Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guy Of Gisborne - "Origins," Chapter 2 Part 1

The night air was cool, and the breeze made it more so. Pulling her shawl closer around herself, Cassia hurried from the barn to the house. The animals were fed, the goats milked. She was glad to be done with the chores. It was late, and a warm bed was waiting, even if it was just a pile of hay in an inner loft. The wattle and daub house she shared with her father was not a grand structure by any means, but despite its small size, it was a sturdy and comfortable abode.

Latching the door as she came in, taking up the candle that had been left for her, she turned and saw her father leaning over the hearth – and rubbing his temples, clearly in some discomfort. She frowned in concern.

“Father,” she said, “Are you unwell?”

Robert instantly righted his posture. “It is nothing of consequence,” he replied. “It is late, and I am merely tired.”

It was not entirely the truth. But she dared not strike at his pride by arguing with him. She loved and respected him too much – and more than that, he was all she had left in the world. She spoke softly to him.

“I am tired as well. Perhaps we should both retire for the night.” Approaching him, she kissed his cheek. “Good night, father.”

He gave no reply, but such was his way. When he was troubled or hurting, he was often taciturn, and so she was not offended or hurt by his manner. She knew him well, and there were probably familiar thoughts – painful ones – weighing on his mind. As she climbed the ladder to the loft, she felt a sting of sadness, thinking of how lonely she knew he was. Loneliness was a common ailment in their household. Robert DeWarren had lost his wife many years ago, and just recently, his only son. Cassia shared her father’s grief over the loss of their family.  But her sadness was compounded by a loss that was her own. As she blew out the candle, settling down in her bed of blankets, a dark thought crossed her mind – just as it had so many times before.

I am a widow. And I am but sixteen.

Both her brother and her husband had followed their passions about going to war, both of them certain that King Richard’s mighty army would conquer the holy land with little effort. But oh, how wrong they had been. So many lives had been lost, and for what? The quest had ultimately been a failure. And among the dead were two people she held most dear to her heart. All because of a king’s foolish ambition.

And another man’s slavish devotion to his lord and master, she reminded herself.

She felt anger welling up inside of her. But with a strength of mind she had often prided herself on, she pushed the thought of him from her mind. Robin of Locksley deserved no place in her thoughts, unless it was the thought of him suffering, just as she had suffered because of his self-righteous ways.

Damn Robin of Locksley, she thought. May he meet a horrible and grotesque end.


The knock on the door was insistant. Cassia rolled over, trying to open her heavy eyelids. These kind of middle-of-the-night disturbances were nothing unusual. Her family had long been known for giving aid to neighbors in need, and so they were accustomed to being so disturbed. Forcing herself to sit up, for she knew she would have to be of help to her father, she saw the light of his candle down below. She waited, and listened, as he spoke to someone at the door.

Her eyes narrowed when she heard a familiar – and despised – voice that spoke with urgency. His words could not be fully heard from where she sat, but her father soon appeared at the bottom of the ladder, raising his candle as he looked up at her.

“Come, daughter,” he said. “One of the villagers brings a child, and we must assist in its arrival.”

She sighed as she smoothed her hair, trying to make herself somewhat presentable. Not that she intended to impress anyone in particular, especially Robin of Locksley. But she did have her own sense of pride. What else of value did a poor young woman possess?


The baby boy was healthy and whole, born with no complications. Cassia smiled as she cleaned him off and swaddled him, and she watched and listened as the friar blessed him. Tuck was one of Robin Hood’s confidantes, but he was a kind soul, and a true man of God. There were many others who followed Locksley as though he might be the messiah himself, even though he was a former earl now turned outlaw. Most of them were simply poor people in desperate need of someone to call a hero, and in truth, she could not blame them for it. But there was one among them she could not admire. One who she despised almost as much as Locksley himself.

As Cassia carried the babe to his waiting mother, she heard the low sound of Robin’s voice just outside the door. And a female voice was speaking to him in return.

“There is nothing to be done about it, Robin. You are an outlaw, and we cannot change such a fact.”

Robin’s words were spoken quietly. But the pathos in his tone was clear.

“We are one soul, Marian. We are destined for one another.”

“I am promised to another,” she whispered. “This you know. I cannot change the arrangement made by my father. It will not be undone.”

“You will marry a man you despise? An evil man, one you can hardly bear to have in your company, let alone your bed?”

