rusty_armour (rusty_armour) wrote,
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Birthday Fic: The White Stag



Title: The White Stag
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Robert of Huntingdon, Herne, Nasir, Will Scarlet, Little John
Category: General, mystical
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1408
Summary: When Robin struggles to decipher his latest vision, he receives help from an unexpected source.
Spoilers: Slight allusion to “The Betrayal”. Otherwise, only references to the show in general.
Notes: This is a birthday present for karen9. I managed to finish the story on time this year because it’s much shorter. I hope karen9 enjoys it.

The idea for the white stag actually came from a synopsis of the Look-In comic strips 1984/25 – 1984/30 provided by Andrew Orton in Hooded Man: Volume Two. In this particular story (titled “The White Stag” by Orton), the outlaws come across a white stag in Sherwood that they try to protect. I loved the idea of the white stag (especially given its association with Herne the Hunter), so I decided to borrow one for this fic. Stole the title as well. *g*

This story takes place some time after “The Time of the Wolf”.

Disclaimer: This story is based on Richard Carpenter's series Robin of Sherwood. The characters are the property of Richard Carpenter, Robin May, Anthony Horowitz and the RoS production team.


This story can also be found here on AO3.









“We were better off in the other cave,” Will said. “It was bigger, less damp.”

Much shifted, pulling a fur pelt more tightly around himself. “Aye, less drafty too.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “How long do you think we’ll have to stay here?”

“For as long as Robin says.” John’s tone brooked no argument, but Will, being Will, argued with it all the same.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Will said. “Why’s this cave so important?”

Tuck smiled. “Because of the vision.”

Will snorted. “A vision that’s led us nowhere.”

“Yet. You must have patience, Will.”

“It’s been three days!”

“And we’ll wait another three days if we have to.” John tossed a twig on the fire, ignoring the spark that almost landed in his beard. “When Robin knows, he’ll tell us.”

Outside the cave, Robin turned his head away from the entrance and sighed, watching his breath gather in a cloud of mist before being carried off on the wind. He had returned to the cave after walking around the perimeter, and had been looking forward to returning to the relative warmth of their shelter, when he’d caught a snippet of his friends’ conversation. Robin had stood outside, hidden from sight, debating whether he should enter or not. When he’d picked up on the topic of their discussion, he decided to remain hidden. Robin didn’t like eavesdropping on his friends, but, up until that point, they hadn’t shared their feelings with him and he had seen their frustration building. It was one of the reasons why he’d volunteered to take watch when it hadn’t been his turn.

Robin couldn’t blame them for being unhappy with the situation. His own patience was growing thin and he was feeling increasingly helpless. After that initial vision, there had been nothing. Worse than that, he’d lost all connection with Herne. He hadn’t heard Herne’s voice or felt his presence. Even when Robin had gone to seek out Herne, he hadn’t been able to find him. Herne had disappeared.

“Will’s always angry about something.”

Startled, Robin turned sharply towards the voice. He had been so engrossed in his thoughts that he hadn’t even seen Nasir leave the cave. Robin grimaced to himself. He was lucky that one of Gisburne’s men hadn’t snuck up on him.

Misinterpreting Robin’s expression, Nasir said, “Herne’s meaning will become clear. It always does.”

Robin slumped back against the rocky outcrop. “I’m not so sure.”

Nasir raised an eyebrow and tilted his head curiously.

“I seem to have lost him, Nasir. I haven’t felt his presence since the vision. I’ve searched everywhere I could think of and I haven’t been able to find him. I don’t know what’s happened to him.”

Nasir frowned thoughtfully. “He’s old and has been sick before. Maybe…” He trailed off as if even he, the former assassin, didn’t have the courage to speak that thought aloud. However, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t crossed Robin’s mind already, unwilling as he was to face such a prospect.

“Herne would have told me if he’d been dying, wouldn’t he?” Robin asked. “Why send me a vision of this cave – and all of us on a wild goose chase?”

