Robin Hood Tries To Control the Crusaders And Pisses All Of Them Off
(A bonus story for The Rob Saga.)
Rob, along with Francis, approached the Great Hall where they had been summoned by Robin Hood. Rob hadn’t intended on coming. He felt being summoned was demeaning and a load of shit but his curiosity got to him. That and the fact, pointed out by Francis, he was working for Robin Hood. When he got there he saw Will Scarlet, Gilbert Whitehand, Friar Tuck and Abu Abu standing around talking.
“Uh, what’s all this about? Ye were summoned?”, Rob asked no one in particular.
“No one summons Will Scarlet.”
“Yet, ‘ere ye be”, Friar Tuck said.
“We were summoned ‘ere like lackeys. We can’t decide who is going to go in first. We can’t decide whether or not to even go in at all. Maybe ye could do that”, Gilbert Whitehand told him.
Rob knew if they thought he should go first it was the wrong thing to do. “No, I rather think not. I’m no bloody fool, Gilbert Whitehand.”
“Oh, come now, Rob, be a sport. Ye know I ‘ave no quarrel with ye”, Gilbert Whitehand said.
That was true. Gilbert had never fooled with him much, truth be told. Still, Rob thought, this was a bad idea. “Perhaps Tuck should go first. ‘e’s such a fraud ‘e can’t be embarrassed by whatever this is.”
Tuck felt offended by the remark though it was true enough. Still, he also didn’t want to give Robin Hood the satisfaction of arriving first. It would be like these other to leave when he went in and make him look the fool.
“By God, I’ll not do it! Ye are trying to make me look the fool!”
They all turned to Abu Abu. He was Robin’s true friend . So they believed since he was with Robin when they all came here. He had never said a bad word about him.. He shouldn’t be offended by being summoned. He might not feel he had been summoned. Abu Abu looked back at them and drew his curved sword out. Francis saw what was about to happen and spoke up. “Oh, for God’s sake, I’ll go in first. I don’t ‘ave anything in this shit anyway. What a bunch of bloody cowards ye are.”
“Big talk for an elf, I say”, Will said.
After Francis knocked on the door it was opened by Chadwick, Robin Hood’s butler. The whole crowd of men burst in, knocking Chadwick off balance. He didn’t quite fall. He recovered as they went over to Robin. “Lord, the men ye summoned are ‘ere.”
“Yes, well, I can damn well see that. Good, Thank ye, gentlemen.”
Chadwick gave the men a haughty look. Gentlemen indeed. Then went over to the door and stood there. Ruffians, all of them. That included Lord Robin. What is royalty coming to? In the old days these men would be hanging from the gibbet for people to throw rocks at. The lower class might throw something else.
They looked at Robin sitting in a high-backed chair on a raised dais. There were no other chairs there. They looked at Robin and then around the room. They weren’t surprised at this. Will Scarlet walked across the room to a chair and sat down picking his nose as he did. He wiped it under the seat. Gilbert Whitehand followed as did Rob, Francis and Tuck. Robin saw Abu Abu standing alone in front of him. That pleased him momentarily. Abu Abu then said to him, “If Abu Abu wanted to sit he would take your chair, Robin Hood.”
Robin ignored that. It seemed the sensible thing to do with Abu Abu. Robin Hood never felt too comfortable with Abu Abu.. He walked over to where the men were sitting. There was no chair there for him and no one offered to get him one. He thought to tell them to get him one but he knew they wouldn't. Robin started thinking it might be best if these men did go away for a while. He could probably get the rest of the former Merrymen to speak to him with respect due him as a Baron. Then, when these men returned, if they returned, they might feel compelled to go along with the royalty state of affairs. He thought that possible but wouldn’t bet good money on it.
He went and brought a chair over. He looked the men over closely. They looked bored. He would surprise them.
“Men, I ‘ave decided to finance ye on ye Crusade. Ye will ‘ave ye expenses paid and ‘ave a bit for yeselves. What say ye to that?”
“Id say ye should increase ye vocabulary. That’s what I say”, Will Scarlet said.
ThenRobin Hood made his offer in detail. No one spoke at first. It wasn’t from the shock of his offer or loss of words at his generosity. It was more like wondering what he was up to. There was a certain element of distrust toward Robin Hood.
