kegel84: (Marian - always watching)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Robin, Much, Allan, Guy, Vaysey
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Anything that you recognize I do not own.
Summary: A twist of history and an unexpected offer give Robin new opportunities in his fight for both his people and country. It also brings new dilemmas, as he and the gang have to make hard choices to find their way when conflicts come to a head.
Spoilers: Till mid-season 2.

Chapter Summary: Robin meets the Sheriff of York, Allan tells Much some things, and Vaysey puts Guy in a dire situation.

Notes: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] emmithar for the beta!

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9


Chapter 10: Plight

The day had already gone by, and none of them expected anything to happen anymore at this late hour. Of course, the only way they even knew that the day was over and the night had come was by the lack of light streaming through the cracks in the walls that surrounded them all.

But then, when some of the prisoners of the York dungeons had already made themselves as comfortable as could be expected in a place like they were captivated in, settling down for sleep, there was a sudden squeaking noise from outside and everyone knew what it meant.

The outer dungeons door had been opened. This was soon followed by the steps of guards, as unmistakable as the sounds of the door. Some of the men who were sitting in the dark were looking up now, waiting for the approaching light coming from a torch, apparently curious as to what was going on, while others still tried to nap.

Then the inner dungeons door was opened as well and the shine of the torch, blinding them all with its glare compared to the previous darkness, travelled over the faces inside. It took only a few moments before it came to a stop, and as Robin had expected, they were coming for him. He wasn't quite sure why he had figured that this was the case, as it could have been anyone else, too, but the fact that they came at night had probably told him.

The guards moved quickly and the prisoners moved to the side to let them to Robin, careful to not be in the way of the sheriff's men. They pulled Robin to his feet and out of the cell and he knew that he was not keen on a fight inside of there, not that he would have stood any chance as it was.

Then the door was thrown shut again and locked, and Robin could hear a few farewell calls from inside the cell, calls that probably followed every prisoner that was taken away.

They took the same way they had come down the other day, as far as Robin could tell. The way upwards went by faster, as he could properly walk this time, only his hands having been bound, keeping him from hitting any of the guards in a potential attempt for escape.

At some point the route seemed to differ, as they came through hallways he did not recognize. They travelled further upwards and finally arrived in areas that were laid out with carpet, and Robin knew where he was being taken. Finally they stopped in front of finely decorated doors, two guards standing outside.

"You're going to behave in here, you understand?" one of the men who had brought him grunted and Robin didn't even bother to reply, waiting only to be let in to the Sheriff of York, and learn of whatever the man desired of him.

"You have to wait," one of the guards who had been standing near the door nodded towards the other man. "Sheriff's busy."

Robin's guard grimaced. "What are they going on about today?"

"Taxes," the other replied. "The king. Taxes. It's always the same."

The guard at the other side laughed. "The king can sit in his hole for as long as he wants. Nobles won't be able to come up with enough. Taxes have dried up."

There was more laughter. "Not like anyone here really wants him to come back. Sheriff not for sure."

Robin frowned at this conversation, but didn't show that he cared in any way about what was said, hoping he would be able to hear more, learn more...

The door to the chamber was opened though and he was pushed forward.

"So tell me about that game you played at the tavern-," he could hear one of the guards outside asking, just before the chamber doors were closed.

Robin came to a stop then and was at first confused as to what was going on, for he was not able to see anyone who seemed to be the sheriff. Then a small man turned around and lifted his eyebrows.

"Robin of Locksley," he said, taking a few steps to seat himself on a wide wooden chair. "Or Robin Hood, if we can believe the tales."

"You're the Sheriff of York?" Robin clarified, not bothering to show any special respect to a man who was not even loyal to his king, the very man who most likely had brought him into his position. At least according to the words of the guards outside. Robin smiled at the thought, figuring that these were probably just as reliable as the rumours that might have been heard about him, but still, everything told him that the man in front of him was not loyal to King Richard, was instead hand in hand with Vaysey. It would fit the picture.

The sheriff smiled in return. "You seem just as impudent as they tell. I thought you to be taller though, but then you're not the big fellow they tell you're in league with." The man turned to a guard that was at his other side. "Have you apprehended any of the others he's been travelling with?"

Robin felt a sting at hearing the words, thinking of Allan and Much, wondering what had happened to them. He feared they would not be as lucky as he was, to be left mostly unharmed, for he was not sure that there was a prize set on their heads as large as on his that made the comparatively benign treatment worth the hassle.

The guard shook his head, and the sheriff turned back to Robin with a frown.

