kegel84: (Robin - Marian wood)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Vaysey, Robin
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: The sheriff learns a few things about Guy, and that Robin has been taken captive.
Warnings: Torture

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


Chapter 12: Loss

The sheriff knew that it would be an interesting day. He was somewhat tired as he had waited up till the early morning hours for Gisborne to return from Locksley and had only gone to bed after the man had declared that he would bring the leper to Nottingham. Naturally, Vaysey had also sent a man after the Master-At-Arms to make sure he knew about every step Gisborne took, before he had gone to sleep.

Now he was breaking his fast, comfortably lolling in his chair, only a stray thought as to how long he would still be able to enjoy the comfort of his position disturbing the peace. He wondered what he would do today. He certainly felt in the mood for a hanging and if everything went according to his estimation of Gisborne, they could see the leper swing later in the day. An evening entertainment, so to say.

Vaysey smiled, before he yawned, at the same time waving to a guard to let in the man he knew had been waiting outside the chamber for a while now, the sheriff not having cared about being interrupted too early in the morning.

The man walked in and bowed, the sheriff looking at him lazily. If it had been one of Prince John's messenger, his manner might have been different, but he knew this man was from elsewhere.

“What is it?” he asked.

“My Lord, I bring you a message from the Sheriff of York,” the man replied with another short nod to Vaysey.

“What does the old fool want now?” Vaysey questioned tiredly.

“Sir, I am to inform you that the outlaw known as Robin Hood has been caught.”

The sheriff was suddenly so much more awake. “Caught? Yes?” He rose from his seat eagerly.

“Yes, my Lord,” the other man nodded. “The Sheriff of York offers you to bring him to Nottingham for the sum you have offered for doing so.”

“Yes, yes,” Vaysey agreed. Nottingham wasn't exactly having a very well filled treasury at the moment, but Hood's capture would amount to be a good investment, the sheriff was sure of that. “When can he be brought here? And is he still alive?”

A dead outlaw would be a good thing, too, and although he knew in the back of his mind that there always seemed to be a risk connected with having the man alive, he couldn't bring himself to go without the revenge that needed to be done. He couldn't allow it that Hood had an easy way out of this life...

“He can be brought as soon as you are ready to receive him, as he is already on the way here,” the other man explained. “He is alive, yes, and the Sheriff of York appreciates that the risk connected with this is reflected in the sum you are willing to pay.”

Vaysey clenched his fists happily. “Bring him here as soon as you can.” This could still become a great week... maybe an event with the leper tonight, a few days of fun with Hood then... If only the taxes would go as well as this.

The messenger from York departed then, and the sheriff was left in a much better mood than before. Vaysey had briefly wondered as to Hood’s disappearance before, having placed blame mostly on the weather, yet instead it seemed that he had been on the move. He wondered for a bit as to what Hood had done in York, but possibly it had just been to create annoyance in a different place for once. The sheriff did not know how York had managed to apprehend the man, but it was done and that was what counted, no matter that it would cost him.

He started wondering about Gisborne then, trying to estimate how long the man would need to bring Marian here. The man had done so before, back when he had gone to arrest dear old Edward and his obstinate daughter, burning down Knighton on the way, which hadn't caused a long delay. Now the man seemed to take his time.

Vaysey got dressed, all the while trying to come up with ways for entertainment with Hood. Marian was of less importance now. He would be glad when she would be gone for good, but a simple hanging was good enough for her, also once and for all freeing Gisborne from her vice. While it would be fun to extend her entertainment, he couldn’t stand the thought of his Master-at-Arms moping around once again. Maybe he should really replace the man, but what would all the work he had put into the man over the years have been worth then?

The sheriff grimaced, trying to return to more pleasant thoughts.

As the day went on, the question as to where Gisborne was became greater. Vaysey had busied himself, but he started to get concerned about the matter.

It was well into the afternoon, when the man he had sent after his Master-At-Arms returned. The fact that he had turned up, but Gisborne had not, did not promise well in the sheriff's mind.

“My Lord Sheriff,” the man started with an emotionless expression.

Vaysey sighed, wondering with how many of those imbeciles he would have to deal this day.

“Yes? Where is Gisborne?”

“Sir Guy sends a message,” the man replied, handing a paper to Vaysey who took it irritatedly, grimacing as he knew this could not mean anything good. He had demanded the leper, not a love-letter from Gisborne...

There were only apologetic words in it, the man claiming that Marian had already been gone when he arrived at Locksley, and that in view of this, he had decided to give his position a rest for now, until he believed he could be of better use to the sheriff.

Vaysey groaned. Gisborne was a fool.

The sheriff wasn't quite sure if he even wanted to believe the man. Either the man was a liar and a traitor, or his incompetence had no limits. The question as to if he should replace Gisborne once again entered his mind. If Gisborne was betraying him, then he had to know.

“You,” he pointed at the man who had carried the message. “You take a guard and search Gisborne's chamber. I want to know where he has gone. And anything else he's been hiding from me.” Who knew how many lepers and bastards would still turn up, if one looked closely enough.

