Title: The Griffin (1.5/2)
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Robert of Huntingdon, Will Scarlet, Nasir, Tuck
Category: General, mystical
Word Count: 1,233
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.
It wasn’t Herne who woke Will but Much. Will stared up at him blearily, not even sure who had roused him, before he made out Much’s curly head in the darkness and the young man whispered, “It’s happening again.”
Will sighed, nodded sleepily and stumbled out of his bedding. He had only taken a few steps when he heard the sound of snoring. He looked down and saw a large lump covered in furs by his feet.
“I didn’t want to disturb him,” Much said. “He looks so peaceful.”
“If I ’ave to be awake then so does ’e.” Will nudged the lump with his boot, and Tuck snorted awake.
“’E’s off again.”
Tuck yawned and rubbed his eyes. “Robin?”
Tuck stretched out his arms, and both Will and Much hauled him to his feet. “Do you think this is the night?”
“Who can say? Even ’Erne ’asn’t got a bloody clue what’s going on.”
When Robin had gone to seek advice from Herne, he had received a riddle that was as cryptic as usual:
The griffin seeks the treasure that was lost, the treasure that should have been protected, but was stolen instead.
The thought of treasure had thrilled everyone. Was this lord with the griffin on his coat of arms riding through Sherwood with his ill-gotten riches? Had he hoped to avoid cutthroats by travelling at night, and was that the reason why Robin kept being led to the road in his sleep? Both Robin and Tuck had been quick to point out that Herne’s riddle could mean anything, and that they shouldn’t expect caskets bursting with gold. However, despite their cautious attitude, Robin and Tuck couldn’t hide their enthusiasm. Herne’s riddles might not make sense, but they always led to adventure if nothing else.
As Will headed wearily after Robin, with Much and Tuck in tow, he wondered if any treasure was worth sacrificing more sleep. They had all followed Robin the previous night and had remained with him as he stood on watch, staring sightlessly at the road. Then, when the first rays of sunlight began to filter through the trees, Robin woke, gazed around in confusion for a moment, and walked wordlessly back to the camp. Will wondered if tonight would just be more of the same.
“Wild goose chase,” Will muttered.
“What was that, Will?” Much asked.
When they reached the road, Will was surprised to see an air of excitement in the group when he had assumed everyone would be bored and restless. What was even more startling was when Robin turned at their approach and walked towards them.
“You’re awake,” Tuck said.
Robin smiled, his teeth gleaming in the moonlight. “No one could sleep with all that noise.”
“Noise?” Much asked. He sounded confused, and Will couldn’t blame him.
Robin tugged on Much’s arm, and they all moved nearer to the road. Will concentrated, tilting his head slightly to hear this mysterious sound that had apparently woken Robin. Then, he found it took no effort at all, for it was a sound he knew only too well: the rattle of wheels on the road. However, there was something odd about them. Although the wagon they were attached to was not yet in sight, it sounded much closer.
“That’s the loudest wagon I’ve ever ’eard.”
“I think one of the wheels is loose,” Nasir said.
Will snorted. “Sounds like the whole axle is about to go.” He turned to Robin. “Are these the people from your vision?”
“I don’t know, Will,” Robin said. “All I do know is that this party must be travelling in secret. Why else would they risk Sherwood at night?”
John chuckled. “I’m surprised they haven’t attracted every cutthroat for miles with the noise they’re making.”
“Frightened them more like,” Will grumbled.
“Why are they travelling in secret, Robin?” Much asked. “Are they running away from somewhere?”
“Yes,” Robin said. “I think they must be. Running from somewhere…or someone.”
It wasn’t long before they were able to discern the wagon, though they needed to squint in the darkness to do so. They split up to cover both sides of the road, hiding in the undergrowth. As they wagon came closer, Will was able to hear the sound of one, maybe two, horses over the noise of the wagon, but that was all. A small party, then, with no armed guard or entourage, not that Will had been expecting any. Still, he lay tensely on the road until Robin gave the signal, and they all burst out on to the road.
Will’s first glimpse of the party consisted of the flailing hooves of the horses as they reared up and neighed in fright. Unfortunately, that was enough to send that loose wheel off its axle and cause the wagon to tilt. There was a high-pitched scream, and Will saw a small body slide from the driver’s seat. He felt his breath catch in horror, knowing he was too far to reach the child in time. Then Robin was tossing Albion aside and swooping in to catch the child before it hit the ground. An instant later, to everyone’s surprise, a baby started crying.
“It’s all right,” Robin said to the child in his arms. “I’ve got you and…your sister? Brother?”
The voice that answered Robin was thin, quiet and difficult to hear over the baby. “Brother. His name is Henry.”
“And what’s your name?”
Robin smiled. “Martha, you were a very brave girl to keep hold of your brother. You might have dropped him if you’d grabbed on to the wagon.” He set Martha on the ground and looked up as the driver rushed towards them. Robin held out his empty hands to indicate that he wasn’t a threat, but the man was too busy clutching Martha to notice.
“I don’t know whether to thank you for saving my children or curse you for causing the accident in the first place,” the man said. “I would have grabbed them myself if both hands hadn’t been on the reins. I only had the children with me because Henry wouldn’t settle down in the back.”
Robin lowered his hands sheepishly. “I’m sorry. We only meant to stop the wagon, nothing more.”
“Oh, I think it was a good deal more than that. You mean to rob us, even kill us, maybe.” The man took the wailing baby from his daughter and began rocking him.
“We don’t kill children – or make them fatherless, if we can help it,” Robin said. “Why are you travelling on such a dangerous road at night?”
The man glanced up from the baby in his arms. “It’s not by choice.”
“Because I asked him.” A young woman had stepped out from the back of the wagon. “I came here looking for you, Robert. I need your help.”
Robin was staring at the woman as if she was familiar, but he just couldn’t place her. As the woman drew closer, Will could see, though only just, that she was dressed in fine clothing and had the poise of a noblewoman. Then, when she was standing directly in front of Robin, he gasped. “Constance? My God, is it really you?” He pulled the young woman into his arms and kissed the top of her head. In response, the young woman broke down and wept against Robin’s shoulder.