The Golden Cage

By Shelly Quinn

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Robin paced the length of the sumptuous bedchamber, unable to rid himself of the anxiety that set his pulse to racing. Whatever was about to happen, he knew that it would not be pleasant. Robin didn’t have long to wait.

The Sultan and his Sultana entered the bedchamber with an entourage of the guards, six to be exact. After settling the Sultan on a divan to the right of the huge, circular, bed, the guards lined up against the wall. Robin stared at them until his attention was distracted by a soft touch on his arm. He turned to find the Sultana smiling at him. "Come, Robin," she beseeched, as her fingertips danced over his chest. "Let’s discover each other’s…intimate…secrets."

"Uhhhh…I’m very flattered," Robin replied, grasping her wrist to keep her hands off him. "But…I’m afraid I don’t do well in front of an audience."

"You’ll soon forget that we’re not alone," The Sultana whispered a smile curving her full lips. She didn’t mind that Robin was playing hard to get. In the end, he would be hers; one way of another, so she was willing to play the game. It was rather exciting. When he continued to retreat, Lylah glided forward, stalking him.

Robin soon found his back against a tapestry-covered, wall. He gasped as the Sultana took advantage of his position to press herself against him, he felt uncomfortable, as skin lie against skin. Since her lush globes spilled out over the top of her bodice. Robin swallowed hard, trying to find a place to put his hands to push her away, and steeling on grasping the Sultana’s waist, lifting her from him, then making good his escape.

Lylah laughed as she turned to stalk Robin once more. She skipped forward, backing him up till he hit the bed. "Good boy…" She whispered as he toppled down onto his back. She leaped forward, landing on top of Robin, her fingers gripping his wrists.

"Has anyone ever told you that you’re…pushy?" Robin hissed, as he heaved upward and rolled them both over. Now he was on top and he pushed himself to his knees, then jumped to the floor. Glancing over at the Sultan, Robin saw that the fat man was amused by their bedroom antics. "Great…" Robin muttered beneath his breath. He stepped away from the bed, for the Sultana was rising from it to stalk him again. Another glance about the room and Robin knew that there was no way to escape. There were two exits, but the guards blocked them both.

"Are you afraid of me, Robin Hood?" the Sultana queried, her voice a sensual purr.

Robin grimaced at her. "Let’s just say that I’m …shy, shall we?" As he spoke, Robin stepped behind a marble table, determined to keep it between them.

Lylah was beginning to tire of this game of cat and mouse. She was on fire with wanting Robin, and she would have him. Now. Turning to the guards she ordered, "Bind Robin to the bed."

"Uh…can we discuss this?" Robin countered, feeling his anxiety level rising. Eyes searched the room for anything that could be used as a weapon, even as the guards advanced. In the moment, Robin realized that he was at a tactical disadvantage. Two guards came at him from around the sides of the table, one straight at him despite the marble blocking him. Behind Robin was a wall. "Wonderful.." he sighed, then he made his move. Using his powerful thigh muscles, Robin somersaulted onto the tabletop. He kicked the guard in front of him in the chin, then did another somersault, in mid-air, to land on the other side of the table. To his misfortune Robin landed on a brightly-colored rug, and a fourth guard had the presence of mind to yank it out from under him. With a cry, Robin crashed to the ground. He landed on his back and with the wind knocked out of him so that he couldn’t move. A heartbeat later he felt hands pulling at him, then he was lifted and carried over to the bed.

As he was laid down upon the satin covers Robin began to struggle, but he did so in vain. Vise-like hands gripped his arms and legs, as silk scarves were wrapped around his writs, with the intent of binding each to the headboard of the bed. "No…!" Robin hissed, but he knew that he was helpless. Or so he believed. But in that moment a battle cry rent the air and Fengali charged over to the bed, brandishing his saber.

With deft strokes he made the guards fall back. "Come Robin!" he shouted, gesturing for the young man to rise. "Follow me!" With that, Fengali raced towards the west corner of the bedchamber, into what looked to be a solid wall. But he pulled aside a tapestry and a wooden door was visible.

"Tunnels," Robin whispered to himself, as he followed close on Fengali’s heels. Once he was inside, the door slammed closed behind him.

"Go…and free your friends," Fengali told Robin, as he slid home the lock. "They’re in the slave quarters, the old tower,"

Robin started to move, but turned back. He had to ask, "Why are you doing this?"

Fengali waved his saber at Robin in a shooing motion. "You do not have time to ask questions. Go!" He reached out to shove the young man forward.

"Thank you!" Robin shot back, turning to go. Fengali called his name and he turned back in time to catch a jeweled-handled dagger. Offering a smile, Robin then rushed off to free his friends. Only he hadn’t gone far when his way was blocked by what looked to be dozens of guards. Robin backed up, nearly bumping into Fengali, who now stood at his shoulder. "We’re outnumbered," Robin declared.

"Yes," Fengali conceded. "But I love a challenge." With that he released a battle cry and attacked.

