Hey, y’all!!! Wow, it’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted chapters for Robyn Hood (like four whole months!). Truth was, I haven’t been very motivated to work on it lately and was honestly gonna stop sharing them on TWN. HOWEVER, lucky for all of you, two awesome girls (Trixie and Anna) were asking me to write more and it was just the motivation I needed. So THANK YOU SOOO MUCH, TRIXIE AND ANNA!!!!!! Y’all are just sooo awesome and I’m sooo sorry how long it took me to return to this story! But I have made my return and got y’all a bit of a longer chapter to make up for my absence. 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy this one and lemme know in the comments your thoughts!!!!!!!
Soooo without further ado, I present to you chapter six of my YA reimagining of Robin Hood: WHAT LAY BEYOND THE WOODS!!!!!!!! *cue the fanfare*
For the next two days, I pushed myself harder than ever before. Little John, Scarlet, Stutely, and I took a few breaks and when we did rest, it was only for a couple of minutes or however long it took to choke down a small repast, stretch our feet out, and convince ourselves to return to our journey. My feet were blistered and sore. I rubbed the back of my neck, but didn’t stop moving.
Scarlet, who apparently knew more about Leulnia than the rest of us, led on. He claimed we would reach the northern border and be able to cross out of merry England into a land I knew nothing about.
Secretly, I hoped he was wrong. Thievery, lies, archery, evading the Sheriff’s men were easy things to me. I knew their plans, motives, and moves like the back of my own hand. England was my home. I had traversed many of its countrysides and cities. But this new land, this unknown kingdom, was foreign to me. I would rather face Calvin Taylor – even Guy of Gisborne – than a situation I wouldn’t know what to do.
There was a reason why my band of merry men looked to me, how I had escaped the arrogant noses of the old Sheriff of Nottingham’s guards. A reason how I became the boldest outlaw in all of merry England. I knew how to win.
But now, I knew only how to keep one foot in front of the other and pray my journey went smooth. But did God listen to the pleas of an outlaw? And why was I, a thief, attempting to be a hero? This was foolish!
But folly was how I’d been able to escape my close-call situations. All it took was one moment to stop and think and Calvin Taylor’s men would be upon you.
I shook my head as soon as Will Scarlet abruptly stopped. Stutely, who had been watching the trees’ rustling leaves, collided into Scarlet’s back. The two of them toppled to the ground and Little John let out a hearty round of laughter. I couldn’t stop myself from smirking a bit.
“Why’d you stop?” Stutely asked, rubbing his back from the hard fall.
Scarlet’s solemn face sent my heart to the pit of my stomach. “This is the end.”
“The end?” Little John questioned.
I filled in for my nephew. “We’re here.”
Pushing past my men, I didn’t hesitate to take the final step in England and pass over to new land. Unknown territory. My heart pounded harder.
Scarlet led us to a small village that was supposedly a few miles away from the heart of Leulnia and the palace. I intended to stay as far away from nobles and royalty as was humanly possible. We just needed to find a monk or anyone willing to read the map without questions.
The village smelled mostly of horse manure, but it was the loudest place I’d ever been to. Everyone had something to shout to their neighbor or just that random man walking down the street. I brushed the dirt off my skirt, wishing I had brought a longer one from the glares many of the folk in this village offered to me, and marched through the dusty, dirt street.
Scarlet took us to the other end of the village where a rotting inn rested. The slight breeze caused the wooden sign to sway and create an awful creaking sound. I squinted to make out the fading letters but the language was not my own. From a grimy window, I could make out some tables scattered around and a few rowdy men. The smell of freshly baked bread warmed my growling stomach. It almost drowned out the stomach-twisting smell of October’s brewing. Stutely, however, rubbed his hands together and licked his chapped lips.
I rolled my eyes while Little John opened the door. Immediately, I cringed at the piercing croaking sound it made, not to mention the loud shouts of men who were enjoying themselves way too much. My band of outlaws didn’t seem bothered by the noise, but I was used to that. They always claimed I had the ears of a hawk, but I rather thought of it as them all having dull ears. But when you spend as much time hunting deer and staying keen to the sounds around you in hopes that enemies aren’t lurking, I guess one had to adapt to a strong hearing.
Though, I only slightly believed my own theory.
“I’ll get us a couple rooms,” Scarlet offered.
“Aye,” Little John said and guided the rest of us to a scuffed-up table near the back of the room.