“It is not a wild goose chase.” Nasir’s voice had gone even quieter than usual. It had a hushed, almost reverent quality to it. Then Nasir was tugging on Robin’s sleeve and directing his eyes to the line of trees on their right. With the blanket of snow covering everything, it was a moment before Robin spotted it. When he did see it, he gasped, his mouth almost falling open in surprise.

It was a white stag. There was no other way to describe the creature. The thick, pale coat blended entirely with the surroundings. Even the majestic pair of antlers faded into the background of bare trees. Only the stag’s dark eyes stood out, eyes that seemed to be watching them.

“Don’t shoot him,” Robin whispered.

Nasir nodded absently, apparently too transfixed to even consider reaching for his bow.

The white stag turned towards the trees and began walking slowly, tossing a look back at the outlaws.

“I think he wants us to follow him,” Robin said.

Nasir shook his head. “No, you go. I’ll get the others.”

“Yes, all right.” Robin could see the wisdom of Nasir’s plan. If this was a message from Herne, it might be for his son alone. Besides, two men were more likely to startle the deer than one.

Robin moved quickly over the snow. The stag had paused as if waiting for Robin to catch up. Then he continued on his way.

If it had been another deer, Robin was sure he would have frightened it by now. The sound of the snow crunching under his boots was loud to his ears. Only the tree branches creaking in the wind seemed to dull the noise. Robin studied the ground for any signs of a man’s tracks, but he could only see the hoofprints left in the snow by the white stag.

They hadn’t travelled far when the white stag began to slow down, and Robin was so close he could almost touch him. When the deer stopped on the edge of a ravine, Robin looked around in confusion. Is this what I was meant to see?

The white stag stomped a hoof, bowing his head so low that his antlers almost scraped the ground. Robin allowed his eyes to follow the movement, scanning the gorge carefully. Then, in a small recess, he noticed a man curled up on his side. Robin skidded down the steep hill and knelt beside the man, turning him on his back. As Robin had suspected, it was Herne.

Robin clamped two fingers against Herne’s neck, feeling for a pulse. He closed his eyes for an instant in relief when he found one then pulled Herne into an embrace, rubbing his back feverishly, trying to warm him up. When Robin lifted his eyes to the top of the ravine, the white stag was gone.

“Robin!” It was John’s voice and, even from a distance, Robin could hear the note of concern.

“Down here!” Robin shouted. “Hurry! It’s Herne!”

A moment later, Robin saw his friends scrambling down the hill. Tuck was panting from the strain and fell, more than sat, on the ground beside Robin. Tuck ran his hands over Herne’s limbs and torso, searching for wounds or breaks. Herne groaned when a hand landed on his shin.

“I think it’s broken,” Tuck said. “He must have got trapped down here. He looks half-frozen.”

Robin started rubbing Herne’s arms. “We have to get him somewhere warm – and fast. Duxford would be closest.”

“I’ll run ahead and tell Tom,” Much said, taking off up the hill.

Tuck shook his head. “He’ll slip and fall himself if he’s not careful.” He gazed down at Herne and frowned. “I don’t think there’s time to make a litter. John, can you carry him?”

“Aye. If I can lug you around, I reckon I can carry Herne to Duxford.” John bent over and hauled Herne across his shoulders. Tuck and Nasir hovered on either side of John as he made his way out of the ravine. Robin stood slowly, wondering why his legs felt like jelly.

“’E’ll be all right,” Will said.

“Yes, I’m sure he will be.” Robin forced a smile and took a step. Will’s arm shot out, barring Robin’s way. Then he was standing directly in front of him.

“You wouldn’t ’ave been guided ’ere if ’Erne was beyond saving now, would you?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“There’s no supposin’ about it. That vision you ’ad, the white stag you and Nasir saw: it couldn’t ’ave been for nothing.” Will squeezed Robin’s shoulder. “Come on. Get going. ’Erne needs you and the others will kill me if you start freezing to death too.”

Robin grinned. “Well, we can’t let that happen. Come on. It shouldn’t take long to catch up with them.”

