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Topic Subject: FATE'S PORTAL: NO ACCESS! - Story Thread
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posted 02-02-05 15:47 EST (US)   
FATE'S PORTAL:
NO ACCESS!


A Story By:
Civis Romanus

All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

All characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: For a better understanding of the setting and characters in this story I recommend that readers take a moment and read the content of the original story, FATE'S PORTAL, found HERE before proceeding too far into FATE'S PORTAL: NO ACCESS!.

Please do not post in this story thread. Instead, follow THIS LINK to the story's Reader/Author Communication Thread and post your comments there. Thank you.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-12-2005 @ 00:02 AM).]

Replies:
posted 05-13-05 16:05 EST (US)     26 / 32  
The soldiers positioned between the guests and the area of the ceremony gave their full attention to the Sheriff, as did the guests in the room. All waited patiently and quietly for whatever it was the Sheriff intended to say.

The Sheriff of Nottingham turned specfically to John, bowed and said, "With your permission, Sire, a few announcements."

"Granted," John responded.

The Sheriff concluded his bow and turned around to face the gathered people. Meanwhile, thinking the ceremony was at an end, servants quietly scurried about the Hall beginning preparations for the banquet that was to follow. Few paid them any attention, eventhough there seemed to be quite a few more in the way of servants, mostly men, than any had remembered before as being in the Sheriff's service. One of the servants dropped something metallic causing a bit of a clatter which earned him pairs of disapproving and staring eyes from nearby guests and a frown cast in his direction by the Sheriff.

"Good people of Nottingham," began the Sheriff. "On this day of my wedding (Marian deliberately looked in a direction opposite of where the Sheriff stood) I am honored to have with us John, our great King of England." Feet in the audience shuffled. Some pairs of eyes rolled. Nobody said anything. "Though gifts are usually showered upon the wedding couple, this day I believe it more appropriate that I give to our King that which he has sought for so long. Captured in days past is the great enemy of the realm, Robin of Sherwood Forest. I welcome our King this day with the finest gift a sheriff of England can offer: the execution of an enemy of England and a traitor to its King!" A gasp rose from some among guests. The blood drained from Marian's face and her legs became two candles in an overly heated room, softening and bending. She felt a hand at her elbow. It belonged to the priest. She found her voice shouting loudly, "You promised to me his life!"

The Sheriff turned on his heels and spoke sharply to her. "Quiet woman! Will you deny the King his want?!"

"You lied to me!"

"Duty is paramount!" the Sheriff shot back. "Quiet the woman!" he bellowed to a nearby guard who took up a threatening position near Marian. Robin stepped forward only to be grasped by the two guards and held in place. The Sheriff steadied himself, calming is voice by measures and turned once again to speak to his guests. Near the door, some of the guests turned slightly to listen through the closed door to what seemed to be a commotion coming from a place that must be near the outer perimeter.

The Sheriff at first could not hear the commotion. "We are also gathered to give our respects and thanks to the man whose loyalty and diligence resulted in uncovering the bandit's nest in the forest, leading us to its location and finally guiding to us the bandit named Robin Hood. I give you..."

As the Sheriff spoke, among the guests a man-slender and somewhat taller than most-began to work his way from the leading edge of the crowd and to the place where the Sheriff stood and the King's dais was positioned. Most had paid him no attention before now as he seemed to be there as part of the wedding ceremony and banquet to follow, merely a hired man to make the moment merry with the object he carried in his left hand. So they thought, except for two men who seemed most interested in his movements. One of them retrieved a thin, flat, rectangular object from within the shirt he wore and showed it to the other, both nodding their heads in apparent agreement over something.

The commotion grew louder, and the alarming nature of it began to catch everyone's attention. Muffled shouts of men, metal objects clanging, now and then an outburst that sounded like a man's cry of pain, these were the sounds growing quickly in volume and presence. From one of the entrances to the Hall a soldier unexpectedly threw open the door only to have it slam fiercely into a guest standing too closely while listening to the Sheriff speak. The guest staggered sideways and landed on the ground near one of Robin's guards. The guard bent down to help the man to his feet and away from the prisoner. Another guest stepped forward to help.

