Off on a mission

Sherwood Forest

 

“Master, we can’t let them hang Allan,” Much said excitedly.
Robin was thinking hard and had not heard Much.
“Master, if the Sheriff kills Allan then he wins and that would be-,” Much tried to make a point, but was cut short.
“Much, just hush. We need to think and that cannot be done while you are telling us what we already know, all right?” Djaq knew only too well that Much would not be helping anyone with his verbal thinking! Much was used to be told to hold his tongue, and for a good reason, so he sat down and thought, silently.
“Robin, any plan?” Little John wondered aloud.
Robin felt he had to be strong, or at least appear it, so, picking up his bow, he said, “I have a plan, well, half a plan.”
The outlaws knew when Robin said that, he usually had no idea. Bearing this in mind Will said somewhat obviously, “You don’t have a plan, do you?”
Robin sighed before continuing, “It should be easy. Enter the castle, break into the dungeons, rescue Allan and any other prisoners, ‘rescue’ a few valuables, humble the Sheriff and Gisborne and then leave. But you’re right. I don’t have a clue HOW to do this. The whole place is locked down tight now and it is almost impossible to get into the castle grounds, let alone the dungeons!”
“Robin, we have to find a way to get in. The future of England could be at stake. Remember the Black Knights. No good can ever come out their plotting,” Djaq spoke urgently; she knew how much England meant to Robin.
“Right, I have a plan!” Robin informed the rest of his band.

“Well, that is the best news that I have heard, Robin, since I heard that you hadn’t died in the Sheriff’s snake pit. Believe me, it was terrifying to think of you being dead!” It was Much’s turn to rejoice.
“So what is your plan?” Little John and Will asked in unison, both eager to know.
 

 

*****
 

 

Nottingham Castle

 

A coach rumbled up to the castle gates and stopped, the horses welcoming the little rest.
“Who goes there?” Two guards walked over to the carriage to inspect its contents.
“Name?” barked the taller of the guards.
“Sir Walter,” replied the man, who had led the team of horses. He was dressed like a Black Knight.
“And your business?” asked the second guard as he inclined his head toward the carriage.
Sir Walter discreetly showed the guards a ring that, if looked at upside-down, looked like a jackal.
“Open the gates,” yelled the first guard to the gate-keeper. Then to Sir Walter he said, “Pass.”

As the carriage passed through the gates the occupants inside heaved a sigh of relief.
Because the carriage was small, and no guards walked in front to clear the way, the Sheriff, assuming that another load of grain had arrived, did not go out to meet it, but instead sent a guard to help unload the grain.
Expecting someone would come to give a thorough inspection of the carriage, Sir Walter thumped on its side and whispered, “Now lads, time to disappear!”
Out jumped a tall guard, wearing a uniform of black chain mail that didn’t quite fit. Next came two guards of medium height, one being slightly rounder than the other. And lastly, a robed figure and small of stature leapt nimbly from the carriage. Sir Walter walked round to the company and then led the band of guards through the crowd of marketgoers and into a narrow alley way. There Sir Walter removed his helmet revealing the face of Robin Hood! The rest followed suit and Little John, Will Scarlet, Much and Djaq could be seen standing there, waiting for a word from their leader.
 

*****
 

 

“Guards, you!” The Sheriff pointed to one of the ten guards that had answered his call, “You, go and help that man unload his cart. I suspect he is just delivering some grain, oh and while you’re at it you might as well make some money. You could charge him tax or something!”
“Yes M’lord,” answered the guard.
“And,” added the Sheriff, “if anything goes wrong, don’t come to me for help! I already have enough on my plate without having to bother about a merchant and his wares!”
“Yes M’lord. If anything goes wrong though-”
 “Go!”

“Enough on your plate?” questioned a voice behind the Sheriff.
“Yes,’ answered the Sheriff without thinking about who he was talking to.
“Did you heed this morning’s advice and buy tongue from the market, or maybe you like pork. It’s your choice really.”
The Sheriff spun around and looked a Black Knight right in the face
“Who are you, Robin Hood?” the Sheriff demanded.
“No!” laughed the Black Knight, “I am Sir Walter of Surrey, and ever glad to be in your service.”
“Then ho-ow do you know about…tongue?”
“Word travels fast, Sir.”
“Oh no! So all the populace knows about my humiliation?”
“I’m afraid so. But all is not lost.”
“If they know, then they will pay!”
“And how will you make them pay?”
“When you and your fellow men are seated in the long hall, then I will tell you my plan.”
While they had been talking the Sheriff had guided Sir Walter to the balcony overlooking the long hall and the pair surveyed the vast space, empty save for the oversized table at the far end. Behind the table was a throne-like chair and in front, facing the table, were ten chairs arranged in a semi-circle. 

“Very well, but please do allow me to take a tour of the castle before we talk. I’ve never been here before,” Sir Walter continued.
“Ah, yes alright. But can you find your own way around? I have to make a few arrangements and-”
“Don’t worry, some of my guards have been here before. Besides, I don’t get lost easily. I have a wonderful sense of direction, maybe even as good as the great Robin Hood!”
“All right, but please don’t mention Robin. He is an enemy of the Crown and has a price on head; five hundred pounds, to be precise.”
“Five hundred pounds, that’s a lot!”
“Yes, and he’s worth every penny!”

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