Vaysey followed the man out of the chamber, making his way downstairs to where Gisborne had housed. The door was easily forced open, the sparse interior not inviting one to come in, as the sheriff walked into the room. The man who had been ordered to the task was looking around the room now, opening the heavy wooden chest at one side of the room. After a few moments, he returned with a paper in his hand.

“I found this, my Lord.”

Vaysey took it with only mild interest, but grew more agitated when he saw the seal of the unopened letter. It couldn't be...

He walked out of then chamber, leaving the man standing there. He had his eyes fixed on the letter and opened it, when he was sure that no one else was nearby. His worst fears were confirmed when he read the content. Gisborne was a traitor, and he, the sheriff was in grave danger. How else could he explain the offer he read there?

There was a lament, written in eloquent words as to the failure that he, Vaysey, the present sheriff of Nottingham was, the man who failed to pay the taxes that were due to the kingdom, the man who failed to apprehend outlaws, the same who caused him to fall further and further back in his obligations to the king, or as one should rather say, the prince.

And then there was Gisborne. The prince offered him his position, the one of the sheriff, if he was to rid the world of Vaysey, and would also manage to get the outlaws problem under control, enabling him to have the taxes flow as they should.

There was another point mentioned, one that caught Vaysey's attention only now. A delivery of valuables was to come to Nottingham, being sent by the prince as he intended to make Nottingham one of his strongholds, taking care to hide part of his treasure there, for times of need. The man wrote that Gisborne was to make sure it arrived; if Vaysey was still alive and in power at this point, the man was to take it as a sign – if Vaysey was to fail once again and the treasure to fall into outlaws' hands, the Master-At-Arms was to act immediately, removing Vaysey from his position.

The date mentioned for the delivery was the day that followed, as the sheriff realised as he stared down at the writing. The letter ended with a few false well wishes for the king who was captive in a foreign land.

Vaysey was shaking with rage.

A man came walking up to him then, as he was just marching down the hallway. “My lord, the prisoner has arrived.”

“The prisoner?” The sheriff looked at him, willing to hurt the man just to let out the anger that was filling him.

“Robin Hood, my Lord.”

“Hood?” Vaysey yelled incredulously. “Who cares about Hood when people are out to kill me?” His volume made the other shake only so slightly, and the sheriff helped the matter by grabbing the man's collar and shoving him against the next wall.

The man scrambled to his feet then, eyeing the sheriff. “What are we to do with him, my Lord?”

“Just put him somewhere,” the sheriff retorted, marching off in the other direction, the letter still clutched in his hands. He had received plenty of communication from the prince himself and he had known that his position was shaky. But never before had he seen it this clear.

He had to contact the Black Knights. This could not go on like this. A solution had to be found, the world rid of Gisborne, the position with the prince re-established.

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

The journey to Nottingham hadn't been pleasant, but then the guards that had come with him had at least made sure that he stayed alive. He had at first feared, or maybe hoped, seeing that it would have improved his chance of escape, that they would make him walk the whole way. But they hadn't done so, had gone for the faster and at the same time more secure way and had simply thrown him into a closed-off cart, making sure to bind him to the vehicle, too, ending any thoughts of flight.

Now that he knew that they had arrived at the gates of Nottingham, no matter that he could not actually see anything from inside the cart, the journey was coming to an end. Robin wondered where the gang was, if they knew what had happened, if they were well, if they had managed to bring the food to the people in the shire.

He himself had only seen scraps in the days it had taken them to get to Nottingham. He felt weakened now, exhausted both by the lack of food and fresh air, as well as by the lack of movement. He feared that he wouldn't be on his best in fighting back at the moment, but then he had seen worse, too. Losing hope had never gotten him anywhere.

The cart moved again then and from the sounds of it Robin believed to be able to discern that they were making their way to the castle now. A few minutes later the cart stopped, and the door of it was thrown open, light streaming inside, blinding Robin effectively.

“Uh, smelly,” someone said, and Robin was almost surprised not to hear the voice of the sheriff. He would have expected the man to greet him personally.

He was pulled out of the wagon then and soon found himself in the familiar surroundings of the dungeons of Nottingham castle. As opposed to the one in York, he was alone there.

It didn't stay like this for many hours. Robin had tried to nap a bit, aware that he could never be sure when he next got the chance, when he was pulled out of his slumber as the door to the cell was thrown open, the iron creaking loudly. Guards moved in quickly.

Robin sat up, smirking at them. “Sheriff eager to see me, huh?” He wondered what the man was up to now, and his stomach tightened slightly at the memory of the last time he had been in the man's hand. He had been hoping this would never happen again.

He saw then that a man had arrived as well, one who clearly wasn't a guard. Robin figured it was the jailer, though it wasn't the same one he remembered.

“Just take him over there,” the man ordered, and Robin raised his eyebrows, as the guards dragged him outside and then into another room.

