Title: The Griffin (1/2)
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Robert of Huntingdon, Will Scarlet, Nasir, Tuck
Category: General, mystical
Word Count: 1,534
Summary: Robin has started sleepwalking, but no one knows why. The only clue is the vision of a griffin.
Spoilers: Nothing specific. Mostly general spoilers for the series as a whole.
Notes: This is a present for karen9 to celebrate not only her birthday but her first RoS convention! :-D She’ll be attending The Hooded Man in May. Apologies for not being able to provide the whole story on the big day, karen9. I’ll post the conclusion as soon as I can. In the mean time, I hope you’ll get some enjoyment out of this first installment.
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. Most of the characters are the property of Richard Carpenter, Robin May, Anthony Horowitz and the RoS production team.
Will couldn’t be certain what had roused him from his sleep. After returning from his watch, he had fallen, exhausted, into slumber. In his dream, he’d been drinking in a tavern with all his friends. The women serving them had been comely and generous with both the ale and their favours. A lass with dimples in both cheeks and honey blond hair had been leaning over Will, about to whisper some secret in his ear, when a different voice, a male voice, had said, “Wake up.” Will had obeyed, jerking out of sleep in a panic, casting his eyes around the camp in every direction. It was then that he noticed the pile of blankets where Robin had been.
Robin couldn’t be on watch because he’d already taken his turn. Besides, Much was absent from the camp, so he was still at his post. Will knew that Herne sometimes summoned Robin in the middle of the night, but Will didn’t think that was where Robin had gone. He remembered the voice from his dream, a voice he’d heard before. He had been the one Herne called, not Robin.
A twig snapped. Will shoved off his blankets and stood, moving quickly, but silently, through the camp to pinpoint the source of the sound. If it had been a waxing moon instead of a full one, he might not have caught sight of that flash of pale gold as Robin faded into a clump of trees. Curious, Will crept after him.
It wasn’t long before Will realized that Robin was heading for the road. Had Robin heard something? Was he meeting someone? Will was so distracted by his thoughts that he almost didn’t notice when Robin stopped just short of the road’s edge. Will froze and ducked behind a tree to see what Robin would do next. Robin did nothing, only stood motionless, staring at the road. Losing patience, Will was about to step out from behind the tree and confront Robin, when a hand clamped over his mouth and an arm was wrapped around his chest. He felt a breath against his face and then a voice was whispering in his ear. “Leave him.”
“He walks in his sleep. We should not wake him.” Nasir lowered his hand from Will’s mouth and released him. Will spun around, pinning Nasir against the tree trunk.
“What do you mean?” Will said. “’Ow do you know ’e’s asleep?”
Nasir regarded him calmly. “Look at his face, his eyes. But don’t touch him.”
Will studied Nasir for an instant in suspicion before striding towards Robin. He stood quite close to him, but he didn’t touch him. He took in Robin’s slack face and blank gaze. “Robin? Are you asleep? What are you seeing?”
Robin was silent for so long that Will thought he wouldn’t receive an answer. Then Robin spoke in a quiet murmur, as if he really was asleep. “I see an eagle, an eagle being pursued by a lion. No…not pursued. Consumed. The lion has swallowed the eagle, and both animals have become one: a lion with the head and wings of an eagle.”
Will looked at Nasir, who had stepped out from behind the tree and was standing next to him. “’E’s gone mad.”
“It could be a vision,” Nasir said.
“A vision that ’e’s gone mad, maybe,” Will muttered. He glanced at Robin again and shook his head. “What do we do now? We can’t just leave ’im ’ere.”
“No,” Nasir said. He took Robin by the arm and turned him away from the road. “Come, Robin. We should return to the camp.”
Will watched in amazement as Robin allowed himself to be led away. “’E’s never walked in his sleep before, ’as ’e?”
“No, I don’t think so – not before last night.”
Will stopped walking abruptly. “Last night?” He glanced over his shoulder at the road. “’E did the same thing last night?”
“And ’e walked to the same place?”
“At the same time?”
Will sighed and scrubbed a hand across his face. “What the ’ell does it mean?”
Nasir shook his head. “I don’t know.”
They began walking again, but didn’t make it far before Will stopped a second time.
“I think I ’eard ’Erne’s voice in a dream.”
Nasir cocked his head and stared at Will curiously. “What did he say?”