"So where are your fellows?"

Robin shrugged. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"You know that the Sheriff of Nottingham has set an extraordinary prize on your head."

Robin gave no reply, knowing this had been true for a long time. He was not certain in how much the prize might have grown in recent times, though he doubted that the sheriff had had much mind for him and the other outlaws. Ever since the fall, they had not confronted Vaysey openly.

"If the Sheriff of Nottingham will actually pay remains to be seen," he said finally, as the other man continued to watch him.

The sheriff grinned. "Oh, he will pay. The wonder I have is only if I will deliver him the whole man, or only your head." He inclined his head slightly, as if to study Robin closer. "Is it worth the risk, if proof of your death will be enough for the sheriff?"

"Vaysey is like a cat who plays with its prey," Robin shrugged, careful not to show any fear as to what had been said, "So he surely has set a higher prize to have me alive."

The other man nodded. "For now, yes."

Robin remembered the talk he had overheard the other day, the questions that had been raised as to whether it was worth to risk to deliver him alive, chancing his escape on the way. He knew he had to make sure the sheriff was convinced it was a better deal to deliver him whole. With no idea where Much and Allan were, no weapon at his side, and surrounded by guards, he had no other way out.

The Sheriff of York rose from his seat. "Get him ready for the travel to Nottingham," he nodded to one of the guards. "And make sure he makes it there alive."

>--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >-------->

Much kicked the empty cup away from his foot, dropping down on the ground in frustration, leaning against the wooden door that led into the back area of the tavern they had spent another night in, playing Allan's game, drinking and doing a few other things he did not care thinking of. Things Allan was currently busy with as well and that had, according to him, assured them constant access to the place, including an unceasing supply of ale and meat.

Allan had also claimed that this was the only way to get close to the guards of York, those that guarded the dungeons of the town, as well as the castle in general.

So far it had gotten them nowhere, and Much grew more and more restless. He hated this place, knowing that in Nottingham things would be easier. Robin had often managed to get himself arrested there; it would be easy for them to find out where he was if he were there, they'd surely find a way to get him out then, too.

Allan was no proper help in this at all, no matter what the man had said, the way he had tried to convince him of his stupid plan. The only value of it was that they would surely be arrested at some point, at some point when they'd manage to cheat a guard of his money and he'd call more guards... Much was sure this would happen soon, and the only positive in this was that they would finally be able to find out if Robin was in the dungeons of York. Then they would only need to find a way out again.

Much didn't like to remember the situation of the past autumn when they all been sitting in the dungeons of Nottingham, waiting to be hanged, and Robin had been taken away. Still, those desperate hours came back to his mind now. Back then he had calmed after a while, certain that Robin would always find a way out os situations like those. Maybe he should have the same confidence now. The lack of knowledge was making him more anxious rather than less now though.

Much moved to his feet to pick up the cup he had kicked away earlier, figuring he could get himself some water, when he heard giggling behind him. A girl stumbled out of the door of the inn then, shortly followed by Allan.

Much frowned at the man, who seemed to be in high spirits.

"Much."

"Yes?" he asked testily, clutching the cup tighter in his hand.

"I know where he is, Robin, I mean," Allan grinned.

"Where?"

"Well, not sure where exactly at the moment," Allan shrugged and Much was shortly away from throwing the cup at him, when the man continued, "but I heard that they're taking him to Nottingham. Guard told me. Told you it would work." He still grinned at Much, before turning briefly to the girl that was watching them curiously.

"Nottingham? Then we have to go there, too!" Much decided.

Allan shrugged again. "Of course."

"Or we can rescue him on the way!" Much suggested, an image on his mind of him and Allan in the forest, waiting for any of the Sheriff of York's men, ambushing them on their way...

"We can try. Not sure we can find them though, just saying." Allan smiled at the female. "Can you get us some more ale, and some pork, too?"

"Sure, my love," the girl said, skipping away.

"You spent all of our money on this?" Much shook his head.

"It's my money," Allan clarified. "I earned it fair and square."

Much wasn't quite sure about the fairness of the way it had been done, but then their usual way of acquiring treasure was not exactly lawful either, he figured, so he could hardly argue with Allan about it now.

"So we go back to that merchant and get the rest of the food Robin wanted to take?" the other man suggested then, all to Much's surprise who had completely forgotten about it in his worry about Robin.

"I suppose so," he nodded, his thoughts still on their leader. "But we have to save Robin, too."

