The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans: Planning a Trip to Nottingham
June 20, 2013
The others gathered in close as Will knelt beside Robin. "What happened?"
"There were too many of them." Robin’s face was grave. "They surrounded him. I couldn’t…" There was more blood on his tunic and his forearms. He didn’t seem to be wounded, so Rachel surmised it wasn’t his. That was something at least. She didn’t want to be responsible for getting a medieval legend killed.
Alan swore, running his hands through his hair. "The sheriff won’t delay long. He’ll hang John this time for sure."
Robin’s eyes narrowed. "Don’t you think I know that?"
Rachel felt sick. It had all been real before, but it hadn’t felt that dire yet. This was really happening right now. Now though… ‘Now Robin has a reason to go to Nottingham.’ She looked at him and saw Robin gazing back at her. He knew exactly what she was thinking. Did she really have to say it?
"Well, now it looks like a fun trip to Nottingham for all."
Unsurprisingly, Leigh had beaten her to it.
"Fun is not the word I’d use," Robin said flatly. "You must be Rachel’s friend, Leigh, no longer lost at least." He sighed, weariness in his voice as he got to his feet. Alan and Will drew off to one side, conversing quietly.
"No, Robin you’re mistaken." Tuck broke in. "This is the Lady Marian." He beamed at her and Robin. "I know the two of you are already well acquainted."
"Well," thought Rachel, "That’s done it." Was there a penalty for screwing up a historical legend? Would time start unraveling immediately? What if they went home and nobody had ever heard of Robin Hood before? Aubrey would definitely kill her then. Except she wouldn’t remember. Yikes.
"Make sense, Tuck." Robin looked at Leigh, then at the monk with confusion. "I’ve never seen the lady in my life."
The monk leaned in to whisper something, clapping Robin heartily on the shoulder. Of all the times to learn about a surprise romantic interest, probably the best moment wasn’t right after your best friend was taken prisoner.
"So you’re supposed to be my…paramour?" Robin raised an eyebrow.
"Not so much, no." Leigh murmured.
"Yet that’s what you told my good friend, Tuck." Robin nodded at him. "He says you told him of our fond times together, and that you spoke with great warmth of my talent with a bow."
Rachel coughed. "You did what?" She tried hard not to laugh, choked some more. "Nope, just nope."
Leigh just pounded her on the back.
"Well, that was after the ale," Leigh explained. "If he had mentioned children, I would have said they were a splendid invention."
" gather you are not fond of children."
Rachel got the distinct impression that Robin was trying not to smile. He definitely sounded amused. So maybe they hadn’t ruined the story after all. Maybe,this could all be salvaged somehow.
"Not as a whole, no."
At that though Robin frowned. "You prefer them in pieces?"
"God, no. I meant," Leigh shook her head. "Never mind. Let’s just say, I used a false identity because I thought it would be useful. I’m sure an outlaw of all people could appreciate that."
"But of course," Robin’s expression grew warmer. "A timely ruse is most amusing."
"It seemed like the thing to do," Leigh shrugged.
Rachel had a feeling this could go on all day. "Not to break up this charming tete-a-tete, but what about John?"
At that, the worry lines returned to Robin’s brow. "We have to rescue him and soon. There was a time when the sheriff would have dealt more fairly with him, but those days are gone. His mercy has long since run out."
"So what are we going to do?" Rachel asked. She congratulated herself on putting the ‘we’ part in there very subtly.
"We?" Robin eyed her, and then Leigh.
"Well, we already have someone in the dungeon. Now you do too, so it just makes sense to combine forces."
"Dungeon?" Leigh muttered. "Nobody said anything about a dungeon. Dungeons are not our friends."
Frankly, Rachel had expected Robin to say they couldn’t go, and she had her argument all prepared to deal with that. Instead, Robin just sighed and scratched at his stubbled chin. "Very well. I suppose it’s lucky that it happened now."
"What on earth does that mean?"
"Tomorrow’s market day." Will spoke up.
"Which means, what?" Rachel looked at him.
"It means there’s a fair in Nottingham." Robin grinned.
* * *
According to Robin, a fair in Nottingham meant there would be a crowd, and a crowd meant a better chance to sneak into the castle. Alan handed out bread and venison for everyone, while Robin went over the plans with Stutely, who had at last returned with George. Will was busy picking out the disguises.
"Very handy." Rachel muttered behind her bread. "Convenient writing, if ever I heard it." Fairs happened all the time in Robin Hood stories, but still.
"If someone is writing this, they could have at least sent a pot of coffee back with us." Leigh yawned.
"Writers are not there to make your life easier," Rachel pointed out. "They’re there to tell the story." She yawned too. "Seriously though, how are we supposed to stay awake to plot an escape?"
"It’s only early afternoon. Why am I so tired?" Leigh leaned against the tree, clutching her venison.
Leigh closed her eyes. "This is Robin Hood: the Russell Crowe edition, isn’t it? All the realism and attractive beards and whatnot."
"Pretty much. Only we’re finally done with the prequel part and get down to the actual outlawry."
"I can live with that." Leigh took a bite of venison.
Rachel nudged Leigh’s knee. "I think he likes you."
"I think he needs a shower." Leigh chewed on her strip of venison sadly. "Bambi. I’m eating Bambi."
"Not helping, Rachel."
"That’s what I’m here for. The not-helping."
"So Robin’s talent."
"You said it, not me."
Leigh threw a piece of venison at her.
To be continued...