Title: Muninn (1/2)
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Sir Guy of Gisburne, Marion of Leaford
Category: General, drama, post-eppy
Word Count: 907
Summary: Gisburne runs into some interesting obstacles when he tries to arrest Marion at Halstead Priory.
Spoilers: Definite spoilers for “The Time of the Wolf”. More spoilers to come with the concluding installment.
Notes: This story is a birthday present for raven714, which is fitting because I was originally inspired by this piece of fanart that raven714 created:
I’ll freely admit that this fic doesn’t do raven714’s artwork justice, especially as I’m still working on it. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but those thousand words (or, in this case, 907) are not this story! *g* I hope raven714 manages to enjoy it all the same. I’ll try not to keep her waiting too long for the conclusion.
This takes place a couple of weeks 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.
Cover art by raven714
They burned. Each mark was like a trail of fire, as if Gulnar had branded him instead of raking that iron claw across his chest. Although Gulnar’s perverse ritual had been over a fortnight ago, the wound hadn’t shown any signs of healing. The scratches were just as deep, the skin around the torn flesh even redder than before. He suspected that the scratches had become infected, but he hadn’t wished to seek out the physician. He was ashamed enough of his time with Gulnar and the Fenris worshippers without having to reveal physical proof of his brief allegiance.
He lowered his wine cup and met de Rainault’s eyes, hoping this was the first time the Sheriff had addressed him during the meal. “My lord?”
The Sheriff was watching Gisburne expectantly. He didn’t appear angry, though he was wearing his usual sour expression. “I want you to go to Halstead Priory tomorrow and arrest Marion of Leaford.”
Gisburne wasn’t surprised. If the Sheriff hadn’t been distracted by the need to appease the King after the grain shipment debacle, he probably would have given the order sooner. Their spy at Leaford Grange had delivered the news about Marion almost a week ago.
“What if she’s taken her vows?” Gisburne asked.
The Sheriff scowled. “I don’t care if she’s become the prioress. You will arrest her, Gisburne, even if you have to drag her out by force.”
“Yes, my lord.”
The Sheriff had speared some pork on his knife, but he paused before lifting it to his lips. “You look pale. Are you ill?”
Gisburne was so stunned by the remark that it took him a moment to speak. “No, my lord. I’m…I’m well.”
“Hmm,” the Sheriff said, sounding unconvinced. He took a bite of his pork, though he kept his eyes fastened on Gisburne.
It poured for most of the journey, hard, driving rain that stung their cheeks and trickled down their necks in large, icy drops. By the time Gisburne and his men reached the priory, they were soaked to the skin, their cloaks dripping and water sloshing in their boots. Gisburne was sure the three soldiers who had accompanied him would have been much happier if he had accepted the prioress’ offer of some warmed cider and a place by the fire, but they had a job to do. Besides, Gisburne knew a distraction when he saw one. The old woman was trying to divert them, buy Lady Wolfshead time to hide, possibly even escape. When Gisburne ordered his men to search the priory, he expected her to protest, but she only gave a brief nod of assent, her expression seemingly serene and untroubled. Gisburne knew it had to be an act, so he gave further instructions to his men to search every single part of the priory, no matter how insignificant or innocent it might seem.
Gisburne decided to cover the garden and outbuildings. Marion was accustomed to hiding in Sherwood, so she could be crouching in some bushes, lying concealed in the grass, or perched in the branches of a tree. What Gisburne refused to admit, even to himself, was that he was finding the priory unbearably hot and stuffy and that he was sure he could feel the prioress’ eyes boring into him.
Gisburne almost gasped in relief as cool, fresh air greeted his hasty retreat from the cloister. He breathed in deeply, trying to ignore his trembling limbs and the heart that hammered in his chest. It would seem that the Sheriff had been right, and Gisburne was forced to acknowledge that he wasn’t entirely well. However, a visit from the physician would have to wait until after he’d arrested Marion.
As Gisburne walked through the garden, he not only scrutinized the grounds but listened for any tell-tale noises. He could hear leaves rustling in the wind and the chirping of birds – specifically, the cawing of a crow. Or was it a raven? He shook his head, wondering why it mattered. Then he jerked as a tree bough creaked, gazing up at the branches above him in bewilderment before realizing that the sound had been caused by a strong gust of wind. He looked away from the branches and caught sight of a black bird flying towards a shed on the other side of the garden. Gisburne crept towards the shed, his eyes never leaving the bird. He stopped, brow creasing in confusion, when he had nearly reached the shed. The bird – he could now see that it was a raven – had begun pecking at the door as if it were knocking. An instant later, the door opened a crack, and the raven walked into the shed with all the stately grace a lord might exhibit when entering the king’s court. Gisburne broke into a run, determined to see who was in that shed, even if it was just an elderly sister searching for a trowel.
When Gisburne flung open the door, he had the satisfaction of seeing Marion’s eyes widen and the freckles stand out in her pale, startled face, before his entire vision was consumed by blackness. First, it was the raven flying at him with a wingspan that seemed to take up the entire width of the shed. Then it was darkness of a different kind as the spots that had started to dance before his eyes merged into an impenetrable veil and Gisburne felt his legs collapse.