"Milord!" the newly arrived King's soldier cried out, "we are under attack and encircled!"

"By whom?!" shouted the exceedingly frightened King.

"Men of Sherwood!" replied the soldier, just before he fell face forward onto the stone of the floor to reveal the fletchered arrow protruding from the small of his back.

The tallish, slender man was now only a few steps away from the Sheriff and the King, balked only by the line of fully alarmed soldiers who were as a group looking to the King for their orders.

Something slammed fiercely, demandingly into the 12-foot solid oaken doors at the Hall's entrance from the courtyard, forcing the doors against the wooden bar placed there by a soldier, splintering the wood and splitting the bar assunder.


All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

posted 05-14-05 12:14 EST (US)     27 / 32  
The doors burst inward admitting a flood of armed men dressed in the brown and green of the forest. Here and there amongst them struggled a soldier of the King or a gaol guard seeking valiantly to stem the tide.

Women among the guests screamed and scattered. Some fled to any nearby door, stairway or other avenue of escape. Like a sinking ship with a hull punctured in many places, these escape paths were closed off by the flood quite quickly as the men of Sherwood Forest gained access to the Hall through every available portal. Frightened almost to death, all that a woman could do was to make herself as small as possible in some corner or nook or find cover under a heavy table.

The two guards holding Robin immediately drew their swords. They would have no opportunity to use them, as the man who was knocked down and the man helping him up were Robin's men. They opportunistically took advantage of their close proximity to the guards to bludgeon them unconscious with available banquet pewter goblets. One among the "servants" seeing this accomplished quickly ran to Robin's side and with a kitchen blade he'd held for this possibility, cut the bindings that held Robin's hands together.

The Sheriff was far too distracted by the growing mayhem to pay much attention to Robin in particular. "Let him pass!" he screamed at the guard who had been pressing back on the man who was to be honored as the capturer of the Sherwood bandit. Robin, seeing Marian under the protection of the priest who oddly and unexpectedly produced a sword from under his robe, instinctively directed his attention to whomever it was the Sheriff preoccupied himself with that moment. It was the tall, slender man carrying the lute. Alan! Alan of the Dale!

"Clever, Alan, to work your way into their favor by pretending to have captured me," Robin muttered under his breath admiring Alan's commitment to the mission given them all by The Trust. Alan will protect John whichever way he could, Robin concluded; and Robin felt free to pursue other matters more pressing. He paused a moment to whack a soldier across the head with the flat side of his sword before the soldier could harm a much smaller but equally brave Sherwood man. The soldier went sprawling against the wall and sat there slumped over. The Sherwood swordsman acknowledged Robin's help and then returned to the fray.

Alan made his way to the Sheriff's side. The Sheriff's command was terse, to the point. "Stand by the King and protect him! Your future depends upon his continued living!" Alan nodded and glanced at Robin. Yes, his fellow Trust agent saw what was unfolding. Or did he?

Alan inwardly laughed at the irony in the Sheriff's words. Doing as he was ordered, he ran to the terrified King's side and drew out a knife. Alan's eyes darted back and forth as he surveyed every possible avenue of escape. There were none. Sherwood men and soldiers were everywhere battling each other. What would happen would happen. He counted on Robin to do what was right. That would be his best weapon for escape if anything went wrong. Regardless, it seemed his self-assumed duty towards Johannes would be easily achieved as events would have it.

These events moved along at a pace that would take the breath away even from a King's marathon running messenger. The line of soldiers formerly protecting the King surged forward into the pressing crowd of Sherwood men and retreating soldiers and guards from the courtyard. Those who truly were guests and not secreted allies of Robin had by now found places of safety, for it soon became obvious to the true guests that the forces of Sherwood were intent upon the Sheriff's men and the King's men and did not intend to harm any of the guests.

Two of the guests seemed far less distraut by events than the others. One in fact had armed himself with a bow and quiver, yet stayed out of the fray. The other at his side kept his hand under his outer clothing and seemed to be grasping something just below his shoulder. Cautiously they moved to places in the Hall where only men would be found between themselves and the King, not pillars, posts or any inanimate object or structure.

