Prologue: The End.
I could hear the screams, the plea for life... my life? They begged for me? Mercy, I could tell them, was something these men would never understand. Me and my men... This was the end for us. And that end would be ugly. Because we would be made examples off. to make sure none would dare to stand against the regime again.
We played with fire, and now we would fall prey to the flames that we lit. All I could do was pray, that it my life. This work would not be in vain. I lived by my own morals, I was a thief, an outlaw. Still I believed that I walked with righteousness on my side too the scaffold. I shall die today, but they would not break me! What an ignorant fool I had been.
A last embrace through the bonds of friendship that would live on even if we were claimed by death. The cheers of the privileged filled my ears. But they did not smother the outcry of the people, my people... Justice! Freedom, Hope!
"You may light my pyre today Sheriff, you may think that when I am upon that pyke you'll win... but what will they say about you after I am gone? You have no idea what it takes to be a leader of men. We, me and my men, left behind a message that won't be claimed by death. You may kill me today, but my spirit lives on!" My lungs protested from the force that I used as if those sentences were my last breaths. My last battle cry.
It was rewarded with a bone shattering hit on my jaw. I landed on the floor, my ears ringing and looked up to leather boots. I spitted out blood and maybe some teeth. One boot landed upon my spine holding me there... "that's your place my Lord. Your nothing but a dog who bit his master." The pitch black eyes of Guy of Gisborne bore into mine. There was only hate and contempt in that gaze. To them I was but an animal. That's how they saw the poor, like something to exploit. How could people be so blind and uncaring for suffering and still be capable of loving someone! Because when Guy looked at the red haired woman, whose face was a perfect mask of dignity,
those black eyes shined with love. My Miriam... well she never was mine, not really. Still, I did see the pain behind her civil facade. She looked at me with pain, fear and love. And all I wanted to do was scream at her that it was fine. That I choose this path. But no, if i said my last goodbye like that, she would end up here right next to me. And Guy, a man I hated but who truly loved her, would not be able to protect her. So I looked up at them with my eyes burning with hatred.
I would never show how much this really hurt me: to see her, my Rose on his arm. She would live on and keep up the good fight with Tuck? What would their future be? Was there a God? Some goodness in this world? I gave my everything for my believes, my land, my king. Now, in what surely was my last hour, was it all worth it?
As I was held there my family, my merry man, were led before us. They were but shadows, dead man walking. There dignity even under that filth took my breath away. There sacrifices, the hope and trust that I would find a way out was what broke me. I saw in there eyes only that calm deep trust. And I knew that this time, there was no way out. No way to get them to safety. But I could not help but try. For them... and in that moment i took away there hope, and with that hope our dignity our message.
"Please spare them! You have me, is that not enough bloodshed?" Clearly it was not.
As I was dragged upon a podium for the whole town to see their Hood, the people's hero, broken, bloody... dying. I stood there crying for the lives of the men that stood before the gallows, with no longer hope that shone in there eyes.
Pleading for a mercy that would never come. Little John, my best friend shook his head. And I bit my tong. He was right. We knew how this was going to end. "No tears, don't break" that was his last wisper before the sack was pulled over his hairy face. I could not see how his face would change colours or how his tongue would swell. I would not see the death stare in his once bright loving eyes. Still my gaze would not be thorn away from the twitching body's off my family, I did not even feel the straps that were put upon my own body.
The wheel was set up and my gut turned. Not much later, my throat was sour from screams as my once strong and agile body was broken and bended twisted upon that horrific thing. I was a strong man... even with my broken limps i could hold on to life for quite some time. I did not die that first, or the second night. I won't go into much of the details, but never have i felt pain quite like it. And the horrific moments of me being alone with the now stinking body's of my comrades and the crows that feasted upon us. Even worse was the smug gaze of my enemy who knew he had finally won.
Something was poured upon my parthed lips. "Day three, you're one strong lad mate. Tell me why cling too life? It is only bringing you pain."
I could no longer speak, every time I open my mouth animalistic gurgels spilled from my lips. I just thought 'how could I not fight. I wanted revenge, I wanted there pain justice... no just there screams. I wanted it to mean something. But my life, my death it was nothing. It meant nothing. I had not changed anything, how could I die with that knowledge?'
The stranger placed his hand upon my broken shoulder "then don't die, all i need to hear is yes" if i had known what that word entailed in that moment of pain and madness, I often wonder would I have answered differently? But from my lips spilled a strong: "Yes"
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