The FiresWithin
By Virginia Cavazos
Chapter 6

Robin rode silently alongside Will. Searching ahead, Robin could just make out the fires that all were afraid of. The horizon seemed to glow an unhealthy orange. Marion and the others were not around. Robin glanced over his shoulder at the somber Will, shaking his head he made a tsking sound. Halting his steed near a small brook, Robin dismounted. He led his horse to the
water’s edge. Robin remained silent as his mount drank. Will wondered about the look Robin gave him. He pulled his horse close to the brook’s edge, staying on his mount as it drank from the waters.

“What’s wrong Robin?” Will quietly asked.

Robin was feeding his horse some leaves from a nearby bush. He looked up at Will, one eye squinting from the sun shinning in his face.  “Well, Will,” he started, “It seems I’m having a problem with your reaction to what was seen in your father’s castle. You see I’m afraid that you’re not going to make a very good outlaw because of it.”  Turning his head away from Will’s ashen face he added, “At least not in my camp.” Robin resumed feeding his horse.

Will was stunned. “What do you mean I’m not going to make a good outlaw?” he sputtered out.

Robin was now fussing with his saddle, pulling on the straps.  As he adjusted it he tried to explain to Will of his mistrust. “Will, in Sherwood, we are all equal. No man is thought of being above another.”

Will vigorously nodded his head.  “Yes Robin, I agree with you, no man should think they are better than another. I gave up my title for this, Robin.” Will searched into Robin’s face, trying to read what the problem was.

Robin continued to fuss with his saddle. Taking in a deep breath, he slowly turned his head. Looking straight into Will’s eyes he said, “That also  includes women.”  Will still didn’t understand what Robin was trying to say.  As he tried to tell Robin this, he was hushed with a wave of his hand.  “I want to believe that the problem you have with Agatha is because of your mother, and not because you think of her as not being good enough for your father. The words you used to describe her are pretty strong, Will.”

Robin tried to explain to Will what he meant.  “Will, when I was a young man, my father was killed before my eyes. In my heart, all I wanted to do was take revenge upon the man that took my father’s life, and get back the title that was taken from me. But a good friend showed me that there were others out there in more need of help than I.  He was able to show that angry young man that all of England’s people should be treated fairly.  No man should think they are above another. I took up that fight. To protect the poor and needy.”  Giving Will a cold look he said, “If you want to help me in my cause, then you must resolve that fire that you feel inside for your father and Agatha, for if you cannot, Will Scarlet, then I’m afraid there is not a place for you in my camp.”  Robin grabbed the pommel of his saddle. Pulling himself up, he settled down on the saddle.

Will was silent; he really didn’t know what to tell Robin.  A small smile creased Robin’s face. He needed to shock Will - wake him up to his true feelings. Pulling on the reins of his horse, Robin rode on ahead, leaving Will to digest what he had just said.  Will was confused.  He had given up everything to help Robin in his cause. Now he was telling him he was going to
banish him from his camp. Suddenly Will Scarlet began to feel very lonely, and very frightened. Gazing down the road Robin had just ridden down, he was startled as Robin was quickly riding back towards himl. Glancing behind Robin, he quickly found out why.  Beauforte was chasing him, with his personal guard close  behind.
Will pulled his horse around, heading away from Beauforte. Robin followed after Will. This was his land. He would know where to ride.  Will led Robin down into a small gully. He knew of a short cut into the deepest part of the forest.  Once there, they would easily be able to rid themselves of their pursuers. It would have been a perfect plan, except for the fires. Coming to the end of the gully, Will found it to be blocked by a raging fire. Robin pulled his horse to a stop, its hooves digging into the dirt.  Turning the steeds around they tried to make their way back. Too late!  Beauforte was blocking their avenue of escape.

Robin jumped down from his horse.  Will followed.  Swatting their horses’ rear ends, they watched as their mounts skirted past Beauforte. The large man chuckled, stopping his horse far enough away to avoid the long sword Robin had pulled out to defend himself. Will, also pulled out his sword.  Both men were standing side by side.

“Now I know that you are Robin Hood.” Beauforte chuckled. “I have seen your face on many a tree on my estate. But who might the man clad in red be?” Beauforte knitted his eyebrows in deep thought. His eyes then lit up in mock surprise. “Now don’t tell me that’s Geoffrey Scatlocke’s little boy Will?”

“The name is Will Scarlet!” Will growled to Beauforte.

“Oh, Will Scarlet. Hmm it seems that there might be a reward posted on a man going by that name. Also a very large one for Robin of the Hood.”  Beauforte gave out a jolly laugh. “And it seems that I now have both of them in my grasp.”  A plan suddenly blossomed in Beauforte’s mind.  He had always coveted Geoffrey’s estate. The fires became a means of obtaining Scatlocke’s land.  Perhaps he would be able to make a deal with daddy, now that he had his remaining son in hand. And  the Prince would be paying him a large reward for the capture of Robin Hood.  Hugh Beauforte grinned contentedly at the two outlaws.

Robin returned the grin with a nod of his head. “Well, well, Will, you haven’t introduced me to your rotund friend here,” Robin scolded Will.

“Robin Hood, let me introduce you to Hugh Beauforte.”

“Lord!” Beauforte hissed to Will.