“’E told me to wake up.”
“And that is when you saw Robin leave the camp?”
Nasir frowned. “It must mean something.”
When they reached the camp, Robin lay back down on the ground, and Will pulled Robin’s blankets up to his shoulders.
“We’re talking to the others about this in the morning,” Will said.
Nasir nodded. “Agreed.”
The next morning, John and Much travelled to Wickham with Robin, so only Tuck was available for counsel. His chin resting on one chubby fist, Tuck listened carefully to what Will and Nasir had to say.
“A beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion?” Tuck said when the tale had concluded. “Sounds like a griffin.”
“What the ’ell’s a griffin?” Will asked.
“It’s a mythical creature thought to be quite powerful.”
“If it’s a mythical creature then ’ow come Robin’s seeing it?”
Tuck shrugged. “Maybe it’s an omen.”
“Or one of ’Erne’s riddles,” Will grumbled.
Tuck sat deep in thought for a moment, his forehead furrowed in concentration. “The griffin appears on some coats of arms. Maybe the griffin represents a man.”
Will grimaced. “You mean a Norman.”
“That could mean trouble,” Nasir said.
Will snorted. “Is there ever a time when a Norman doesn’t mean trouble?”
Tuck sighed. “We need to tell Robin.”
When Robin, John and Much returned to the camp, they were flushed and breathless, but laughing all the same. They had encountered a group of soldiers just after they’d left Wickham and had led them on a merry chase, deep inside the forest.
John flopped down on the ground beside Will and drank deeply from the waterskin. “They’ll be lost for hours.”
“Were they Gisburne’s men?” Will asked.
“No, though I’m certain I’ve seen their colours before – and that red griffin on their shields,” Robin said.
Will’s head swivelled around, while Nasir and Tuck exchanged a quick, but meaningful, glance. Robin missed none of it.
“What is it?” Robin eyed each man in turn. Neither Will nor Nasir was giving anything away, but Tuck squirmed uncomfortably. Robin raised an eyebrow. “Tuck?”
Tuck gazed at Will and Nasir helplessly then said, “Robin, have you ever walked in your sleep before?”
Robin’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. “No, never.”
“Not ever? Not even as a child?”
Robin smiled. “Tuck, I grew up in a castle. If I’d walked in my sleep, someone would have reported it to my father.” His eyes narrowed. “Why are you asking me this? Have I started sleepwalking?”
Tuck hesitated then bit his lip and nodded.
Stunned, Robin stared at Tuck. “For how long?”
“Two nights,” Will said. “Nasir followed you on the first night, and then we both caught you at it last night.”
Robin shot a puzzled look at Nasir. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
Nasir shrugged. “I thought it might happen only once. I did not wish to alarm you if it did not happen again.”
“But it did.” Robin looked at Will. “What did I do?”
“You walked to the road and then just stood there. When I asked you if you could see anything, you spouted all this hogwash about an eagle being eaten by a lion that then turned into that griffin beast you and Tuck were talking about.”
Robin frowned thoughtfully. “It sounds like a vision. Was there anything else?”
Will shifted a bit, looking sheepish. “You didn’t say nothing, but I thought I ’eard ’Erne’s voice in a dream telling me to wake up. When I did, I saw that you’d walked out of the camp.”
Robin crouched down in front of Nasir. “Did I walk to the same place both nights?”
“Yes, and I think it was at the same time,” Nasir said.
“None of this can be a coincidence. It must mean something.”
“But what?” Much asked.
Robin shook his head. “I don’t know but there has to be a reason why I’ve started sleepwalking at a particular time and to a particular place. Then there’s the griffin. It must have some meaning as well.”
“Maybe it was a warning about those soldiers,” John said.
“Perhaps…though it does seem strange that I would start sleepwalking because of it.” Robin rose from his haunches and started walking across the camp. “I’m going to see Herne. Maybe he can provide me with some answers.”
“Not bloody likely,” Will grumbled. “’E’ll probably just wake me again.”
“I hope he does, Will,” Robin said.
Will’s brow creased. “Why? So I can wake you?”
Robin grinned. “Oh, no, I don’t want you to wake me. I want you to follow me again. I want all of you to follow me. There’s a reason why I’m being guided to the same spot night after night. I think something’s going to happen, and we’re meant to be there when it does.”