Tales Of Sherwood, Part 1
submitted June 1, 1998
Categories: Medieval Romance
This is a re-telling of Robin Hood (no particular version). I hope that you enjoy my view of what I think should've happened in Sherwood Forest ;) Any feedback would be greatly appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org). DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE UNDERAGE OR OFFENDED BY MALE-MALE SEX.
"So love's not a simple thing; nor are truths unwavering. Like the moon's pull and the tide, our fingers touch, our hearts collide. I'll be a moon's breadth from your side."
-- Loreena McKennitt, "Samhain Night"
William of the Redwood strode idly through the forest. The wind blew softly through the trees, brushing gently against the leaves, rustling them just enough to create a slight cacophony of whispers.
William drew in a breath and exhaled, the close-to-autumn air fresh and cool. He decided not to hurry. It would be some time before Cedric of Nottingham would catch up to him. He mused, smiling, at how easy it had been to escape from the Sheriff's jail. This was the fourth time he had done it. It was almost too easy.
The dogs were a problem, though. He knew he could only evade them for so long. This time, he had thrown them off his scent by spreading strong, pungent spices along his trail as he ran. He had pilfered said spices not even a hundred footsteps from the jailhouse.
He couldn't understand why the Sheriff seemed to have it in for him. He had committed no crime that he was aware of, save stealing the spices just a while ago.
He stopped by a stream and took a drink. The babbling of the water over stones was peaceful. He washed his face and looked up. If he could make it to Sherwood Forest, the Sheriff would not pursue him there. It was rumored that Sherwood was haunted, by the vengeful spirits of the impoverished whom the Sheriff and his men had tortured and imprisoned in the past. William had heard that these spirits also watched over and protected the poor, as well as those like Robin Hood who defended them.
But Sherwood was at least a day away on foot, but only a couple of hours by horse. If only he could procure one ...
He turned at the sound of faint hoof beats and distant barking. Without even thinking, he jumped into the water and began to run upstream. This direction would take him farther away from Sherwood, but the water would mask his scent. He brushed a stray wisp of reddish-brown hair our of his eyes and continued to plod through the water for another half-hour.
William came to a dead stop, leaning down to catch his breath. When he'd caught it, he began to run again, not even looking up first. He ran right into what felt to him like a side of beef. He fell backward, landing on his rear end on a rock in the stream.
"Well, well," came a deep, familiar voice, one William dreaded. "It looks as though our little girl has been captured. Yet again!"
William looked up into the visage of the Sheriff. His hair was so light blond it was nearly white. His beard was a darker shade, and a little dirty.
"Trying to make it to the haunted wood again, Princess?"
He hated it when Cedric referred to him as a female.
Cedric grabbed William by the arm and pulled him up. "You will NOT escape me ever again, little girl!"
"Why? Why, Sheriff? Why do you wish to imprison me? I've evaded no taxes, ignored no debts, nor have I killed. Why do you insist upon having me stay in that dank cell?"
"I have my reasons, woman." Cedric grinned.
"What must I do to stay out of your prison? Have I wronged you or one of your family? Please tell me of my wrongdoing so that I may correct it and leave this place."
Cedric took a step closer to him, not releasing his grip on William's arm. "Well, there is ONE way that I will allow you to clear your transgressions." The Sheriff raised an eyebrow.
William managed to wriggle free. "Never! NEVER with you, you soiled pig!"
Cedric backhanded William, his ring scraping the edge of William's eyebrow. The Sheriff grabbed him and handed him over to two of seven large men who had just arrived. "Take him back to the cell!" Cedric barked. "And I want a CONSTANT watch on him this time!"
William slept in the corner of the cell on a pallet of straw and wisteria leaves. Ironically, he was comfortable and slept uninterrupted through the night. He awoke refreshed and sat up.
The guard had left him a paltry breakfast. A bowl of gruel and a tankard of milk. William took a sip of the milk and then spit it out. Sour. Probably specifically dictated by the Sheriff that it be so. He spooned the gruel into his mouth, finding little taste beyond that of wet paper pulp. But he needed to eat, so he finished it and then tossed the bowl against the stone wall.
William laughed as the bowl shattered into several irreparable pieces. This got the guard's attention. The bulky man was at the door in an instant, peering through the small square opening. "Was that really necessary?!"
"Go to a sow and suckle it!" William spat.
"Watch your words, little girl! The Sheriff will have your head if you do not behave!"
William walked right up to the window and spat in the guard's face.
