Pandora's Castle
By Virginia Cavazos
Chapter Ten

Slowly opening a door, Tuck peeked his head inside of the room. Little John clearly heard him gulp, and saw him shiver.

"Bad news?" John asked.

"Well, unless you consider an army of skeletons standing, as if they are waiting for a battle good news," Tuck whispered.

Little John dared to look into the room. The place was huge, he saw row upon row of skeleton's. Each one was dressed in battle armor, holding a pike, or sword in their skeletal hands. It was just as Tuck said. They seemed to be waiting for something.

"Wait a minute," Tuck said he entered the room. "Look at that one."

"Tuck!" Little John hissed, as he boldly entered the room. His curiosity overriding his fear, Tuck stepped up to one of the standing, bony warriors.

"This one Little John, is dressed in the same battle gear worn by ancient Romans over two hundred years ago."

Getting excited, he rushed over to another skeleton. "And this one is dressed in the gear of a Hessian soldier, and this is a Gaul."

Once Little John noticed that the skeleton warriors were not moving, he gingerly entered the room. His eyes scanning the line of ex-soldiers, his face suddenly grew pale.

"T…tuck!" his shaking finger pointed at a figure near the end. "That one looks a little fresher, and look at what he's wearing!"

Tuck gazed over to where Little John was pointing. He saw a man, grasping a sword. His face was bloodied, his eyes as white as snow. Clearly this man had died recently. Inspecting the figure closer, Tuck saw colors of Sir Guy were emblazoned on the dead man's bloody vest.

"Good heavens," Tuck whispered. "This castle has been amassing an army of the dead, while it traveled in other lands."

"For what?" Little John asked.

"To finish what Pandora unknowingly started," a deep voice declared from behind. Whirling around, Tuck and Little John were relieved to see Olwyn, Andrew MacGregor, and Tom standing in the doorway. They were not as relieved to see Sir Guy with them.

"This castle imprisons many unspeakable horrors," Olwyn continued. "They were to powerful to be put back in Pandora's box. So they were held within these walls. Throughout the years, as the castle traveled from land to land, it has amassed an army of the dead."

"For what purpose Olwyn?" Tuck asked. "Whatever lives in this castle, is trapped forever."

"Not forever Tuck," Olwyn said. "A curse was placed on this castle. It could only remain on a spot for one day, and one night. The evil here, was not given the chance to take root, and grow. Very few know, that there is a way to break the spell that enchants this castle."

"So that the evil that lives within, gains freedom from its bonds," Tom solemnly said.

"To break the curse, a human of noble blood, must willingly remain in the castle past the dawn." Olwyn continued. "With a virtuous heart, joining the cursed within, the spell will be broken, and the castle will remain here."

"So it needs a pious man, a man willing to sacrifice himself for the safety of others," Tom explained.

Tuck, Little John, and Andrew MacGregor all blurted out at the same time, "ROBIN!"

"Yes my friends, after so many centuries of men entering this dark castle, whose only want was to escape from this prison. The evil that lives within may have finally found what it had been searching for, a man with a pure heart."

"With the good lords help. We must find Robin and get him out of here," Tuck insisted.

"Precisely what we are here for, Friar," Olwyn said. "Now let us hurry, the sun is just setting. We must find Robin and Marion, and safely lead them out of here before the dawning sun touches the castle walls."

"What about me?" Guy roared. "I don't want to save Robin, I just want to get the hell out of here!"

"If you don't help us get Robin out of here alive," MacGregor said in a deadly whisper to Guy. "Then I will personally make sure you will not see the dawning rays from tomorrow's sun!"

Sir Guy actually cringed, from the murderous look on MacGregor's battle hardened face.

"Let's go find him then," Guy squeaked.

Nodding his head in approval, MacGregor led them down the corridors. In the background he could hear Guy calling out.

"Robin has more than the castle to worry about. In case you've forgotten, we have another fish in the pot. Jacobi is searching this castle for Robin Hood as well. His plans are to make sure Robin doesn't see the dawning rays from tomorrow's sun as well."

"It appears," Little John glumly said. "That by tomorrow morning, we will either continue our fight against Prince John, or become unwilling members of this dark army."

*** *** ***

Jacobi quietly crept through the corridors. Coming upon a crossbow window, he peered outside. He could see that the sun had just set.

He nearly jumped out of his skin, as he heard a voice hiss, "Have you made up your mind, pretty, pretty?"

Spinning around, he saw the spider-woman standing before him. She was in her human guise.

"Where is the woman?" she searched down the corridors. "She was with you, when the rats chased you."

"Oh, 'er!" Jacobi let out an uneasy chuckle. "Well you see, we split up, yeah that's it. We though it would be faster fo' us to find our friends."

"I told you, if you agree to remain within the castle after dawn, that your friends would be allowed to leave the castle alive."

"To be 'onest," Jacobi purred, "In your 'uman guise, you are very pleasin' to the eyes. Do you 'ave a name?"

"You may call me Lilith, my pretty," she sighed.

"Very well, Lilith," Jacobi said. "If you will allow me time to find me friends, and give my good byes, I pledge to stay with you, within this castle."

Lilith suddenly grabbed Jacobi's hand, he let out a hiss, as he felt something burning his palm. "The deed is done!" Lilith declared. "The pledge has been made. I will grant you time to find your friends. Tell them that they will be allowed to leave this castle alive."

"Thanks Lilith, I look forward to the next 'undred years with you."

She slowly began to step into the shadows. "You had best warn your friends quickly. I am just one resident of this castle, along with many others. I cannot control them. Hurry, my pretty, pretty. My gift to you, will protect yourself, as well any with you from the wrath of the other inhabitants." With that said, she dissapeared into the darkness.

Jacobi examined his palm. He saw a circular, golden medallion, a spider hung from the circle.
Clutching it he whispered, "Now all I 'ave to do is find you Robbie. Then I'll make sure you'll be the one stayin' be'ind, and Jacobi will be gettin' out of 'ere alive!"

End of Chapter Ten

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