“Oh are you praying for help?” Robin asked. “Please, I know my reputation precedes me, but I  will try to be lenient with you.” Sir Hugh’s face began to turn a beet red. Robin gave a warm laugh.  “My, my, that is a nice shade of red you turn to. Almost as colorful as Will’s cape.”

“I’ll be the one laughing when I see your neck stretched on the Prince’s gallows.”

Robin stifled a yawn. “I have heard that before, and my neck is still the same size.”

Robin’s flippant attitude changed as the wind suddenly shifted. He had lived in the forest long enough to know what the shift meant. The fires would be moving with the wind. And it seemed to be blowing towards the village, directly in back of them.  Even though Beauforte had threatened Robin, he would still try to save his men’s lives. “That wind shift means that your avenue of escape has been blocked Sir Hugh.” Robin pointed behind Beauforte with his sword.

Twisting around in the saddle, Sir Hugh gasped out as he could see that Robin was right. The fires had caught up with them. The wind whipped at the flames, fueling them as they spread along the under brush. Sir Hugh’s face was ashen as he turned to face Robin.

“You’re going to ask me what are we going to do, right?”  Robin told the Lord as he sheathed his sword.

Beauforte’s guards were becoming nervous. The flames were slowly making there way closer to where they stood. They were told that they would not have to worry about the fires.

Robin turned to Will again for assistance.  “Will, is there another way out of this gully?”

Will searched around the area. He had not been here since he was a lad.  The gully was bordered at both sides by thick woods. They were already being consumed in flames. At the end of the gully, lay a small ravine. The guards were having a hard time holding there mounts still. As the smoke from the fires slowly drifted towards the trapped men, the horses became uncontrollable, bucking their mounts off.  The horses fled down the ravine, maddened by the flames.  Their escape was not a long one. At the end of the gully was a small ravine.  Crazed by the fear of the flames, they each tried to jump to the other side. Only two were able to make it.

Sir Hugh was  screaming out at Will, “If it were not for you I would not be caught in these blasted flames!”

Robin ran between Will and Sir Hugh. “We can fight about this later, gentlemen. For now I think we should be going.”  Robin jerked his head to the advancing flames. The men did not need any convincing.  They ran to the gully’s edge. The ravine was too steep to climb down. Hearing a call, they looked across the ravine.  Little John and Kemal stood on the other side. They waved to Robin, calling to him.  “There’s a fire behind you!” Little John called out.

“It was getting a little warm here,” Robin answered back.

“How can we help?” Kamel screamed out. The flames were edging nearer. The guards were pushing Robin closer to the ravine’s edge. Robin had to think or something quickly.  There wasn’t much time. The ravine was too wide for a man to jump . It was at least four men wide. FOUR MEN! Robin thought.  “Little John, we need to form a human bridge. You and Kemal know what to do.”

Little John smiled at Robin. He and Kemal prepared themselves. Robin explained what he had planned, to the men that was with him. It was a risky thing, but it was their only hope.  Will stood near the ravine’s edge.  A guard climbed to stand on his shoulders. Will held tightly onto his ankles. Little John and Kemal stood on the other side. Kemal had tied a rope to a tree, anchoring Little John. He then climbed onto Little John’s shoulders. Robin banged a sword into the ground, using this to brace himself as he clutched Wills ankles. With a signal, both sides fell forward. Kemal reached out as he fell, latching onto the guard as they passed each other. Both men gripped each other’s arms. When they were sure of the grip, Little John called out., “Quickly, start crossing!”

Robin held on tightly to Will’s legs. Beauforte was the first to cross. He laid on top of Will, inching himself across the ravine. Using the men’s bodies to cross over, the others quickly followed. The flames were coming closer. Robin could feel the heat at his back. When the last man was across, Sir Hugh’s men grabbed Little John’s ankles. This was going to be the tricky part. When Robin let go they would have to hold on tight, for they would swing to the other side of the ravine.   Sir Hugh’s men would then pull them up.

Robin edged himself closer, closer to the ravine’s edge. He strained as he didn’t want to let go to early. As his feet were near the edge, Robin pushed off with his legs.  The five men swung down, hitting the side of the ravine. Robin was stunned by the force of the swing; as he was on the end of the chain, he hit the wall the hardest. Will felt Robin’s grip on his leg loosen. He reached down with one hand, holding onto Robin. Beauforte’s men strained as they began to pull the men up: First Little John, then Kemal.  Little John reached down dragging the guard, Will, and Robin up with one quick pull.

Robin lay on the ground panting.  Laughing at Will, he said. “Well my day is now complete. I always seem to find a way of risking my life one way or another!”

Beauforte stood with his men, staring at the Outlaw leader and his men.

Robin however wasted no time. “We have to go now Sir Hugh. It seems there’s a village in danger.” Robin ran to Little John’s horse. He would ride with Little John. Will would be riding with Kemal.

“We will meet again Robin Hood.” Sir Hugh roared out as he shook his fist in the air.

As Robin mounted Little John’s horse, he gave him a slight bow of his head.  “You’re welcome for saving your life Sir Hugh.” A smile creased Robin’s face.

Sir Hugh blasted Robin again, but Robin was unable to hear it.   He and Little John were riding down the road, with Kemal and Will close behind.  They had to warn the villagers of the impending danger. Robin only hoped that they would be in Time.

End of Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

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