I sank into a rickety chair, grateful for the shadows concealing us. Some of the men gave us quick glances, no doubt wondering where we were from. Our accent clearly depicted us as English, and I inwardly cursed myself for not being better prepared.
I drummed my fingertips on the rough wood, letting all my senses stay on high-alert. The strange looks being thrown our way, the hushed whispers, and the fact that the door was on the opposite end of the inn made my heart pounded hard and loud. Deep breaths. Calm down. I wiped my sweaty palms on my Lincoln green skirt and took a second anxious glance around the room. Would Scarlet hurry up and get us those rooms? I needed to get out of sight, needed to disappear in the shadows–the nooks, crannies, and corners.
Instead, I had to sit here like a deer waiting for its death. Argh. My hands balled into fists as my whole body went rigid. What was wrong with me? I used to be able to handle loud, crowded areas like this. But all I could think about was how peaceful the greenwood was, how much I missed the smell of sweet grass in the morning. The chirping birds and fresh, clean air. Not this stinkpot. I was sure even the royal dungeons were cleaner than this place, though I never wanted to confirm that theory.
Suddenly, a huge hand clasped around my small, calloused one. I snapped my head to Little John as he squeezed my hand. Glaring at his hand over mine, I pulled away and stood.
Something flickered across his face, but it quickly dispersed so I couldn’t tell what the emotion was. Anger? Frustration? Sadness? My heart lurched to my throat. No, this was too close. He was too close. This room was too small, and I couldn’t breathe.
Why couldn’t I just play the part of the girl everyone saw? Why couldn’t I stay calm and handle these situations better. But my emotions were wired and felt like I had been drinking sweet October’s brewing all through the night. Only to wake up groggy and with a bare memory of what had happened last night.
Scarlet returned just as I was about to burst out of here. He gripped the strap of the quiver of arrows on his back so tightly, his knuckles turned white.
“What now?” I asked. Obviously an event-free journey wasn’t to be given, was it?
“I have a bad feeling about this place, Robyn.” Scarlet warily eyed our surroundings. Did he have to remind me how cramped we were in here?
“We need to get out of the opening and stay somewhere tonight,” Little John said. “We’ll make it work.”
The group turned to me for the final say. I sighed and nodded my head at Little John. “He’s right. We have to stay here tonight. Did you get us a room?”
Scarlet nodded and then motioned for us to follow him up the spiral, rickety staircase. I threw my head back and ignored the looks the tables we passed by gave us. No one ever said it was easy being Robyn Hood, but I had always found a way to work it all out before. I could do it again, right? Besides, we were just going to be staying the night and would be gone at first light. Yes, and then I’d shake the dust of this town off my worn boots and never look back.
Scarlet led us to a room at the end of the hall, and I was reminded of the one downside to traveling with a group of men.
“The rooms here are expensive. I didn’t want to use all our funds, so I thought it best to only get one.”
I nodded as Little John tensed.
The room wasn’t bigger than a horse’s stall. But I savored the single window between the two cots. Even though the panes were grimy, I could still see the beautiful moon overhead. It was the one thing I could take with me from Sherwood, not to mention the only bit of light we could get in this stuffy room.
I took one of the cots and Scarlet took the other one. Little John and Stutely laid down on the floors and soon settled into a deep snoring. I rolled over and tried to fill my mind with thoughts of my precious forest. Sherwood was more of a home to me than any place I had ever been. My heart involuntarily constricted, but I refused to let the memory of my father hurt me anymore. He was gone now, anyway.
I’d never see him again. At least, I didn’t plan to. What would he say if he knew his daughter, Robyn of Locksley Town, was really the infamous rebel known all through Merry England? No, don’t think about that. I was finished with my old life, and I was finished with him.
I let those thoughts finally take me on to sleep. Well, if you called tossing and turning and moving around in any position that might offer a smidge of comfort sleeping.
But my pitiful sleep was interrupted after an hour or two when a hand slammed over my mouth, preventing me from screaming. I shot my eyes open as a young boy’s face filled my vision. From the shadows, all I could make out were two bright green eyes narrowed on me.
As something sharp pressed against my throat, the boy muttered, “If you fight, I’ll kill you. Understand?”
I nodded only because he had the upper hand with his knife against my throat. But I’d turn the tables soon. For now, it was best to play his games. I was always good at games.
“Come with me,” he whispered. And I knew I had to follow orders. Play the good, obedient girl for once. My father should be proud, my mind grumbled.