Far more obvious was the Sherwood men's valiant effort to protect Robin from retaliation by any of soldiers. In fact, the infamous bandit had only one need to raise his sword, and that was to knock unconscious a soldier who seemed to have gained too great an advantage. However, there was still no avenue for Robin to reach Marian, and this among guests who still had their wits about them seemed the most intriguing challenge left to any closely involved in the clamour and din of the ongoing battle in the Hall.

The point was not lost on the beleagered Sheriff of Nottingham. He had his own sword in his hand, dozens of engaged combatants between himself and Robin, and with Marian and the priest nearby and accessible by him but not by Robin, the Sheriff's conniving mind began at last to work its own devious way. He spun on his heels and shouted over the noise to the priest, "Bring her to me!" Then he went momentarily silent in surprise to see that the priest wielded a sword.

"I will not! She is free of you!" retorted the priest.

"Free of me? You insolent priest! You married us!"

"A Brother of God has no such authority!" The "priest" tossed back the head-covering of his robe and revealed himself. "I am Tuck, not a priest, only a Brother!" shouted the rotund ally of Robin and agent of The Trust. "She is free and will remain so by the strength of this sword and God's will!"

The Sheriff bellowed indecipherable words aimed with black spleen at Tuck and charged with his sword at the ready to deliver a mortal blow. Tuck blocked and paried proving what many said of him, that despite his bulk he was a swordsman of note and nearly the match of the bigger more agile Sheriff. However, in sustained combat, the more powerful Sheriff would inevitably wear down the much shorter Tuck, this Robin knew with certainty. A sword in his own hand, but not his best weaponry or skill, Robin knew he must make his move towards Marian now or see her die before his eyes. He decided then and there to do what he must do.

Two men suddenly appeared in front of Robin, both armed and both manifesting faces red with exertion and eyes illuminated with the flame of battlelust. Robin hesitated as he now focussed his attention on them instead of Marian, the Sheriff and beleagered Tuck.


All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-14-2005 @ 12:15 PM).]

posted 05-16-05 15:56 EST (US)     28 / 32  
Relief flooded Robin when he saw one of the two men was Will and the other wielded a quarterstaff, though that weapon ever so slightly caused a tightening sensation to begin in his stomach. John Little's reassuring smile and Will's earlier assurances about John, voiced in Robin's prison chamber, did much to chase the sensation away. But their conversation was short, to the point, as the situation in the Hall and with Marian was tumultuously unsettled.

"Tuck's here," noted Robin immediately. "Good news?"

"Excellent news," confirmed Will.

"Then when?"

"Soon."

"Can't wait."

"No. We shouldn't."

Robin stepped forward only to meet John's powerful left hand. "Not yet, Robin. You'll need this." John bent down to pick up a bow and quiver casually dropped on the floor by someone. Out of the corner of his eyes, John noticed a soldier moving as if to take advantage of John's exposure. At just the right moment, John fiercely jabbed his quarterstaff into the hapless guard's solar plexus causing him to bend over. With equal fierceness, John jammed the business end of his staff into the guard's lower jaw knocking the man's teeth together, the impact sending him reeling backwards and onto the floor slamming the back of his head onto the stone. "I hate interruptions," John mumbled as he picked up the weapon and handed it to Robin. "Now, let us do a little way clearing and you follow us." Robin was very inclined to follow Little's advice.

As John and Will hacked, slashed and whacked a path through the melee, Robin looked across the Hall and ahead to see how Tuck fared. The brother seemed to be holding his own at least tentatively and was giving as good as he was getting. Robin also took a moment to glance at Johannes, noting that his royal highness had sought the protection of the chair backing for cover and was cowering behind it even now. Near him stood Alan, knife out, alert to any threats. Good. Marian was behind the brother, her back to the stone wall nearby. Far too exposed concluded Robin.

Suddenly a particularly violent blow, or simply lost footing caused Tuck to stagger. The Sheriff, seeing advantage, pressed his attack. Tuck did the best he could but it was obvious the battle between them was beginning to favor the Sheriff. "Hurry Will!" cried Robin. "He can't hold the Sheriff off much longer!"