“The sheriff is busy, so I thought we could get to know each other, as you will stay here for a while, I suppose,” the man informed him, as he followed after the guards. The men pushed Robin against a wall, forcing his arms to the side, so they could be fixed to the wall, then binding his legs as well, before they left, leaving only the jailer behind.

“We're going to have a nice time together,” the man smiled. “I can tell you a story, all the while we can also take care of you.”

Robin didn't bother to reply, not able to do anything either.

“I can tell you about the jailer who worked here before me,” the man continued then. “His name was Fred, but you don't care about that, do you?” The man showed a knife that he had taken from his belt. Looking at the blade, he went on, “Fred died a while ago. He was killed. Had his throat slit.”

Robin frowned only slightly, having no idea why the man was even telling him this. The only worry could be that the other planned to do the same to Robin what had been done to the jailer, but he guessed that it would go against Vaysey's orders, as he still assumed that the man wanted to leave him alive for now, before he could personally take care of him.

“And shall I tell you who it was who did this?” the jailer asked then. “A woman.” The man shook his head. “I can understand that the sheriff does not like them, lepers.” He moved the knife around in front of Robin's eyes. “A noblewoman even more so.”

Robin swallowed at this, only one person coming to his mind who the jailer might be speaking of.

“She lived up in the castle for a while, they say. The daughter of the former sheriff even, can you imagine that?” The man smiled, bringing his knife close to Robin's left hand, the archer clenching his fingers to a fist reflexively.

“What happened to her?” Robin forced himself to ask. Marian surely had gotten away, she certainly had had a plan, a reason even why she had killed the jailer... but then, he could not even imagine that she would have killed him in this brutal way. If she was forced to defend herself, she still would not have murdered him in this way... something must have gone wrong, or maybe the story was all wrong all the way...

“The sheriff sentenced her to hang,” the jailer told him cheerily.

Robin gasped, an eerie numbness already having come over him. “And... and, has she been hanged already?” he breathed, this time clenching the other hand to a fist as the jailer was approaching it with the knife.

“Not yet,” the other man replied. “On the run, she is, but I'm sure she will be caught. Just as you were, my dear boy.”

Robin swallowed down the lump that had been in his throat. She was alive... she was free... he could only hope she would find safety somewhere...

“Let us come back to you now,” the jailer spoke up. “I hear you are a fine archer, the best there is, they say.” The man once again brandished the knife. “And a thief, that you are as well.”

Robin smiled at this, knowing it was the truth. “We usually don't call it like that.”

“So what is the penalty for thievery?” the jailer asked him.

“Hanging,” Robin shrugged, communicating no news in his mind. That was what the sheriff tended to do, at the least.

The other man nodded. “Yes, yes, but I thought of something else. Seeing what a fine archer you are, and a fine thief as well, I figured we could end both of these careers here.” He smiled again. “Taking a few of these fingers off isn't going to make it easier drawing a bow, now is it?” He motioned with the knife to Robin's right hand.

He clenched his fingers into a fist again, his heart beating more hurriedly now, as fear was coming over him. Not only fear of pain, he had experienced that before, but of things that were permanent, injuries that could never heal.

The jailer reached out with his hand, touching Robin's. “Now, how many of those does an archer need? Can you tell me?”

“I sure need only one hand to take you out, don't worry about that,” Robin returned, though his mouth was dry. The other man then tried to force his hand open, but Robin kept his fist closed with all of his might. He couldn't win in the end, he knew, but he could not just give up either.

The jailer sighed. He stepped away from Robin, and the archer breathed a small sign of relief, as the man turned away from him. Maybe he had given up. The other walked out of the room, only to return a few moments later, this time with several of the guards on his heels.

“Get him to open his hand,” the man ordered.

“I'm not sure the sheriff will be so happy if I die so early,” Robin tried his luck again.

“Don't worry; I'll make sure you will stay alive, so you can meet the sheriff later. In fact, he’ll probably reward me for taking the initiative.”

Two of the guards took hold of Robin's arm, trying to force his hand open, as Robin was still clenching his fist. Finally they succeeded and pressed the back of his hand against the cold wall behind him. Robin kept struggling against it, hating the fright that was running through him.

“So you will be a nice boy and let me see the fingers now?” the jailer clarified.

Robin stared back at him. “And you wonder why the previous jailer was killed.”

He was reminded of the day he had first met Allan, then when the man had nearly suffered a similar fate; he also thought of Dan, who had been maimed as he took the punishment that would have come to his sons.

He tried to fight, trying to free his arm, but the guards held it down, as the jailer approached.

“I'm waiting,” the man said.

“Go to hell,” Robin muttered, looking away from his hand, as he struggled still, closing his eyes then, trying to brace himself for the pain that was to come.

He could feel a sharp sting as the blade touched the skin of his index finger, cutting into it ever so slightly. The pain caused in him another rush to stop this from happening. Shaking now, he tried again to move his hand away, causing the guards to hold him yet tighter as the jailer set on again. Failing to move any further, Robin tried to remember that if he was going to die, it did not matter anyway. And if he was to live, maybe then he could learn to draw the bow with his left hand...

Chapter 13
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March 2011

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