“Why? What’s in it for ye?”, Will Scarlet asked.
Will Scarlet was the son of Samuel Scarlet, a Master-Swordsmen for the Duke of Earl. Will learned swords the way other children learned games except the other children wouldn’t play with him. Their parents didn’t allow it. By the time he became a 12-year old he could hold his own in skills; by age 16 he could defeat most men except his father. That was when his father apprenticed him to the Duke of Gable-on-Avonshire. His father would receive his pay and the Duke would receive a Master-Swordsman for a low price until Will reached twenty-five. Will would be able to fight against the best swordsmen in tournaments and be able to command a good fee from anyone needing a Master-Swordsman. That, at least, was the plan.
By age 21 Will was as good as good as any man with a sword. He didn’t always win but he usually did. He had a few scars from nicks and cuts despite the dull edges and the covered point. This pleased the Duke, who placed bets on Will. It pleased his father because it pleased the Duke. The Duke kept sending Will’s father money which pleased him. The only one not pleased was Will Scarlet. He was well-fed and well-kept but had no money. He was displeased by that.
He asked the Duke for money but the Duke just laughed and said, “Don’t be silly buggers. If ye want money ask ye father for it Now, off with ye.”
Will decided there was only one thing for that. He began to lose. He started losing a fight here and there he could have won. His skills seemed to diminish. The Duke was angry; his father was angry. Thy both knew it was about the money but they couldn’t bring themselves to change tradition. Will started losing all the fights. One night, the Duke gave him his release and then had his guards throw Will out the front gate.
Will began entering tournaments with a false name. He was soon earning pretty fair money. He could pay his way and have money for other things as well. The other things being whores, mead and wine. The Duke figured out that if he looked like Will Scarlet and fought like the Will Scarlet of old he was Will Scarlet. The Duke complained loudly to the Sheriff of Nottingham. He claimed Will owed his winning to him for all the losses he had taken. The Sheriff agreed and ordered Will arrested.
Will laughed when the two guards came for him. One lost a hand and the other was stabbed in the ass. It was the only part Will could reach when the man turned to run away Will scampered out the gate and went into hiding in Sherwood Forest. Little John came upon him and took him to Robin Hood’s camp.
“Ye may join us”, Robin told him.
“I am no thief.”
“Ye are on the run either way.”
Will saw the point and joined.
Gilbert Whitehand could split an arrow with one of his own. He couldn’t do it often but once was enough to make his reputation. He was an outstanding archer. He won many tournaments while avoiding an apprenticeship. His father had talked of it but Gilbert ruined that thought by running off and changing his name to Gilbert Whitehand from Herbert Blackman.
He was soon famous and noticeable. The king was always looking for good archers for his army. He was told this time and time again. One day, at a tournament in Nottingham, the Sheriff arrested him and was sending him to London to be shipped to King Richard the Lionheart. The King would reward him handsomely and, perhaps, forgive his working for Prince John. As the guard detail left and went up the Nottingham Road a band of outlaws attacked them. The Sheriff’s men ran away leaving Gilbert tied to a horse. The outlaws cut him loose and took him to Robin Hood.
“Gilbert Whitehand, ye say? I ‘ave ‘eard of ye. Ye are supposed to be a great archer. I am the best but we could use ye ‘ere. Of course, ye might want to serve Richard and England though the bindings suggest otherwise.”
“Well, ye are the clever one, ye are. Ye might be able to use me since I am the best archer. Shall we ‘ave a contest to see?”
“Ye are a saucy one, I see. No, we shan’t ‘ave a contest. I need prove nothing to the likes of ye. Ye can stay as long as ye know ye place.”
Robin Hood didn’t give any explanation as to what Gilbert’s place was so Gilbert decided to stay. He could leave later if Robin Hood got on his nerves too much. He might have to shoot him full of arrows first.
Later, Little John told Gilbert he should respect Robin Hood’s position.
“Why? “e’s no one special, easy to tell.. I respect ye but not ‘im.”
“I do not care if ye respect me. Ye fear me and that is enough for me. Ye should respect Robin Hood a little bit because I say ye should. Need I say more?”
“No. I think I get the picture.”
“Ye need to get yeself respectful of Robin Hood. At least to ‘is face. That’s what ye need to get.”
