Prologue: The end
𝑾𝒆 𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒕 𝒃𝒆𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒂 𝒎𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒂𝒈𝒆
𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒄𝒍𝒂𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒅𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉.
𝑨 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒐 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓, 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒓𝒚'𝒔 𝒐𝒏.
𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒂𝒔𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇
𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒔𝒂𝒚 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒊 𝒂𝒎 𝒈𝒐𝒏𝒆?
~𝒃𝒚 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑫𝒂𝒍𝒆
I could hear the screams, their plea's for life... my life? Did they beg for me? Mercy, Those fools. I could tell them, Justice and mercy was not something that was listed in their vocabulary. It was not something these men would ever 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 injustice again, their regime of suppression and power. But ideals were not so easily broken unlike us the will of the good old folk of England would not be suppressed forever, ow dear sheriff I tell you that. With dying breath if I have to.
We played with fire, and now we would fall prey to the pyre's that we lit. All I could do now was pray, that my life, my work would not be in vain. I lived by my own morals, I was a thief, an outlaw... Scoundrel. Still, I believed that I walked with righteousness on my side right to the scaffold. Embracing my death gallantly. I would die today, but they would not break me.
The 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 the flames of your pyre, today Sheriff, you may think that when I am upon that pike you'll win... but what will they say about you after I am gone? 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 breath. let my battle cry echo on long after the hangman tighten that noose.
It was rewarded with a bone-shattering hit to the jaw. Landing on the scaffold's hard wooden panelling, my ears ringing, as I tasted blood. My gaze rose up to leather boots. Spitting out blood and perhaps some of my 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 Marion... 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 with a passion, 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 truly hurt me: to see her, my Rose on his arm. It was more painful than his boot on my back I tell ya. She would live on and perhaps keep up the good fight with brother Tuck? What would their future be? Was there a God? Some goodness left in this harsh world? I gave my everything for my beliefs, my land, my king. Now, in what surely was my last hour, was it all worth it? All that blood I had spilt for God? For the Crown...
As I was held there my family, those merry men were led before us. They were but shadows, dead men walking. Their dignity even under that filth took my breath away. Their sacrifices, the hope and trust that I would find a way out was what broke me. I saw in their 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 at that moment I took away their hope, and with that hope our dignity our message.
“Yᴏᴜ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴍᴇ, ɪs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɴᴏᴛ ᴇɴᴏᴜɢʜ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅsʜᴇᴅ?”
𝐶𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑙𝑦 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡.
Dragged up on a podium for the whole town to see their Robin, the people's hero, broken, bloody... dying. I stood there crying, pleading... no begging for the lives of the men that were lead before the gallows, lead thereby only me. I lead them straight to the noose. They answered my cry's with only dignified silence yet, there was no longer any hope shining in their eyes.
Pleading for a mercy that would never come. Little John, my best friend shook his head. And I bit my tongue. He was right. We knew how this was going to end. "No tears, don't break" that was his last whisper before the sack was pulled over his hairy face. I could not see how his face would change colour nor 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 shapes of my friends, I did not even feel the straps that were placed 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 bent 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 nor 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 bodies 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.
I could no longer speak, every time I open my mouth only animalistic gurgles parted from my lips. I just thought 'how could I not fight. I wanted revenge, I wanted their pain, my justice... no, I just needed their screams. Above all I wanted it all to mean something. But my life, my death it meant nothing. It meant nothing. I had not changed anything, how could I die with that knowledge?'