Allan was still smiling. "Don't worry about it, my friend. Between the two of us, we can do it." He then turned, walking back into the tavern and Much wondered how many more beers it would take before they were finally off, back to Nottingham. Robin needed them, he knew it.

Still, it was already several hours later when they finally directed a cart with supplies for the villages back home out of York. Much had briefly feared that they would be held up. As far as Allan had been able to tell him, Robin had actually been arrested, so it was only logical that people would be on the lookout for other outlaws as well. But no one had bothered him or Allan.

Of course, little could bother Allan at this moment. Much had ventured alone to retrieve the second load of supplies, unwilling to even have Allan participate in it in his state. He wondered when the man had taken in so much; he had thought he had been observing the other well enough. Not that he really would have been able to do anything about it. Now Allan was snoring on the sacks of supply that were loaded on the cart, while Much was busy directing their horses.

It was a good while later that the other man woke and looked at Much bleary-eyed.

"Where are we?"

"On the way to Nottingham," Much replied.

"Oh."

The man was silent then, and Much enjoyed the silence for now, having no further inclination to talk to the other. His mind was on Nottingham. He would have much preferred to race back to the town, using the speed their horses offered. But then he neither knew how long it would take till Robin would even be there, nor did he want to disappoint the man by leaving the food behind that they had bought with their hard-robbed money.

"I'm sorry, you know," Allan said suddenly, looking slightly sick. Much hoped he would have the sense to not puke over all of the food they had just taken.

"About what?" Much thought that Allan definitely had reason to apologize for his behaviour, in view of the danger their leader was in at the same time, but then the man had also gotten them the information they needed.

"I didn't want to do it," the other man said. "Well, I did. In a way. Not at first, but then, yes."

Much turned away from the man, figuring Allan still had too much of the liquid inside of him.

"But I'm helping you now, aren't I?" Allan went on. "That makes us square, doesn't it?"

As the horses trotted on, Much focused on the way, wondering why Allan was this way with him. The man was often irritating, but then there seemed to be situations when he talked nothing but nonsense. When he turned around again to see what the other way up to now, he saw that the outlaw had fallen asleep again. This was certainly a good thing, though he could already imagine that the travel to Nottingham would indeed be a long one. How they were to save Robin on the way in this manner, he did not know.

>--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >--------> >-------->

With all that had been going on, and the problems they were facing, it had irritated him that Gisborne seemed to have his mind on other matters.

Of course, even in the past he had known that the man often had his mind on the leper, but then he had wrongly dared to believe that the woman's escape, together with her doddery father, would have ended that matter once and for all. Well, save for the occasion of her hanging, that was.

Still, he had thought he had Gisborne's full attention now. Instead it had been the complete opposite. The man had ridden off to Locksley soon after the leper's flight and had not shown his face in Nottingham for days. So Vaysey had gone through the trouble and had sent a man after his disloyal Master-At-Arms.

The messenger had returned with two pieces of information. The first had been that he had delivered the sheriff's demand that Gisborne was to return to Nottingham, and then he had told Vaysey of a curious observation indeed. At the house there had apparently been preparations made for a funeral, just at the same time the messenger had arrived there.

The man had reported this to Vaysey in a matter-of-fact, had certainly not realised the implication of the observation he had made. But the sheriff had started to ponder at this odd occurrence. Surely, these kind of things were certainly not rare in Locksley, as in any of the other villages, but Vaysey could not think what reason could be there for it at the manor. As far as his man had told him, Gisborne's housekeeper was well, as was the Master-at-Arms himself. And Vaysey doubted that it was any of the servants... At least he himself, if he were the lord of the manor, would make sure they returned to their miserable cottages before they breathed their last, or would at least be brought there if they died an unfortunate, sudden death.

So therefore, he concluded, Gisborne seemed to have a guest who had died all of a sudden, without Vaysey having any chance to learn of it before... The idea became only more clear in his mind, as the sheriff reconsidered the happenings of the past days.

There was disappointment, for sure. He had erred in his estimation of the man. Of course, he had long known that Gisborne had his foolish sides, clearly showing in his fancy of Marian. But he had not thought it would go so far to betray the man that had brought him into the position he was in now.

Vaysey did not like it, knowing he could have needed a loyal right hand man even more so now, when times were so straining. What he did not need was a man like Gisborne who had proven himself to be otherwise. There was no way the man would be allowed to survive this betrayal. Well, maybe one way, but in bitter disappointment Vaysey figured that he would not see this happen. He could offer Gisborne that his life would be spared, if he rid himself and the world of the leper.