Like magnets, Robin, Will and John seemed to attract any soldier or guard within their immediate area. Their progress was frustratingly slow and prone to more use of weapons than they wanted. Despite his lack of expertise with the weapon, Robin was forced to use his sword simply to ward off a blow or to protect one or the other of them from an attack from the side. He feared he would never reach Marian in time. Marian feared for the lives of all as the battle raged on.

Tuck was breathing so hard it seemed he would never regain his breath, but the Sheriff was straining as well. In fact, the Sheriff lifted his sword too high and its sheer weight staggered him backwards opening the distance between himself and Tuck. "Why don't you finish him!" bellowed Johannes from his crouch behind his chair. The same thought occurred to Alan as he once again surveyed the chaos and determined there was no escape.

Before either of them, the Sheriff or Alan, could act on their realization, a voice unlike any other heard that day and not since years prior filled the room, "BY THE CROSS OF CHRIST, HALT THIS FIGHTING THIS INSTANT! CEASE! I ORDER IT!"

As if grateful for the command, all in the room backed away from each other, exhaustedly lowered their weapons and turned to stare at the giant of a man standing in the doorway where the smashed doors once stood. He was taller than all save John Little, broad at the shoulders, armoured in shining chain mail. He held in his hand an unscabbarded sword two-thirds his own height. Over his chain mail he wore a cloth covering boldly marked with a crusader knight's red cross and on his head he wore a crown. Behind him stood five knights, smaller, but dressed similarly. Only the tall man in front wore a crown.

People stared and stared. Their mouths gaped, eyes were open and unblinking such was the surprise his presence purchased. "Nottingham," he addressed them, "Do you not know your King?"

Eyes and heads swiveled from the tall newcomer to Johannes and back again, then repeated the motion. Whisperings of "Richard", "the King", and "he's returned" began to spread throughout the Hall. "Yes," he confirmed. "I am Richard, your King, returned to you from the Crusade. Now, by command of your King, lay down your weapons."

Clanging and thumping noises echoed throughout the Hall as everyone laid their weapons down in obediance. Robin followed John Little's and Will's example and laid down first his sword and then his... But then he hesitated, for he noticed that the Sheriff had done nothing of the sort. Instead, the Sheriff had stepped closer to an unarmed Tuck and was holding his sword behind himself where only Alan and Johnannes could see it. As a precaution, Robin cautiously slipped an arrow out of the quiver and nocked it on the bow, keeping the weapon low and as much out of Richard's sight as possible.


All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

posted 05-17-05 21:45 EST (US)     29 / 32  
Men bowed and women curtsied upon recognizing and acknowledging the true King of England. Richard entered the Hall cautiously looking side to side and then ahead to make sure that no latent foes retained weapons to use threateningly. He stopped midway as he noticed Johannes moving from behind the back of the tall chair he formerly occupied. Richard also noticed the man with a knife standing near Johannes.

"My brother, I see that you have a bodyguard. Are you in fear of something in this Hall?"

"No," answered Johannes. He turned to Alan. "Sheath your weapon, musician. It won't be needed." The musician pretended as if to sheath the knife, but merely hid it in his hand.

"Musician, is it? Odd choice for a bodyguard." Richard frowned. "I notice brother that you have not taken knee or bowed in the presence of the King. Have you forgotten your station?"

"No, uh, your Majesty. I have not." With a scowl and a definite reluctance, Johannes went down on one knee and bowed.

"To your feet, brother. Let us survey this mess of a... Now what was it you were doing in this Hall?" asked Richard, a bemused look on his face.

"A wedding, my Liege," answered Johannes. "We were celebrating a wedding, and the capture and execution of a traitor!"

Richard caused his own expression to become one of feigned alarm. "A traitor! How frightening! Have this traitor brought to me."

The Sheriff thought it appropriate to speak now. "He is there, your Majesty." The Sheriff pointed to Robin. "The traitor is Robin of Sherwood, the bandit."

Richard turned to gaze upon the smaller man holding a bow. "Still holding a weapon? How am I supposed to understand the meaning of it?"

"To place at your service, your Majesty. I am no more a traitor than the crusader knights at your side." Robin bowed as he said this.