The white stag appeared one last time before the outlaws reached Duxford. They had been about to head up the trail leading to the bridge when they found the deer blocking their path. Everyone stopped and stared at the white stag, barely daring to breathe. An instant later, they heard several horses galloping over the bridge. Once the soldiers had passed, the white stag dashed off the trail and back into the trees.

Crossposted at http://rusty-armour.dreamwidth.org/133172.html

Tags: fic, ros
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  • 12 comments

karen9

February 27 2015, 07:00:26 UTC 1 year ago Edited:  February 27 2015, 13:33:20 UTC

This is such a great surprise! Thank you so much, rusty_armour. It's an excellent fic and I enjoyed it a lot. All our friends are in perfect character. I love the white stag.This has really made my birthday!
Happy Birthday, karen9! :-D I'm extremely glad that you enjoyed this little fic. It's great to know that all of the characters seemed in character and that you loved the stag. Best of all, I'm happy this was a pleasant surprise on your birthday. :-)
What a great story! Now I'm feeling all nostalgic for RoS. :)
Oh, thank you! I'm so happy you enjoyed the story! :-D

I'm thrilled that this fic actually made you feel nostalgic for RoS. I've been slowly re-watching the whole series and have gone through about half of the third season in the last couple of weeks. I think the RoS binge certainly helped the writing process. :-)
Very nice! (:
Thanks, rebelcolors! I'm glad you liked it! :-D
I hope you had a very happy birthday karen9! Many happy returns!

rusty_armour!!! A new story! Love the opening! Them becoming connoisseurs of caves is too too funny.

Great dialogue! Aren't you tempted sometimes to have Nasir say casually, "That Will, such a bitch." Probably not right dialogue-wise for the time period, but...

I really like that supernatural Hern is taken down by a very human accident. I love the way you mix everyday life with the extraordinary.

Great wee story. Love the way you ended it with the white stag disappearing. Really strong ending.



Yup, nothing like re-watching canon to renew interest in a fandom.

rusty_armour!!! A new story! Love the opening! Them becoming connoisseurs of caves is too too funny.

Thank you so much for reading this, jackycomelately! :-D I'm happy you got a kick out of the opening. I can't even remember where the idea that the outlaws spent their winters in caves came from. Maybe it was in the novelizations or it could have easily been something I picked up from another fanfic writer years ago. In any case, I assumed the outlaws had been forced to spend enough time in caves that they would know what to look for and possibly even have their favourites...not that there is likely to be that many caves in Sherwood. I'm sure that even with the nicest cave, it wouldn't be a great experience. Talk about major cabin fever. *g*

Great dialogue!

Thanks again! I'm glad it sounded okay! :-)

Aren't you tempted sometimes to have Nasir say casually, "That Will, such a bitch." Probably not right dialogue-wise for the time period, but...

LOL! Tempted? Yes. However, this time around, I was actually worried that I'd given Nasir too much to say! He doesn't usually say much, though Mark Ryan was speaking whole sentences by the end of the series. *g* In general, Nasir is the strong, silent type, though the silence probably wasn't entirely by choice. English wasn't his first language and I'm sure getting used to England and its people would have been quite an adjustment. Here's a typical Nasir clip. Well, "typical" isn't doing it justice. I'd say this was one of Nasir's finest moments in the show:



You'll notice the lack of talking and the great amount of silent stalking and killing. *g* Saying (and showing) all that, I wouldn't be surprised if Nasir had moments when he at least thought that Will was a bitch, though the voice in his head would have likely been speaking Arabic. I would think that Saracens in this period would have been far more sophisticated than the English and would have totally known how to trash talk behind their friends' backs, etc.

I really like that supernatural Hern is taken down by a very human accident. I love the way you mix everyday life with the extraordinary.

What a really nice thing to say! :-D I should confess that I'm really just taking a leaf out of the proverbial RoS book. I'd say the show was very much a mix of everday life with the extraordinary. In the case of Herne, he's a man who possesses mystical powers (and is called a forest god), but, when you come right down to it, he is just a man. In fact, one of the first things he says to Robin of Loxley is: "We can all of us be gods. All of us."

