Robin Hood the One Who Looked Good in Green Read online

  Kylea also came up with the idea of causing a distraction at the wedding so we could steal Robin away. She borrowed the dresses and hats from the theater department at school and had the idea to stage a fight. It turned out to be one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

  Friar Tuck really came through for everyone, too. We brought Will back to the school, and he explained what was going on (leaving out the part about him living on a spaceport and me on another planet!). Friar Tuck said he couldn’t participate in our plan (or Robin’s) directly, but he wouldn’t stop us, either. In the end, he agreed to provide backup in the form of his fellow friars from neighboring villages, in case they were needed. Without them, we’d likely all be in jail right now for disrupting the peace.

  I’d expected the sheriff’s castle to be more of, well, a castle. Like the way the medieval castles on Earth used to be — enormous structures with high stone walls, and moats with drawbridges, and glass towers with turrets and acres of bright green lawns. This is more like a very large house. Certainly larger than any we’d passed, but a castle? No.

  It is surrounded by a nice lawn, at least, with a small pond in the center with a lone duck floating in it. A high fence runs around the outer perimeter, along with guards armed with arrows, swords, and quarterstaffs. An even higher fence sits closer to the house itself.

  Onlookers mill about everywhere on the lawn — all sizes of men, women, and children, some taking seats on the rows of wooden stands that rise ten levels up, others shooting arrows at straw targets set up in the open fields. Banners fly in the wind and jugglers entertain the crowd. This was what the barman had been talking about last week! The sheriff’s annual archery contest, of course! It’s the perfect cover. Friar Tuck should be here soon to judge the contest. I am eager to thank him.

  Will stops his horse a few yards in front of the entrance. After helping Robin off, he walks over to talk to the guard at the gate. Robin starts wobbling toward us, his legs still bowed from sitting on the horse. I hop off and hurry to meet him while Kylea ties the horses to a gatepost.

  “Nice outfit,” I joke. “You look awful.”

  He grabs my hands and swings me around. “Will said my parents are alive! And they’re here!”

  So I had heard Will right! “That’s amazing! How is that possible?”

  He stops swinging me but doesn’t let go of my hands. I don’t complain. “Apparently my parents work for the government on secret missions. King Richard had hired them years ago to search the galaxy for habitable planets where people from Earth and the other high-tech planets can go when their resources run out — which, as you know, will be soon.”

  Robin’s parents know King Richard? The one who used to bounce me on his knee?

  The words keep spilling out of him. “After years of research and traveling the galaxy, they landed on this planet. They hadn’t detected it was inhabited since there’s no technology here yet. They sent the disappointing report to Richard, who was about to end his own mission and return home. But the message was intercepted by Prince John. He altered it to say that Richard should come here immediately to check it out.”

  “So Prince John isn’t hiding Richard after all?” I ask, surprised. “He actually wanted Richard to see this place so the people of Earth could move here?”

  Robin shakes his head. “No, he wanted to trap Richard here, and my parents, too. After sending the fake letter, Prince John sent a fake reply to my parents from Richard, saying that they should remain here until he arrives. Prince John’s men arrived first, and as soon as Richard’s airship landed, they captured Richard and my parents. They made a deal with the local sheriff to keep them here until further notice. Must have paid him a lot of money, or promised him power. Probably both.”

  Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Will and Kylea at the gate, dropping arrows into a quiver that they must have talked someone into giving them. I’m not ready to give Robin up yet, so I pull him a little farther away.

  “I don’t understand the part you told me about getting the boxes, though, and about all of you being deleted from the interwebs?”

  “I don’t understand that part, either,” Robin says. “Will didn’t know.”

  I squeeze his arm. “This is huge. I’m very happy for you.”

  “I’m happy for you, too. If we pull this off, you’ll have your king back. Then so much will change for the better for you on Earth.”

  He’s right, I know he is. And I’m thrilled about it, of course. But I realized something the moment I saw him in the church today, when even blackened teeth and old, baggy clothes couldn’t hide the glint in his bright green eyes. It wasn’t only my brain that had been hungry. It was my heart, too. If we leave here, he will go one place, and I will go another, and I don’t think I can bear that.

  As though he knows my thoughts, he pushes my hair off my face and says, “Somehow we’ll make this work.”

  I believe him. But all I say is, “Hey, if it doesn’t, you can always go back to robbing the rich and giving to the poor.”

  He laughs. “How do you know about that?”

  Will and Kylea return before I can tell him he’s the subject of a new folk song.

  “You’re in,” Will says, thrusting the equipment at Robin. “The first round starts in five minutes. You’ll need to get through that one to get us close enough to slip into the house. Don’t miss the target.”

  Robin rolls his eyes. “When have I ever missed the target?” He slings the quiver and bow over his shoulder and begins lacing up the armguard. “How’d you get all this stuff, anyway?”

  Kylea giggles. She and Will share a look. “Best not to ask,” Will says. “Just don’t break any arrows or Kylea will have to marry some guy’s cousin.”

  Robin looks over at a group of men inside the gate and groans. “Not those guys!”

  But sure enough, it’s the same group we encountered in the woods. I forgot they’d be here, too. I wish Kylea and I hadn’t left our big hats at the church. “Quick, Will, give me your friar’s robe. Those guys know who we are. They won’t recognize Robin, but they might remember me. They’d turn him in without a second’s hesitation.”

  Will doesn’t argue; he unties the robe at the waist and slips it over his head. I slip it right back over mine and flip up the hood. We hurry past them and don’t look back.

  Robin takes his place in line with the other archers while the rest of us take a seat on the benches. I lean over to Will. “What’s the plan for getting into the house after this?”

  “Still working on that,” he replies.

  That doesn’t inspire confidence.

  A thin man dressed all in white raises a bugle to his lips and blows. He announces, “There will be five spots in the finals, and one winner. If anyone impales a spectator or another competitor with an arrow, they will be disqualified.”

  “Well, that’s good to know,” Kylea says sarcastically.

  I don’t see the sheriff anywhere, nor Friar Tuck, who is supposed to be one of the judges. When I point this out to Kylea, she explains, “This is only the first round. They’ll be here for the finals.”

  I can see why they wouldn’t bring the judges out yet. The first round drags on for hours; Robin is at the end of the line. Each arrow has to be pulled out, and the area cleared again before the next archer’s turn. Kylea and I are wilting. As the contestant directly before Robin steps forward and readies his bow, the man in charge announces that there is only one more spot in the finals. The first four spots have been taken by people who’ve gotten bull’s-eyes.

  The contestant lowers his bow, wipes his brow, then raises it again with steady hands. His arrow soars right into the center of the bull’s-eye, and the crowd hoots and hollers. He raises his hands victoriously. The announcer shouts, “And we have our fifth!”

  No one moves to get his arrow from the target like they had between the other turns. It’s over!

  But Robin steps forward anyway. The announcer strides toward him