A great voluminous cry rang out from Robin's men in the Hall saying such as "Aye, Your Majesty! He is the one who set you free! Robin is not a traitor to you."

Richard started to laugh. "No Earl Robin, I do not see in you a traitor. I know what you have done. You see before you a grateful King who shall return to you your lands and title as a reward."

"Your Majesty, I have no lands to claim."

"No matter Earl, we shall create them for you, even if I have to carve them myself from those my brother has seized." In saying this, Richard's face took on a pointed expression aimed directly at Johannes that made the younger Plantagenant cringe and hold his silence.

Not so the Sheriff. "Your Majesty, I protest! He and his men have murdered my guards and your brother's soldiers. He is a thief and a scoundrel!

"I see. Has he participated in land siezures, the taking of the lives of noblemen, imprisonment of the families of Saxon Earls and Norman Lords?"

The Sheriff hesitated. "Well, no your Majesty."

"Who did?"

"By your brother's orders, my Liege, I did some of these things."

"You and others. And now I come to learn that you have seized this man's betrothed (pointing to Robin) and made her your wife against the will of both. Did you do this by my brother's command?"

Johannes stepped forward immediately. "No, your Majesty, I ordered no such thing. I was here by invitation to see the execution of one who I thought was a traitor and was pleaded with to witness this ceremony as the man's reward. I try to please my loyal servants as do you."

Richard snorted. "It seems you are alone in your claim, Sheriff."

Tuck protectively stood between the Sheriff and Marian not liking the panicked look in the Sheriff's eyes. "Your Majesty," said Tuck, "they are not married in the eyes of God. The woman remains free. I am not ordained." The Sheriff whirled about exposing the sword in his possession.

"Release the sword, I order you," bellowed Richard striding forward.

With angered hate in his eyes, the Sheriff did as he was told, then reached into his shirt drawing out a lethal object to throw. The deadly knife in his hand could be thrown at anyone, concluded Robin. Marian, Tuck, himself or the King. He had to act.

It seemed that time stretched out slowly before him allowing Robin to see the light of decision in the Sheriff's eyes and then the motion of his hand. The target was unquestionably nearby and to his horror he could see it was Marian. In the same instant he raised his bow to release an arrow at the Sheriff, Robin cried out Marian's name. The Sheriff's knife left his hand taking flight handle-over-blade straight and true towards Marian. Robin's arrow was equally true.

Tuck gathered his strength and brought his sword up to do whatever he could to block the knife's flight. He managed to catch a piece of the weapon just enough to divert its path into making harmless impact on the wall only a centimeter away from Marian's throat. The Sheriff had no such ally. The arrow released by Robin found his chest and buried itself in his heart. The Sheriff of Nottingham fell over onto his face forcing the arrow deeper into his body. He groaned, gurgled, quivered once or twice and then ceased to move as a pool of red grew around the place where he fell.

Curiously there should have been two allies of Robin's in action, and indeed Tuck played his role perfectly. Alan stepped forward as well, but not to aid Marian. Instead, Alan grabbed Johannes by the back of his clothing and whipped his knife around in the classic motion preceding cutting a man's throat. But it never happened, for as Alan of the Dale made his move to end Johannes' life, a mighty explosion reverberated among the walls of the Hall. Alan stiffened and staggered backwards, his eyes looking straight ahead at nothing, his face registering shock and disbelief. He dropped the knife and then he fell heavily backwards onto the floor and lay there as the people in the Hall, including the King, clasped hands to ears to ward off deafness while others put a hand to their nose as the acrid smell of some unknown substance began to permeate the air of the room.

All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-17-2005 @ 09:46 PM).]

posted 05-18-05 16:30 EST (US)     30 / 32  
Clothed in his merchant's shirt, breeches and coat, he and his companion standing clear of obstruction and observing the exchange in the Hall between those present and King Richard, Godfrey swallowed hard when he saw "Alan" making his deadly-intentioned move towards Richard's brother and Clease drawing a 9.0 millimeter handgun from a concealed shoulder holster. Now would come the moment of truth in the sequence of events Citizen Godfrey feared might occur and Citizen Clease long before said would be their only alternative if it should.