"Why I --"
"You'll WHAT? Injure me? KILL me, perhaps? DO it! I DARE you!" William knew that his dare would pass unanswered. He knew that Cedric would want him unscathed, save for his own abuse.
The guard grimaced, remembering Cedric's threat if the young man was harmed by any but he. "Fahhh!!" the guard yelled and walked back to his post.
A little while later, Cedric paid William a visit, peering through the window in the cell door. "Ah, and how is my little girl this noon?"
William ignored him.
"I trust that your meal was sufficient?"
William stood, taking the tankard of unconsumed milk with him. "The milk is sour, Sheriff," he said, putting a venomous emphasis on the last word. "Unfit to drink."
"Oh, certainly it cannot be that bad."
William threw the liquid at the Sheriff, coating his face. A little of it seeped into his mouth. "Now tell me it isn't sour."
"This milk is ... not only milk!" Cedric tried to think of what it tasted like. "It's ... salty!"
"Of course it is. I relieved myself in it earlier!"
Cedric grabbed the guard's keys and was beginning to unlock the door when he was interrupted by a shout from behind. "Sheriff! The Prince requires your immediate presence!"
The Sheriff wiped his face and regarded the man who had spoken. "Tell him that I will arrive shortly."
"Yes, sir!" The messenger left.
Cedric turned back to William. "This is FAR from over, missy! When I return, you will be all mine! And no one will be able to save you!"
"Robin Hood will rescue me!" William blurted out, without previous thought.
"That rogue can't save you. I will see to that personally!" The Sheriff left.
William shook his head and looked Heavenward. "Dear Goddess of the sky, what have I DONE?" he pondered.
Night fell and the Sheriff had not returned from his audience with Prince Ian. William peered out through the bars of his window, which was at ground level, and watched as the marketplace closed for the evening. Just then, a young woman came running towards the window. "William?"
"Laurel! Thank the Goddess! I prayed you would show up!"
"I came as quickly as I could when I heard you were here." She knelt down, reached through the bars and clasped her friend's shoulder.
"Laurel, I need your help! The Sheriff is away at an audience with Prince Ian. He could return at any moment. I need you to get a message to Robin Hood for me. The Sheriff wants to beat me to a pulp and then have his way with me."
"I know that you can contact Robin Hood."
"Yes, my cousin's best friend is part of Robin's group."
"It is of utmost importance that you get a message to them, Laurel. You've known me for a while now. You know that I'm no criminal!"
"That is the truth, my friend. I will go now and pass your message on."
"Thank you, dear Laurel! And prithee make haste!"
Robert of Locksley awoke in the morning and rolled over. He ran his hand across the fabric of his makeshift mattress and sighed. It had been many years since his companion had passed on.
His thoughts were interrupted when one of the men in his band, Gunther, walked into his room. "Robert, an urgent message has come to me by way of a friend's cousin. The Sheriff has imprisoned an innocent man and is planning to do unspeakable things to him. The prisoner has requested our assistance."
Robert got to his feet and put on a fresh tunic. "Then he shall have it. Gather Colin, Brian, Clarence, and Jonathon. I want you to come along as well, Gunther."
Gunther nodded. "As you wish, Robert. I will have the other men assembled and ready shortly."
"Good. Let's teach old Cedric a lesson."
William waited anxiously in his cell. Night time was near and the Sheriff had not yet returned from seeing Prince Ian. Perhaps that was a good sign, he wondered. Every moment that went by seemed like an hour.
He heard voices at the door, but they were far too low for him to understand what was being said. Then, the voices became louder. "I am telling you, Sheriff Cedric sent me personally to gather the prisoner and bring him to Prince Ian's castle at once!"
"I don't believe you."
There was a thud and the jingling of keys. William backed up against the wall. The door flew open and in stepped a black-haired, large-framed man. He wore a mustache, connected a beard that covered only his chin. A green cloth mask was covering his face, with holes cut out for each eye. "You are to come with me, young man. The Sheriff requires your presence."
"I will NOT go with you just so that ... barn animal can ogle me!"
The man leaned in a little and whispered, "We received Laurel's message and are here to rescue you. I would advise that you help us to perpetuate this ruse." He leaned back and spoke louder. "Fine, then! I will take you by force!"
The man gently took William by the arm and led him out of the cell. The guard outside by the door had been cold-cocked and lay sprawled out on the floor. The two men walked past him and out to the main hallway. They were met by five other men, all dressed similarly to the man who was escorting William. All of them wore similar masks, but each was a different color.