Robin did the same, but it was soon apparent that they would be defeated. The last action Robin took before being disarmed was to save Fengali’s life by deflecting the knife blade that was arching toward the Arabs back with his forearm. Robin hissed in pain as blood welled up, staining his skin. But defiance gleamed in his eyes as he was hauled back into the bedchamber to face the Sultan and his wife. He was pushed to his knees before them, Fengali by his side.

Sultan Yazid glared at them from his divan. He looked over at Lylah, who was perched beside him, then pointed to the captives. "What do you deem their punishment to be, my dear?" He asked, for it was her honor that had been sullied.

"Send Fengali to the dungeon," The Sultana declared, her eyes cold and impassive. "He has betrayed us my lord, and must die to restore our honor."

"So be it," Yazid declared, motioning to the guards to take Fengali away.

Robin was furious and struggled against the hands that held him. "He tried to help me!" Robin protested. "If anyone should be put to death, it should be me!"

Lylah smiled, rising to her feet to confront him. "Oh now, Robin Hood," She whispered. "You are to beautiful to die. I have plans for you…my pet." As she spoke, the Sultana traced the outline of Robin’s sensual mouth with a scarlet tipped fingernail. When Robin jerked his head back, she curled her fingers in his hair then ravished his mouth in a passionate kiss. That the passion was one-sided did not concern her. The Sultana knew she had the luxury of time on her side. She would break Robin Hood and make him her dutiful slave. Right now, however, he was bleeding and needed attention. "Bring me water and bandages," Lylah ordered, then she looked at the guards holding Robin and said. "Bind his wrists, then leave us."

The guards obeyed, as did her husband. The Sultan was hungry so he wandered off to the dining chamber, leaving Lylah to her fun. Robin watched the bedchamber empty, from his makeshift prison. He had been placed in a heavy chair, his wrists bound to the thick arms with silk cords. He said nothing as a serving girl appeared with a basin of water and bandages, then bowed to her mistress and went off.

Alone with Robin now, the Sultana smiled. She used a soft cloth, dipped in the cool water, to clean the wound on his arm. She felt his dark eyes watching her, and wished that they would darken with passion. But she remained silent as well as she bound his arm with white bandages. Once finished, the Sultana sat down on Robin’s lap. Her fingers threaded through his thick hair, then she kissed him. To her surprise, Robin kissed her back. Even went so far as to deepen the kiss. "What’s this?" Lylah questioned, as she came up for air.

"Do I not please you?" Robin countered, a sensual smile curling his lips.

"Indeed," The Sultana whispered. "You please me greatly, Robin Hood. But surprise me as well. Why so…eager…all of a sudden?"

Robin shrugged. "I’m not a fool, Sultana," he drawled. "You’ve won. I’m your slave now, so I figure I might as well accept it."

Lylah was pleased to hear that, especially since she saw passion, and sincerity, shimmering in Robin’s dark gaze. "You will have a good life here," she promised, her fingertips now gliding over his muscled chest.

"I know," Robin allowed, letting a soft moan escape, as the Sultana caressed him. "I want to touch you," he whispered, pressing his lips to the tops of her breasts. He felt her quiver then pressed advantage. "You have such beautiful skin…" Robin breathed.

"Yes…" Lylah moaned. She slid off his lap and knelt beside the chair, her fingers fumbling with the knots in the scarves till one wrist was free. She was working on the other hand when stars exploded in her head and Lylah crumpled to the floor.

Robin winced in sympathy, shaking his hand. She had a hard chin. "Sorry about that," he whispered, even as he finished freeing his other hand. That accomplished, Robin jumped to his feet and headed for the tunnels.

On his way to the tower, Robin collected two swords and a set of keys, the latter of which he hoped would prove useful in freeing his friends. Two guards stood at the entrance of the tower and Robin dispatched of them swiftly. He was trying keys in the lock, and absorbed in his task, so that he didn’t hear the other guards approaching. But he whirled around when he heard a cry, just in time to see a man fall. Looking past the guard, he saw Marion and Kemal smiling at him. "You found me!" Robin declared, stating the obvious.

"You okay?" Kemal asked, clasping Robin’s outstretched hand in his own.

"Fine," Robin replied, then he turned to Marion. He felt her gaze slide over him and bit his lip. Waiting for the inevitable comment on his attire.

Marion giggled, then cleared her throat. "Nice look," She drawled, biting her lip to keep from saying more. In truth, Marion thought that Robin was beautiful, and the clingy pants and revealing vest simply offered her a visual feast of his abundant assets.

Robin grimaced at her, then pointed to the door behind him. "Tuck and Little John are locked up inside," he said, tossing the keys to Kemal. "Free them then meet me at the gate."

"Will do, Robin," Kemal replied as he juggled the keys and went to work on the lock.

"Where are you going?" Marion asked, grabbing Robin’s arm when he would have run past her.

Robin locked eyes with her and replied, "To help a friend." He saw confusion shimmer in Marion’s eyes, but it soon turned to understanding.