Yet even as Citizen Clease quickly sighted his weapon on his target, Citizen Godfrey wondered with a quivering in his gut who that target would be. Would it be "Alan," the monicker and identity adopted by the rebellious technician from The Trust who set forth to undue the conspiracy Godfrey launched with the five agents sent back in time, or would it be Johannes, thus ensuring that the status quo in the future would prevail.

Clease professed to be a sympathizer to Godfrey's cause, but maybe it was all a lie. The shot that felled "Alan" proved that Clease was true to his word. As the Security man quickly inserted his weapon back into its holster before too many startled guests could relate the explosion echoing in the Hall to the weapon Clease used, Godfrey leaned forward to say the obvious. "We have just created a paradox in time, you know."

Clease turned to answer, but as he did so they and the other agents in the Hall had a peculiar feeling pass over them. Not that it was a physical sensation, but more of a sensory reaction imagined intellectually that was so vivid as to seem to be physically experienced even if it wasn't physical at all. "Mental nausea" is the description offered up by the few who have had the experience. The agents in the Hall would agree with that description. The sensation was mercifully brief.

Somewhere in Time a great tide of change swept onto the event shoreline and mixed the sand of events with tidewater so as to make sand depressions and sand piles on this shoreline look all the same after its retreat as if its coming had never occurred. It may have looked the same in the eyes of History, but it wasn't the same; for the particles of events were assembled differently, though collectively the shoreline looked as it always did and none who studied the shoreline afterwards were the wiser as to what it had been and how exactly it came to be that way.

Clease shook off the effect of the nexus point impact and whispered back, "Right, Sir Godfrey; but let's go elsewhere. Now."

Sir Godfrey agreed and while the people in the Hall dealt with the swift series of events-the downing of the Sheriff, the firing of the gun and the "musician's" sudden demise-Sir Godfrey and his Security Chief conveniently passed through a small side door and into a chamber leading to the outside of the Hall. They then disappeared from sight.

Robin, Will and John Little looked at each other, surprised by the turn of events. Along with Marian and Tuck, they were the only five persons in the Hall who understood what had occurred and could explain it in part, for they were the only ones who recognized the true identity of the two merchants, drawn to them by the sound of the fired handgun. They hoped they would not be ones put to the test to explain what they knew they couldn't.

Fortunately, Robin instead was promptly challenged with keeping his balance as suddenly Marian appeared before him and threw herself into his opened arms causing the bow he carried to be knocked from his hands only to clatter onto the stone floor as Marian hugged him closely and buried her tearful face in his shoulder.

Meanwhile, ignoring the men from Sherwood, King Richard strode purposefully over the rest of the distance between himself and the carnage laying at the foot of his knee-shaking youngest brother. "I hope you can explain all of this, brother," said Richard through clenched teeth, his anger seething in a sea of royal confusion. The King's brother could do nothing better than tremble and stutter.


All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-19-2005 @ 03:22 PM).]

posted 05-19-05 16:21 EST (US)     31 / 32  
Richard the Lion-Hearted departed Nottingham a few days later after promising Robin he would be rewarded with land of his own and a manor house. First, said the King, he must consult the Domesday Book to be sure of the propriety of assigning land and to make sure no loyal Norman nobleman would be disenfranchised by accidental royal decree. This would follow his brief relaxing stay at nearby Clipstone, he advised Robin.

Robin and Marian, John, Tuck and Will gathered that evening in a Nottingham pub to toast themselves and the success of their mission. Each had a tankard in hand filled with the finest house-brewed ale they could order, courtesy of the pubmaster who literally pleaded with them to permit the house to present them with the first round. It had not taken long for the sequence of events at the Hall and the efforts of Robin and his men to return Richard to England to circulate among the populace. Indeed, it was spreading all around the countryside in the wake of King Richard's passage and staggered journey back to London.

"What year is this anyway?" Robin bemusedly asked as he stared into his half empty pint of ale contemplating how long it would be till he sought his second pint.

Marian did some quick calculations in her head and provided the answer. "I suspect by our reckoning, the year of Our Lord, 1194."

