. The rest of the outlaws joined her on the ground around Robin’s body.
“Robin.” It was barely a whisper. “Oh, why, Robin, why? Leave me not, my husband. Leave me not. Oh, my love. My Robin…” Marion bent over and kissed Robin, letting her hair fall around his head.
Marion, Scarlet, and Nasir were on one side. Little John and Much were on the other side, while Tuck prayed over Robin’s seemingly lifeless body. Much’s hand was on Robin’s leg, below the knee, and he was sobbing openly. Tears filled the eyes of the rest, pouring down their cheeks, except for Will.
Scarlet was red in the face. “Damn you, Robin. Damn you to hell!”
That brought Marion out of her daze. She sat up, putting Robin’s head back on the ground, and reached for Albion, which she had dropped on the ground behind her. She placed the sword on Robin’s body, the hilt on his chest, the tip on his knees.
“Everyone!” Marion looked at the other outlaws urgently. “Put one hand on Albion and one hand on Robin!” The others stared wide-eyed at Marion and then at Robin. In frustration, Marion said, “Well, don’t just sit there! Do it!”
Each of the outlaws did as they were told.
Marion looked up at the little cloud hanging over them. It seemed to float in the middle of the sun, leaving the rest of the sky clear, with a shadow over Robin and themselves. Keeping her eyes on it, Marion cried out in a forceful voice. “HERNE! WE CALL ON THE POWERS OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS! WE CALL ON THE POWER OF ALBION! YOU SAID IT WOULD PROTECT HIM! YOU SAID HE COULD TRUST IN YOU, AS HIS FATHER! ROBIN I’ THE HOOD! WOLFSHEAD! THE SON WHO ALWAYS POSSESSED THE POWERS OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS! WE CALL ON YOU TO GIVE HIM BACK TO US!”
Every hand touching Albion began to tingle. The sensation moved up the arm, through the heart and back down the other arm into the hand touching Robin.
There was a loud clap of thunder and Robin’s body jolted, just as it had from the lightning strike. Robin’s eyes flew open and turned to the woman hovering over him. “Marion?”
As suddenly as it had appeared, the cloud slid off the sun, now shining full upon them.
Robin breathed deeply. “Why? Why, Marion? Why did you call me back? I was walking with Herne. I am no good to anyone like this!”
All the outlaws were startled back into reality when Much jumped to his feet. He was looking down and his mouth was moving wordlessly. His eyes were huge and round in his pale wet face. He finally started jumping up and down, pointing at Robin’s legs. By this time, Robin had raised his upper body onto his forearms and the others all turned away from Much.
They sharply pulled their hands off Albion. There were Robin’s legs, bare from the lower thighs down. The scrapes, blood, and swelling were gone. They looked as they had always looked, right down to the little scars from running through the brush in Sherwood.
Marion lifted Albion from Robin’s body and he stood up, gingerly testing his legs. He flexed up and down and then walked a little way from the outlaws. Soon, they were all standing, laughing, crying, and hugging each other.
As Robin tuned back to look at them, he saw them dancing around in circles doing a jig. He started to join them, when his eyes spotted something on the horizon behind them. Robin picked up Albion from the ground and, grabbing Marion’s arm, started to run.
“COME ON, EVERYONE! NOW!” he shouted over his shoulder.
Without thinking, the outlaws started to run, before they even felt the ground moving from approaching horses’ hooves. Robin let go of Marion, so she could lift her skirts. Looking over their shoulders, they saw the Sheriff of Nottingham reaching the outer edge of the small stone circle. De Rainault, Gisburne and the soldiers sat with open mouths as they watched Robin Hood running away…
This is the only story I wrote during the series. From here, I started my own AU series of ‘Robin of Sherwood,’ starting with the ‘Nothing’s Ever Forgotten’ trilogy. It is the first story I put down in writing. It was very slightly re-edited from a script. I ask that you not judge my other stories by the quality of this one. A new writer thanks you very much for your patience.