“Ye men are too suspicious. I want to do right by ye and Richard the Lionheart and Merry Old England. I intend to be very generous with ye and expect nothing in return other than ye fight for Christ and England. Well, not ye, Abu Abu. Ye shouldn’t fight at all. Ye shouldn’t go comes right down to it. Ye will be in danger from the Crusaders and from the Moslems.”
“Abu Abu is going.”
“Ah, well, then suit yeself.”
“I shall, Robin, I shall.”
“How about ye, Tuck.? Are ye ‘aving a problem with my offer?”
“No, not at all. I would like to know what all ye are gaining by this offer but no, no real problem.”
“Alright, let’s talk-”
“Wait a damn minute ‘ere. Ye didn’t ask me if I ‘ad a problem and this was my idea”, Rob said.
“Oh, are ye ‘aving a problem with my offer?”
“No, but ye-”
“Then why are ye speaking? Ye are making no sense.”
Rob glared at Robin but said nothing. He couldn’t think of an answer that didn’t make him sound senseless. He did that enough as is.
“I will pay all ye expenses to the Holy Land. Ye need not try to do it on the cheap but I’m not paying for luxurious living. I shall set money aside for ye return, if ye return. I will not pay for ye to die. Of course, I will take credit for all this. That is my due for doing this. Also, Will shall be my Captain.” Due for doing? Mayhaps I do need a teacher.
Everyone yelled at that, except Will Scarlet. He assumed he’d be in command.
“I’ll not take orders from some sword-banger I ‘ave ye know”, Gilbert said.
“I take orders only from a bishop... or God”, Friar Tuck said.
“Abu Abu needs no commands. I will not obey this man.” He then gave Will a look. Will decided to look away.
“Well, just who the ‘ell do ye think ye are? Ye cannot tell us to take orders from ‘im. I was going to the Crusade anyway. Why should I take orders from Will Scarlet. No, ‘ell no!”, Rob yelled.
“Yes, well, I suppose ye shall work it out in some fashion. Now, when do ye leave?”
Abu Abu was from Ethiopia. The original Christians had flocked there and soon rid the place of old religions. The monks set up a monastery in the mountains. The Christians were driven out by the Moslems from every place but the mountains. Soon enough the fighting started between Christian and Moslem warlords. The slaughter was a terrible thing.
It soon became obvious to the various warlords that something needed to be done. They were running out of Ethiopians to kill and to be killed. They had a meeting and divided the country into two parts. The plains would be Moslem and the mountains would be Christian.
Once a year, each side would select one warrior to fight it out to the death. Abu Abu was selected for the Moslems and won. Someone booed him and then threw a rock at him. He got angry and went into the crowd swinging his sword. He was banished by both sides. He ended up in the army of Saladin. He had no real choice. His opportunities were limited. It was Saladin or starve.
Meeting Robin Hood was a blessing. His guards were so enthralled at having a Christian dog to kill or maim they forgot about Abu Abu. He and Robin managed to escape. Now, Abu Abu wanted to go home in the hope he had been forgiven or not recognized.
The next dawn was spent loading the pack-horse and preparing to leave. Robin had given them good horses. They were going to take good ones either way so he gave them his best. He wanted them gone. All the Merrymen, except for Little John, came over to say farewell. Little John was sticking to his vow to never again enter Nottingham. Robin handed each of them a bag of gold coins. It was quite a sum but worth it to be rid of them for a while. By the time they returned he should have everything under control and then he’d get the esteem that came with the title. That was his hope.
Suddenly Will Scarlet took off for the gate at a gallop followed quickly by Gilbert Whitehand. They were both yelling as they raced off. Rob was slow to catch on but he also took off at a gallop. If Robin had moved a foot either way he would have been trampled. He was sighing in relief when Rob knocked him down as he took off.
“Bloody lot of fools!”, Robin called out.
Abu Abu, Friar Tuck and Francis watched them with amusement.
“I guess they are going to decide the leadership by racing”, Francis said.
“Oh, I think they’ll still be fussing over that when we get to the ‘oly Land”, Tuck added.
“I don’t care as long as we get there. Come, let us catch up to them. They’ll wear those horses out not too far away”, Abu Abu said.
“Yea, at least this is the easy part of the journey” Tuck said.
He wasn’t right about that.