Friday, October 23, 2009

Merry: a Sherwood Story

I'm waiting for a non-rainy day to take pictures of my costume for the fashion side of the Maid Marian's Wardrobe event (so far no luck-- it has been raining constantly for days!), but here's a short Robin Hood story I wrote for now. Enjoy!

by Evergreena

Robin has been living alone deep in Sherwood for almost a year after fleeing his band in shame when his cocky plans went awry and he accidently killed a man due to a poorly aimed arrow. He's finally mastered the art of the bow, and now it is time for him to return...

I whistled a never-ending tune as I departed from my gloomy haunt in Sherwood. I didn’t know what pace to set, for my heart throbbed with both eagerness and trepidation about my destination: home. I would be there very soon. Too soon. Not soon enough.

I tried to focus my attention on the different kinds of trees and birds, and perhaps that is why I forgot to watch for lookouts. I was admiring the plumage of an especially talkative robin when two men dropped on me from above and knocked me to the mossy roots of an oak. I kicked at my attackers and managed to dislodge one of the men, but the other simply flipped me over and pulled back my hood.

“You!” he gasped.

I laughed. “John! Are we doomed to forever be at odds? First you knock me senseless into a freezing stream—”

He got over his initial shock and stepped back. “What are you doing here?”

The other man approached us. He bent over and picked up his fallen cap. “You broke my feather, Robin,” he said, and held it up to prove it.

“Ah, Will. You’re still the local fashion disaster?” I mock-frowned at my old friend.

John pulled me to my feet. “We thought you were dead!”

“Or deserted,” added Will. “Or captured, or hiding… We thought we lost you for sure!”

We entered the nearby clearing, and John looked up at the canopy of oak trees. “The men must be aloft.”

I put my hood up to hide my face and turned to Will. “Get them down here. We have work to do.”

Will and John exchanged glances. I could tell they were remembering last time. But this time was going to be different. Robin was back, but I was no longer the inept churl with unsteady fingers. No, the hard months of winter in Sherwood had made me more than just a man. I was poised to become a legend. And it was time to make my band into one too. Marian’s words rang in my head. “You just have to find your calling, and I will support you; the others will follow!” she had said when I told her I was leaving. “But first you have to grow up!” I still remembered her sincere, angry eyes.

Will rang the rousing bell, and avoided looking at me. I heard groans and complaints in the trees above, and then the sound of rustling foliage as the weary men dropped down ladders and ropes. They lined up in a rather messy group in front of Will. I could see that winter had been as hard on them as on me. Their faces were a mixture of exhaustion and disgust, and very little hope. There were some muttered jibes behind backs and ruckus guffaws. But no one smiled. No true joy. Things looked grim.

They had no idea what I was about to do.

As soon as they had all arrived, I threw back my hood and stepped forward. When they saw me, they all began to murmur and shift feet. They hadn’t expected to see me ever again, I could tell. Ha. Let them see how much I had changed! Let them see my determination and newfound merriment! Yes, things were going to get good.

I whipped out my bow and showed it to them. “This, “ I said loudly, “is not just a bit of wood with a string. It is more than a weapon and more than a tool.” I held it above my head. “This is an icon! It is a symbol of our life. We are not much to look at, but we are strong, we are supple, and we are dangerous.”

At this I swept an arrow out of my sleeve, and to the men I suppose it appeared to come out of thin air. I drew back my bow easily, and took only half a second to aim… and released.

The goose-fletched arrow shot just above the ranks of men, who gasped and yelled and leaped away. It sailed on, right through it all, and disappeared in the thicket beyond.

I nodded to Much, the miller’s son. “You’ll find it in the knot of yonder oak.” He paled, but nodded and darted out of sight. A moment later he reappeared, holding the shaft of the arrow. “I— I couldn’t get the head out of the wood,” he said. “Too deep!”

The men looked at me again, and this time I saw fear. Did I go too far? Did they think I’d gone mad? Was there respect in that silence? I lowered my head and stared at my feet. One of my toes was peeking through the deerskin.

A sudden laugh burst on the camp with the shock of a hot stone falling from the sky. I looked up. All of the others turned to look, too, and in the very back of the group was Tuck, his eyes dancing and his robe quivering.

He laughed again, and this time it morphed into a giant belly-laugh. “Heavens, Robin! You’ve got your point across!”

A few of the others chuckled at Tuck’s joke while he doubled up and slapped his thighs. I grinned, and John came up behind me and gave my back such a clout that I thought I would fly all the way to the sheriff's front door. I coughed, and that made the rest of the band laugh.

John pulled my hood up and yanked it over my face. “We’ll have to call you Hood,” he said, “Robin of the Hood, because you don’t have anything else to your name!”

I spluttered and grabbed his massive elbow. “And you, my friend, I now dub ‘Little John!’”

The men roared. The whole forest rang with the sound of us! And that gave me an idea.

I hopped up on the speaking log. I rested my hands on my bow until the chuckles died down.

“I have returned to a merry band indeed. And we shall merrily revolt!”

Cheers rose up and gave me the resolve I needed. I belonged here. We were together again, and we had more than enough spirit to get through the coming storms. Laughter had united us.

John raised his voice above the rest and bellowed, “Huzzah for Robin Hood and his very merry men!”


I received many hearty thumps and greetings then, and I became alarmed when a sudden hush fell on the group. I turned and saw a figure in a cloak and hat leading a black stallion out of the trees. I lifted my bow slightly and nocked another arrow. “Come no further, stranger! What is your business here?”

“I am no stranger, Sir Robin Hood of Sherwood.”

Marian! I sucked in my breath and tried to decide what I should do with my bow.

She lifted her chin and stepped out of the shadows. Her dark tresses fell over her shoulders and down her back, and under her velvet cloak she wore a dress of Lincoln green. She curtsied and briefly bowed her head. “Let me assure you, not all of your lively followers are men," she said. "You have at least one friend who shall fight for you in skirts." She drew out a light sword and held it up in a high salute. "Welcome home, Robin," she said, and smiled at me. The whole world could be lit with that smile! Oh, merry!


Anonymous said...

I love it!!
"You broke my feather, Robin!"

Amanda Flynn said...

Lovely! I thoroughly enjoyed your approach on the classic! :)

Hepzibah said...

I have always wondered how Robin Hood became who he was! Oh, I loved it!