"Are all of the guards taken care of?" the first man asked the others.
"Yes, Robert," the answer came from a man wearing a yellow mask.
"Good," Robert said. "Let's leave before Cedric returns!"
They went outside and were just getting ready to mount their horses when the Sheriff and his entourage were returning. "What the devil ...," Cedric began.
The other five of Robert's men had had just enough time to knock arrows and were aiming them at Cedric's men. "We are liberating this young man who is innocent of any crime you may or may not have accused him of," Robert spoke up. "If you make a move to stop us, we will kill you. Understood?"
Cedric and his men were silent.
"Go on ahead of us, Robert," the man wearing the blue mask said. "We will provide cover for you."
Robert nodded to him and helped William onto his horse. He mounted behind the erstwhile captive and placed his arms around the young man's waist. The two of them rode off, while the other men held the Sheriff and his group at bay.
"So what is your name?" Robert asked the young man as the rode toward Sherwood.
"William. William of the Redwood."
"How appropriate. Redwood, like the color of your hair."
"Thank you for saving me, Robert. Are we going to see Robin Hood once we get to the forest?"
"My dear boy, I AM Robin Hood."
William shuddered. "You are he?"
"I don't follow. The others called you Robert."
"Robert is my given name. Locksley is my surname. The name 'Robin Hood' was bestowed upon me by one of Sheriff Cedric's men. He called me that name, but his English was less than perfect. The name means 'Robbing Hood,' the first word having been shortened."
The horse slowed as a light, melodic din greeted them. It was a sound like wind chimes and wooden flute intertwined. The sound abruptly stopped. William peered ahead of him.
Before them lay a shallow, slowly-flowing river and a dense woodland lining the opposite bank. Robert leaned forward, his beard gently brushing the skin below William's ear. It gave the younger man gooseflesh. "Look," Robert whispered. "That's Sherwood."
William leaned back a little into Robert. "Is it haunted?"
"Merely a man-made illusion. There are wind chimes all throughout the trees and woodwind instruments placed in positions that are just right for catching the wind. It serves to keep the superstitious away."
They crossed the river and went into the forest. There were several dwellings, all of various sizes and configurations. All of them were built from wood and had straw rooves. Robert stopped the horse and dismounted. He gently gathered William into his arms and helped him to dismount.
Robert took off his mask and smiled at William. Robert had eyes that were cobalt-blue. Eyes whose depth could rival that of an ocean. William stared at him and smiled. This man was beautiful. Robert ran the backs of his fingers across William's cheek. "Come with me," Robert said. "Let's get you bathed, into some clean clothing and into a bed. You need rest."
Robert led William to a small waterfall in the heart of the forest. "This is where we bathe." He removed his tunic. William looked him over. Robert's chest was well-developed, with a generous covering of black hair, which also covered his abdomen. Without thinking first, he stepped forward and ran his hands over Robert's chest.
"You like all that hair, do you not?"
William nodded, then placed his face onto Robert's chest and then licked each of his nipples.
A few moments later, both men were completely undressed. Robert took a bar of lye soap and each man washed the other's body. They kissed and rubbed their soapy bodies together. William's penis filled with liquid. He had always wanted to be with a man like this one.
"I would never violate your body like that evil Cedric wants to," Robin Hood assured him, and then kissed him. His beard brushed gently against William's chin and nose. They rubbed their bodies together while they kissed. They gently clasped one another's hardened organs.
"I want to feel you inside me, Robert," William whispered. The other man smiled and knelt down. He placed his mouth to the younger man's buttock opening and inserted his tongue. The sensation was pure pleasure for William, one that he had never before experienced. He shivered as the tongue inside went further in.
The tongue was soon replaced by Robert's penis. He buried it deep with William's opening. After William relaxed, Robert moved his hips back and forth. To William, the sensation was like fire at first, but then he got used to the "intrusion" he touched his own organ and rubbed it. Robert's arms embraced him while both men's bodies moved in unison. For William, the spasm was almost instantaneous. He felt his fluid spurt out of him.
As Robert's penis was being squeezed, he felt his own release occur. William felt the warm liquid fill his insides. He felt Robert's beard caressing his neck. Robert kissed the back of William's neck and gently licked it.
The two men went back to the forest village, arm-in-arm. The night sky was clear, and dotted with a myriad of stars. The air was fresh, almost as if it had just rained. Neither man spoke until they reached the edge of the village. "Robert?"