Great wee story. Love the way you ended it with the white stag disappearing. Really strong ending.

Oh, thank you! I'm very pleased that you like the ending because I wasn't really sure whether it worked or not. In fact, I have to confess that it wasn't something I came up with until the day before I posted the story. The fic originally ends with that conversation between Robin and Will. However, I realized that the story might work better if it kind of came full circle and ended with the white stag. It, uh, seemed to make sense that it would end on the white stag given the title of this story. ;-)

Yup, nothing like re-watching canon to renew interest in a fandom.

Yikes! Tell me about it! And it's particularly deadly for me when it comes to this particular fandom! *g*

This is such a lovely fic. I really felt transfixed by the vision of the white stag when Robin and Nasir spotted it, I can really imagine that moment taking place on the show. It was so vivid and really felt in keeping with the show. The characters are really nicely drawn as well, the dialogue all felt right. Robin fearing losing Herne, after losing his own father in some way already, is an affecting moment and believable. Thanks for sharing this, it's a lovely read :)
This is such a lovely fic.

That's so kind of you to say! Thank you very much, funkyinfishnet! :-D

I really felt transfixed by the vision of the white stag when Robin and Nasir spotted it, I can really imagine that moment taking place on the show. It was so vivid and really felt in keeping with the show.

I'm really happy to hear that you were able to imagine that moment with the white stag so easily and that it was something you felt was in keeping with the show. That's wonderful to know and a huge compliment. :-D

The characters are really nicely drawn as well, the dialogue all felt right.

Again, I'm very happy to hear that! :-D I really do try to get characters and dialogue right. I'll admit that I've had several years of practice when it's come to RoS, but there's still the fear that I won't do justice to the characters and/or the show.

Robin fearing losing Herne, after losing his own father in some way already, is an affecting moment and believable.

I'm so glad that moment worked for you and the emotion came across okay. I think you've outlined what Robin was experiencing perfectly. :-) I believe there is a very close bond between Robin and Herne. While it's as strong as the one Loxley had, it's different. For one thing, Robin denied his destiny for a year and then, when he did accept it, he was forced to turn his back on his father and deny his title and birthright. He had a bigger sacrifice to make in a way, especially as he wouldn't have grown up hearing the stories about Herne and embracing pagan practices. He also didn't have a rebel for a father, so there isn't that legacy that was passed down.

Thanks for sharing this, it's a lovely read :)

Well, thank you very much for taking the time to read it and leave such generous feedback! It's very much appreciated! :-D
I believe there is a very close bond between Robin and Herne. While it's as strong as the one Loxley had, it's different. For one thing, Robin denied his destiny for a year and then, when he did accept it, he was forced to turn his back on his father and deny his title and birthright. He had a bigger sacrifice to make in a way, especially as he wouldn't have grown up hearing the stories about Herne and embracing pagan practices. He also didn't have a rebel for a father, so there isn't that legacy that was passed down.

Yes, I love the bond between Robin and Herne. It's more of a fond father and son relationship than that between Herne and Loxley. Robin even shows exasperation with Herne's riddles!
Yes, I love the bond between Robin and Herne. It's more of a fond father and son relationship than that between Herne and Loxley. Robin even shows exasperation with Herne's riddles!

I think you're absolutely right. It does seem like more of a fond father and son relationship than the one shared between Herne and Loxley. I wonder if the relationship was different because Loxley's father died when he was so young. Unlike Robert, he doesn't have a father and never had the chance to rebel against Ailric or question his authority, though I shouldn't dismiss the role Matthew would have played. However, I'm wondering how much Loxley saw Matthew as his father, despite the love he must have had for him. I could be reading more into this than I should, but Loxley almost seems to need that father figure more than Robert. I think he does question Herne and his riddles less. You also see this need for a father figure when Loxley meets King Richard. He's very eager to please him and is completely blind to Richard's many faults. And Richard, as King of England, would be the ultimate paternal figure.

Yes the Robert/Herne and Loxley/Herne relationships are very interesting!