Marion knew Robin well. "Be careful," she called after him, then she turned to help Kemal.

The dungeon wasn’t hard to find. It was on the bottom level, per usual, and Robin ran lightly down the stairs, sword in hand. The other saber he had buried in the chest of a guard. The dungeons were silent and filled with dancing shadows, thanks to the flickering torchlight. Robin passed by several cells, all empty, until he reached the end of the corridor. It was there, in the last cell, that he found Fengali. The Arab sat in the corner, on a heap of straw. He leaped to his feet when he saw Robin.

What are you doing here?" he demanded, as the young outlaw used a stiletto blade to pick open the lock on the door.

"I’ve come to rescue you," Robin replied, a cocky grin on his face. "What does it look like I’m doing?" He popped open the lock then swung open the door. "Hurry," Robin beseeched, gesturing for Fengali to follow him. No more guards had appeared, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t drop in unannounced.

Fengali shook his head. "I cannot" he replied. Then he rose to his feet, revealing the fact that he was shackled to the wall by one ankle.

Robin cursed softly, then entered the cell. He tested the blade of the sword in his hand, then gestured for Fengali to step back. Raising the sword overhead. Robin brought it down on the chain. He repeated the blow, several times, and was certain that he saw a heavy link bend.

"Robin!" Fengali suddenly shouted, for he had detected a sound, then movement. In that moment three guards swarmed into the cell

"Be right back!" Robin shouted, as he turned to defend himself. He never saw the guard that made to plunge a dagger in his back. He only heard a cry, then a snap. Driving his sword blade into the belly of one guard, then kicking the other unconscious, Robin whirled around to see Fengali crumple to the ground, beside the guard who’s neck he had broken. Protruding from the Arab’s stomach was the dagger intended for Robin. "Fengali!" Robin shouted, dropping to his knees to cradle the other man’s head in his lap. "Hang on," he beseeched.

"Too late…for that…" Fengali whispered. He could feel his life-force ebb out of him even as his blood stained the dungeon floor. "Go…Robin," Fengali ordered. "Be free…with your friends."

Robin shook his head, blinking back sudden tears. "Why?" he asked, needing to understand. "Why would you die for me?"

Fengali sighed and a smile curved his lips. He lifted one hand, stained in blood, and touched Robin’s face. "Look into my eyes," he beseeched. "See your true self, Robin. Then you will know the answer that you seek."

"Fengali…" Robin breathed the name, his eyes locked on the Arab’s but he saw the glimmer fading. A moment later the bloodstained hand dropped from Robin’s face, and he whispered a prayer as he brushed a hand over unseeing eyes. "Go with your god, my friend." Shifting Fengali off his lap and gently lying him down on the straw. Robin then rose to his feet. But he removed the dagger from the Arab’s stomach and shoved it into his sash. Before turning and walking out of the cell to meet his friends.

It was a solemn journey back to Sherwood. Robin was lost in thoughts of Fengali and his time as a slave. He told his story to his friends, then listened to the tale that Tuck and Little John had to tell. Robin was pleased to learn that his friends had freed all the slaves before heading for the gate to meet with him. But the shadow of Fengali’s death still clung to him.

Marion rode beside Robin. She and Kemal had borrowed three horses from the Palace stable so that they would all be able to ride out of there. Now they traveled at a steady walk, and Marion felt Robin’s sorrow as if it were her own. Part of what she loved about him was his deep-seated integrity, and his sense of fairness. He didn’t say much about Fengali, most Marion learned from Tuck and Little John. But she sensed that Robin’ felt loyalty to the man who had made him a slave, and she would respect his feelings. Yet, she wanted to understand them better. "Want to talk about it?" she inquired, offering a smile of encouragement.

"No…thank you," Robin replied. He appreciated what Marion was trying to do, but he wasn’t ready to share his thoughts with her. Or anyone, for that matter. He did, however, have a question.

"Marion…when you look at me, what do you see?"

"What do I see?" She repeated, a frown marring her brow. Marion hadn’t expected such a question from Robin, but when he nodded, she attempted to answer him. "I see a brave and noble man, willing to die for what he believes in. And fight for the innocent people who cannot defend themselves."

Robin considered her words then prompted, "Is that all?" When Marion gave him a strange look Robin tried to explain. "I have a reason for asking," he assured her. "I just want the truth."

Marion nodded, then gave it too him, believing that she finally understood what he was asking, only not understanding why he needed to know. But if it was important to Robin, then it was important to her. "I see a man whose physical beauty is a reflection of his soul," Marion said softly.

"Thank you, Marion." Robin replied, a smile curving his lips. And his heart felt suddenly lighter as he recognized the gift that Fengali had given him. Using his heels to spur his mount into a canter, Robin rode a circle around his friends, then challenged, "Race you home!" Turning his stallion and taking off at a full gallop

The others watched him go, in no hurry to catch up. They were simply content to listen to the echo of Robin’s laughter in the wind.

The End

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

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