"That was the most beautiful experience of my life."
Robert smiled and kissed him. "You deserved it. You also deserve to live where the Sheriff and his men will not come after you. Will you stay in our village?"
"How could I refuse?"
Robert smiled. "I am glad."
"Robert, I want to join you. Your group. I ... what I mean is this: I want to help fight against the Sheriff."
"You would join our band of freedom fighters?"
"Yes! Without question."
Robin Hood kissed and embraced him. "Then we are one stronger today."
Robert and William crawled into bed and faced each other. The leader of the proverbial outlaws ran his hand through William's red hair. "Robert, I feel like I've known you all of the days of my life. I don't understand it. I had heard the stories about 'Robin Hood' and his 'merry men,' but I never thought ...," he trailed off.
"Ah, the legend our group has become. I'm still not accustomed to it myself."
William yawned. "I am exhausted."
"So am I." Robert extinguished the candle. William moved down a little, so he could nestle his face in the soft hair on Robert's chest. Robert kissed him on the crown of his head. "Have a good sleep, beautiful one."
William smiled and drifted off.
The next morning, William awoke and Robert had already risen, but was nowhere in sight. He threw on a tunic which ended just at his shins and ran outside.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining brightly and there were not clouds evident in the sky. He heard birdsong not too far away, and recognized it immediately. He looked around until he spotted the source, a cuckoo, in a nearby tree. The bird sang its song as if welcoming the morning.
"Good morrow," came Robert's voice from behind him.
He turned and smiled at his lover. William greeted him with a warm embrace.
They looked into one another's eyes and grinned. "I have something wonderful to tell you, William. I discussed bringing you into the fold with us and they wanted me to tell you that you have their unanimous support."
"That is great news!"
"Well, it's time that you were formally introduced to them." He led William to where the five men who had accompanied Robert to Cedric's jailhouse were standing, all wearing their masks from the day before.
One of them, a tall, dark-skinned man with black hair and dark brown eyes stepped forward. He removed his blue mask. "I am called Jonathon Azure."
William gave him a nod.
A second man stepped forward, a short blond with light brown eyes. He removed his yellow mask. "I am called Colin Jandis."
William smiled and gave this man a nod.
Another man, as tall as Robert and with dark brown hair and grey eyes stepped forward next. "I am called Gunther Schwartz."
Another nod from William.
The next man stepped up, a blond, but his hair was darker than Colin's. His eyes were amber. He removed his purple mask. "I am called Clarence Lavendar."
William nodded again.
The remaining man, a husky, well-built brunet with light green eyes, stepped forward and removed his orange mask. "And I am called Brian Narenjar."
William gave a final nod and turned to face Robert. "And with your green mask, you have almost all of the relevant colors."
"All except for one," Colin spoke up.
"We are hoping that you might help us fill that void," Robert said, placing his hand around William's waist.
"But, Sheriff, she went into the haunted wood," one of Cedric's men whined. "And I'm not going in THERE!" The man turned his horse and the two galloped away, leaving Cedric and six other men and their horses.
The Sheriff regarded his remaining men. "Well, who else refuses to enter the 'haunted forest'?!" he demanded.
All of the men exchanged looks. One of them shrugged and rode away. The remaining six did not move.
Cedric was about to speak, but the sound of faint wind chimes intermingled with soft, flute-like music prevented him from doing so. Immediately, two of the men rode off. One more followed them a few moments later.
The ghostly music continued, and the Sheriff glared at his remaining trio of men. "Go on! Remove yourselves from my sight!!" The last three men let out a unisonic sigh of relief and left Cedric all by himself.
He faced the forest from the edge of the opposite river bank. "Your ghosts will not protect you forever, Robin Hood! I will round up each and every one of you and see to it that you are all put to death!!"
The wind chimes clanged and rang out sharply, as if in reply to the Sheriff's threat. The sudden cacophonous sound made Cedric jump a bit. He took one last look at the forest and then rode away.
Robert patted William's thigh. They sat together in one of the many trees rigged with wind chimes and bells and giggled as they watched Cedric ride off in disgust. They climbed down and joined the other men on the ground.
"Well," Gunther said, "I certainly think you've earned the right to wear this." He handed William a red cloth mask.
"Thank you." William donned the mask and turned to Robert. "Well?"
"It befits you, my love. Certainly, since you have a new name. Wear it well."
Will Scarlet smiled at, kissed, then embraced his lover.