Status: Complete

Robbin' the Rich


Jerusalem, 1192—under the military direction of King Richard, the Lionheart. Late summer.

Two men snaked their ways forward, slithering undetected across the sand dunes of the desert they had camped near, one toting a bow that was nearly as long as his willowy frame, the other a short sword with an edge like a straight razor. The only light came from the luminous bowl of the sky, shed by the half-moon and the brilliant stars that studded the deep black. Vegetation was sparse, even with the ocean only a day away by horse, and the mountains loomed all around the city they held.

“Much—ye be crazy. There be nay tae ways aboot it. Ye be crazy—an’ Ah’m daown-right oot o’ mah mind fer even lettin’ ye drag me intae this. Damned foolish thing tae be doin’. The Lionheart isna goin’ tae be wanderin’ aroound a’ this time o’ the night,” the Scot growled softly to his friend, crawling forward on his belly alongside the Saxon. “No’ this soon af’er the las’ attack.”

“I bet you ten pence that he is,” Much replied absently, used to his friend’s grumbling.

Robin merely growled his grudging agreement to the wager.

The king strolled into sight, amid the dunes of sand not far outside the ring that the sentries’ rough camps created around the holy city. Breath hissed through the redhead’s teeth in a violent oath—the Lionheart was indeed wandering around, and without his guards at that.

“Ah owe ye ten pence, Much,” Robin ground out.

“Aye, Robin, that you do.”

“O’ all the things tae be doing naow,” Robin grumbled, as irritated by losing the wager as he was that the King of England was going to get himself killed.

King Richard often walked around to the sentries at night, to ensure that no one was sleeping on duty. His blatant refusal to allow bodyguards crowding him while he was in the camp was famous.

Famous enough that even Saladin had heard, and sent killers to put an end to the English nuisance, for looming behind the English king were five or six assassins fanned out in the dunes, waiting to take the Lionheart permanently out of commission.

Robin muttered dire Gaelic curses under his breath. “Och—Nis a bheil a deagh uine a bhith a’coiseachd mun cuairt coltach a burraidh—” he drew another sharp breath, and hissed, “Much, yer friend there ‘as a death wish.”

The shorter man shrugged equably, not denying the Scot’s statement. “Damn it. I hope you don’t mind taking three, Robin—I’d rather not have to come down from a fury,” Much murmured back, easing to his feet slowly to avoid being seen.

The redhead mouthed something incomprehensible to himself—more curses, or perhaps a prayer for the patience necessary to comprehend these strange English men he’d thrown his lot in with, and noched an arrow to the longbow for which he was infamous. The light was low, the angle was all wrong, and Robin knew the shot was a crazy attempt, but he drew the shaft back anyway. Madness was something one got used to quickly here.

“Be ready tae jump right in th’ second Ah let go o’ this—Ah’m no’ tae keen on gettin’ ye daown from a bloodlust either,” he warned in a low tone, and released the arrow, killing one of the Saracens.

At once, both Crusaders leapt up, and crossed the small distance between them and their leader in short order, surprising their king. The arrow, despite the archer’s misgivings, had struck his target square in the chest, dropping the Turk without a sound. The Norman’s eyes widened and he had only time enough to curse at the fearsome sight of two of his own soldiers charging him.

It was a grim smile of concentration that flitted around the Scot’s mouth as he threw himself past the startled Richard—the irony of a Scot and a Saxon protecting a Norman appealed to his rather dry sense of humor—and stopped another of Saladin’s minions in his tracks by flinging his sgian dubh, the small, lethally sharp dagger he generally kept safely sheathed in his boot. Adrenaline pumped through his veins, bringing with it a welcome rush of cool-headed awareness.

His bow had been left behind—God help the soul who tried to steal it from him—and now he unsheathed the long, fourteen-inch dirk used by the Scots to fight at close quarters. A third Saracen fell beneath it with only the smallest of death gurgles, and he could hear the other two meeting similar demises nearby.

Robin spun about when he sensed someone approach at his back, dirk rising swiftly to defend. He relaxed only when he saw that Much and the English king had finished off the assassins, and that it was his friend, free of the strange berserker fury that occasionally clouded his hazel eyes, who approached.

The immediate area secured, Robin traded a speaking glance with Much, and slipped away to retrieve his bow, first cleaning the blood from the dirk and sheathing it. The Scot moved stealthily across the loose sand, checking their surroundings once more before he returned to Much’s side, causing both the Saxon and the King both jump when he materialized from the shadowy dunes. He retrieved his sgian dubh from one of the robed corpses, cleaned it carefully of the man’s blood and tucked it away once more in his boot.

“Yer Majesty,” he acknowledged the king with a nod of his head. “Ye are uninjured?”

Several guards and a clerk from the outposts came running toward them, having heard the noise of the thwarted assassination, but stopped short when they saw the bodies of the enemy sprawled on the ground.

Richard Lionhearted blinked at the Scot, suddenly recalling why the younger man seemed so familiar. He’d stood out among the recruits, the copper-headed bowman. Half-Scottish, half-Saxon, if the King’s memory didn’t fail him (and it was rare that his memory failed him); grandson of Malcolm McNiell of Dhu Lairg, a particularly powerful chieftain in Scotland, and of the late Loxleys, who had been powerful Saxon nobles in their day. War had aged the handsome face some, Richard noted, and had made the lean frame sparer. The short Saxon beside him, with the light-colored hair and a stocky build, was unfamiliar.

Oui—Yes, I am fine. I offer my thanks to you, gentlemen, for your timely assistance. It was…most appreciated. Your names, s’il vous plait—ah, if you please?” He inquired, his voice elegant with the lilt of the Norman nobility.

“Robin Loxley, Laird,” the Scot answered simply.

“Much Whitewell, sire,” the other stepped forward, beside his taller friend so that they stood as a unit.

The King inclined his head regally. “It appears that I am in your debt. Is there anything that you would wish that I might grant you?”

The two exchanged a surprised glance. They had not expected to receive any favors when they went to their leader’s aid—indeed; it had been sheer chance that Much had even thought he’d seen the Lionheart.

“Your Majesty’s leave to return to England. That’s probably the greatest boon you could grant us,” Much answered carefully. Neither he nor his Scottish comrade had enjoyed their sojourn here in Palestine.

“Oh?” There was a stunned, almost dismayed, look on the striking face of the English king. “You do not wish for properties? Jewels?”

“Nay, sire,” Robin Loxley answered this time, shaking his head.

“Power? Position?”

“Nay, sire. Jus’ home,” the Scot repeated, thinking fondly of the fair-sized property in the Midlands he had left several years before.

The fair-haired Norman nodded slowly, undone by a reluctant sympathy. He could appreciate the sentiment of ‘just home’, even if it meant losing two adept soldiers. And he had promised, after all.

“I understand. You shall have it, then, Much Whitewell and Robin Loxley, as a reward for coming to my side of your own volition. There are few, I think, who would have done the same.” He turned to the clerk that had fetched the guards. “See to it, Samson.”

“At once, Your Majesty,” the man promised, as the tall Scot pulled out ten pence for Much and handed it over with a mild curse.

A week later, a ship nosed its way out of the harbor at Acre, headed for England.
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Well...we're trying this again, because i was a bitch the first time this went up. So, here goes, and apologies to everyone...

On the other hand, comments would be wonderful...^_^;;
And if there are any issues with Robin's accent, message me, and I'll try to help. :)