"A good year all things considered," noted Robin with a smile that broadened considerably when he looked into Marian's eyes.

Will rubbed his tankard on the hand-hewn oak table making the ale inside swirl like a gentle whirlpool. "To think we were nearly duped by Alan, I mean that technician so badly we nearly failed in this mission." Will knew in their secluded spot in the pub none would hear their softly spoken conversation. "We ended up defending future King John from our very own and not people of this time."

Tuck took a very large gulp from his tankard and dabbed at his mouth with the sleeve of his brown woolen robe. "But we did succeed in proving the Nexus Corollary is a truth."

Little agreed. "Yes, according to Sir Godfrey, the reason we felt the, uh, effect, is because our mission had in fact failed and only Clease's intervention reset the nexus point back to what it was when we began the mission."

Marian looked puzzled. "I almost understand, but not entirely I'm afraid."

Robin looked at her and smiled. "I barely do myself. Here's what I gathered from Sir Godfrey when I met him yesterday, you know, just before he traveled ahead. Because we departed our time and entered a time prior to the nexus point and well before the technician bolted for the past, we were only circumstancially or moderately affected. Sir Godfrey on the other hand was significantly affected because he continued on time's path after the nexus point was altered. The nexus point, he told me, seemed to be the creation of the Magna Carta. Without its creation, principles underpinning democratic forms of government in our time would be lacking. Hence, other forms of government would be established based upon other principles. What little he could recall after our mission succeeded, he seemed to think that some form of anarchy became the successful principle of government in Great Britain. The technician was an anarchist who learned of our mission to protect the King's brother and enable the events leading to the Magna Carta, and he decided to take matters into his own hands and ensure the mission failed. We were still operating under a vague and fading understanding we were to protect Johannes who we thought had lived to sign the Magna Carta, when in a new, altered reality we were opposing the change to the nexus point that eliminated the act of signing the Magna Carta, and thwarting what the technician had already succeeded in doing."

Will shook his head. "I'm not sure I'm convinced that interceding in the flow of events is our real purpose. We are supposed to be observing and verifying, not altering."

Robin sighed. "Well, all this was true until we realized the significance of the nexus points. Do remember, Will, our intent was not to alter but to preserve. It only became an alteration on our part when the technician intervened. Perhaps he has taught us inadvertently the importance of not intervening and altering events without very careful study of all of the possible consequences of our actions. Perhaps we must know with zero degree of doubt what the nexus points in history really are before we adventure where we shouldn't be adventuring."

"Umm. Well said." This came from John Little. "Anyway, let's turn to a more enjoyable topic and away from shop talk. Your wedding. I understand we are to stand in witness, Robin?"

"Of course. In the little village church of St. Mary's in Edwinstowe a few day's hence. I obtained Sir Godfrey's promise not to dock any of you vacation days. He said simply 'Enjoy the time off-we deserved it.'"

"Right kind of the gentleman!" said Tuck, lifting his tankard. "Let's drink to Sir Godfrey." They all agreed, and with good cheer and broad smiles they clanged all five of their pewter tankards together and toasted Sir Godfrey and The Trust. Then, like good Brits should, called for a second round from the more than willing pubmaster.

All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-20-2005 @ 04:22 PM).]

posted 05-20-05 16:01 EST (US)     32 / 32  
London - Present Day

The door leading into Sir Godfrey's well-appointed office with its finely finished desk, wall of ancient weaponry and comfortable sitting chairs, swung widely open and the two senior staff members of The Trust entered in high spirits. One was Cleese, the Security Chief, and the other was Sir Godfrey, the head of Operations. Ignoring his desk for the moment Stanbridge walked directly to a low cabinet and opened the cabinet's door. He pulled out a bottle and two small ounce-and-a-half glasses.

Cleese was surprised by this, but said nothing as he watched Godfrey pour a glass each for both of them from the bottle of very fine Scotch whiskey obtained in Edinborough that he kept for very special occasions. In Godfrey's mind, this was one of them, concluded Cleese. "Sir Godfrey, is this proper? I mean, on company time?"