What he himself would do then, was another question. The prince still demanded the sum that could hardly be paid, and there still was the threat of outlaws destroying it all. Another matter he would have to find a solution for, once he had dealt with Gisborne.

For now he was wondering if the man would actually follow the order to return to Nottingham. The messenger had reported a reply that indicated it to be so, but then the sheriff could not be sure of it. If the man had any sense, he should realise that the sheriff might have seen through the charade he had been playing. But then, it was very well possibly that Gisborne possessed no sense anymore at all. Who knew what was going on with him and the leper at this moment, the man forgetting even the simplest duty of answering the call of his superior?

Vaysey leaned back in his chair, trying to enjoy the goblet of wine in his hand, despite all these troubles on his mind. It was in the hours of the early morning, as he had decided to stay up and wait for the return of his Master-At-Arms. This was a matter that had to be dealt with... not because of the woman, but because he needed to either affirm himself of the man, or dispose of him.

Pondering, he closed his eyes for a moment, but almost spit out the wine when there was a sudden sound in front of him. His eyes shot open to see Gisborne busying himself to appear to his full advantage, apparently having entered the room quietly. Vaysey grimaced.

"My Lord," the man gave a nod.

"Finally found your way back here, did you, Gisborne?"

"My Lord," the man nodded again, causing only slight wonderment in Vaysey as to how much the man's mind was still somewhere else.

"Have you amused yourself sufficiently at Locksley?" he went on.

There was slightly alarm in the other's face. "I took some days to rest, my Lord, and to care for the business of the manor."

"Yes, yes, Gisborne." Vaysey played with the cup in his hand, watching the other out of the corner of his eyes. "Now tell me, who died?"

The sheriff would have been greatly amused by the expression in Gisborne's face, had it not been for the disappointment that he himself felt. It was almost like a father who had to look at his fallen son as he was trying to excuse himself. Not that he considered himself sentimental, but still...

"My Lord, why do you ask this?" Gisborne tried to regain his countenance.

"I was just worried for your welfare, Gisborne, nothing else," the sheriff feigned ignorance, although his Master-at-Arms had to know that he had been found out. "I may also ask how the leper is doing. You surely can tell me?"

Gisborne's expression was now fully frozen, and Vaysey sighed at the sight, knowing with satisfaction of the guards he had ordered to remain on alert outside. It might prove to be an interesting morning.

"I do not understand your meaning, Sir," Gisborne replied, but Vaysey noticed that his hand had moved to the hilt of his sword, as if reassuring himself.

He grimaced, impatience with the other man boiling inside of him. Vaysey figured that at least he could use this opportunity to determine if there was any sense left in the other man. The next answer would show if Gisborne still considered his advancement and power important, important enough to be useful to the sheriff.

"I know you're hiding her, Gisborne," Vaysey replied, looking interestedly at the fine carvings on the goblet in his hand.

Gisborne was quiet, had only opened his mouth, but had apparently failed to come up with an answer.

"I beg your pardon, my Lord, I felt that-"

"I do not care what you felt, Gisborne," the sheriff sneered. "But I'll be generous today, and offer you this: either you bring her here, or I'll send my guards to get her, and they'll be none too gentle, I may tell you."

"My Lord-"

"My generosity is not unlimited," Vaysey stressed.

"What are you going to do?" the other asked.

Vaysey smiled. "She'll hang, of course," he said after a few moments in that had had enjoyed Gisborne's strained face. The man had to have known the consequences. "Now be a good boy and get her here, or my generosity may not extend to you and your current position. Do I make myself clear?"

The wine now completely forgotten as the dilemma of the other man was much sweeter to enjoy, despite the disappointment he could still feel due to the betrayal that had been done, Vaysey observed his Master-At-Arms, a position the man would likely not fill very much longer, no matter the decision he would make now. It was only a question whether he would need to call his guards now, or later.

"Let me assure you that she will hang whether or not you fetch her. The question is, will you hang alongside her? Prove to me that it is unnecessary. At least you'll have the decency to treat her well on her way here. My guards, on the other hand, will not extend the same courtesy. So what it is to be?"

Finally Gisborne nodded. "I will get her, my Lord."

Chapter 11

Date: 2010-05-09 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jagnikjen.livejournal.com
Oh, dear...what's Gisborne going to do???

I hope he plans to whisk Marian and himself away to some other shire. But that's probably too much to ask...

Date: 2010-05-09 01:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kegel84.livejournal.com
lol well, you saw what he did. Not quite what you suggested, but what use would it have to have them both gone away? ;-)

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