Godfrey smiled as he offered one of the glasses to Cleese. "My dear Cleese, we have just personally concluded one of the most challenging missions in the history of The Trust and successfully obtained the Managing Director's approval of our work and outcome. I say it is quite proper and well deserved. Besides, I would like another's opinion of this scotch that I purchased. You seem the appropriate critic to enlist. So tell me, what do you think?" Godfrey stretched his arm out to invite Cleese in the traditional clinking of glass.

Cleese momentarily hesitated, then relented. "Oh, why the devil not?" he asked rhetorically. Clink! Two substantial sips, one from each glass passed discerning palates and the toast to success was underway. Both men settled into their respective easy chairs in Godfrey's office to enjoy the remaining content of their glasses. Warmth in their bellies loosened their tongues somewhat and the normal formalities were quickly cast aside. Thoughts specifically about the quality of the scotch drifted casually away from their minds along with the vapors from the exposed spirits.

"I am still bothered by all of this, Sir Godfrey," Cleese said after another sip of scotch trickled its way down to his stomach.

"Are you? All of it... Or just one element in particular?" queried Godfrey in response.

"Actually, one element most of all."

"The technician, I presume."

"Right. I regret what measures I took. It bothers me still."

"Understandable, Cleese. Taking of human life is not desirable. But you had no choice as has been already well established."

"Still..."

"Nonsense, man. Keep in mind the situation and the tools at our disposal. Only the firing of your weapon could save that day. We've gone over that before. Besides, as only a few of us know, that is why you have been licensed by the Crown. Few of us are in the know about the support the Crown gives us and the charter that came with it. We two constitute the majority. That's the way of it.

"But a man being shot and killed before he was even born by a weapon that did not yet exist..."

"A paradox, I know, as I whispered to you immediately afterwards. Regardless, Cleese, we did our duty. You did yours as expected. If the Managing Director is pleased then the Crown is pleased. After all, the duty we undertook was to preserve the Crown both then and today. That we succeeded in this is without question."

"But is it over now? Will I have to do this again?"

At that Sir Godfrey frowned and pursed his lips. "You yourself know the answer to those questions. You have already reported to the Managing Director and me that evidence suggests more than one might have been involved. That perhaps the conspiracy was more widespread than previously thought. You know what that will mean."

"Yes, vigilance and continued investigation."

"Right, and you're the man for it. That is, you and your team of security pros." Godfrey smiled. "Cheer up man, things were a little dull around here of late anyway!"

"It was enjoyable while it lasted," observed Cleese with a wry smile. He decided to change the subject much to Godfrey's relief. "And how goes it with our newlyweds?"

"Ahhh yes, Robin and Marian, or should I say Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lackland. Comfortably ensconced on their honeymoon in 1194 AD."

"Due back when?"

"Whenever. There's no immediate need and we can summon them now that we've solved the Anamorphic Effect. Good work by that technician now departed to show us the coding error that caused it and the cure he applied to prevent it from happening to himself. Now we can do a better job of pinpointing a date in time, maybe even to within 48 hours of our target."

Cleese nodded. "Another assignment for them maybe?"

"Maybe," came Godfrey's noncommittal answer. "I've thought about the possibility. You see, the Legend of Robin Hood has been researched to the best of our current ability. We've been able to connect it to two time periods. The first and more convincing was the period of Richard's reign and the subsequent events leading eventually to the signing of the Magna Carta. The other is earlier."

"When earlier, Sir Godfrey?"

"As precise as we can be for the moment, we think it is in the time of William the Conqueror. We've succeeded in giving substance to the legend in Richard's time; but that leaves William's time unattended. Yet we cannot conceive of a reason to investigate the era, nor do we have a portal set up for then, and so have not sent Lackland or any team back thus far."

"The implication is that we might in the future, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is implied. But regardless, that's the future, Cleese, and today is now." Godfrey looked down at this glass and looked up, the engaging smile he often produced again plain to see on his face. "After all, my friend, no rush. There's plenty of time for it don't you think?" Sir Godfrey smiled even more broadly than before, and brought the glass to his lips to drain the last drop of scotch it contained.

THE END


All text copyright 2005 by Civis Romanus.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-20-2005 @ 04:18 PM).]

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