“Guy of Gisborne is the man my father has chosen for me. Had you not been outlawed, Robin of Locksley, I would be your wife. But you have created this fate for us. There is nothing to be done about it.”

“There is always a way, Marian. And we will find it.”

Cassia tried not to hear their conversation. But it was not the first time she had overheard such a disagreement. Marian of Leaford was to wed Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s second in command. And Lady Marian was revolted by her husband-to-be. In public, she played the obedient and dutiful fiancé, accompanying Sir Guy to important functions and social occasions, and gifting him with a cool but seemingly genuine affection. But such a façade was thin, and it seemed that only Guy of Gisborne himself was ignorant about the ruse. He was besotted with Lady Marian, and Cassia pittied him. His blindness was a source of amusement and ridicule for all of Nottingham to whisper about. But she found his story to be a sad one. She sighed, thinking that no man – not even one of the most hated men in Nottingham – deserved to be made such a fool.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Guy of Gisborne - "Origins," Chapter One - Part 2

Author's Note: I made a slight alteration to the previous chapter, in which I stated that Briewere was The Sheriff of Nottingham. In that installment, he was actually supposed to be the Master At Arms. In this new installment, he has reached the position of Sheriff, so I've made the change accordingly. Sorry for the confusion!
Thanks for reading!
More to come soon...
November, 1192
Guy’s hand paused as he reached for a piece of bread. Seated at the table for supper, he reacted in surprise to the words he had just heard.
“My bride?”
He stared at his father, who was hastily gobbling up his supper. In the years that had passed since his mother’s death, he had grown accustomed to long passages of time without seeing Hadrian. During his absences, there had been little in the way of communication through letters. In truth, he not expected any, and so he had never been truly disappointed. On the rare occasion of his return to Nottingham, which was scarcely more than twice a year, his reasons for coming were not of a social nature. He came home to see about his property and tenants, and when he business was settled, he would be off.
But this visit was accompanied by important news.
“Yes, boy. Your bride,” said Hadrian, shoveling another heap of pottage into his mouth. He took a gulp of wine. Swallowing it, and then taking a breath, he spoke in his hasty way. “Her name is Marian of Leaford. Her father is a merchant and the overlord of a small estate in Pembroke. The fortune she is to give her husband is not as large as some, but it will do for you.”
Guy felt no excitement at the prospect of marriage. What joy was there in it? His mother, God rest her soul, had known no real happiness in her union. And besides – what was a wife except a bearer of children? Another mouth to feed, another drain on his funds. A woman was nothing more than that. Still, it was his duty to marry and produce the next line of Gisbornes. He sighed, taking a sip of his wine.
“When will she arrive?”
Hadrian finished his meal and rose to his feet. “On the morrow. Make yourself presentable, if such a thing is possible.”
Such a comment was not hurtful. Scornful remarks were something he had grown accustomed to over the years. Briwere made them. His father too, of course. And then there were the whispers of servants and others. They often talked of his harsh features and bitter disposition – his inability to smile. But what in hell’s hump was there to smile about? His life consisted of routine, and that routine was not particularly pleasant.
He needed air.
The sights and scents of autumn were all around. But other than the comfort of the cool breeze on his face, he took no pleasure in his surroundings. His mind was too occupied with other things.
What would this Marian of Leaford look like? What would her demeanor be? His father had given her age as sixteen, and that made him wonder if she was flawed in some way. Most women were already well into motherhood by such an age. Why was this one not taken already? It would be just like his father to see that the woman he chose for his youngest son was of menial quality. Guy frowned, trying to remind himself that being a husband was merely another task he was required to perform. What did it matter what his wife looked like, so long as she did her duty by him?
At the lake, he knelt down at the edge, intending to take a drink. But he became still as he looked at his own reflection, and he stared at himself. His frown deepened, his soul troubled by what he saw.
He was a survivor of the battle of Acre. With the death of the old Sheriff, and Briwere’s appointment to the position, Guy had become a Master-At-Arms, and such a position should have commanded respect. And yet, he knew that no one in Nottingham thought highly of him. They feared him. And they ridiculed him. The mockery was done behind his back, of course, for they would not dare to insult him to his face. But they did it just the same, whispering harsh words about his looks and his mannerisms.
He is as monstrous as he father, they said.
Perhaps it was true. His position demanded that he be fierce, even merciless at times. And each time he captured a criminal and saw him punished, he felt justified in his actions, for the remembrance of his mother's death had never faded from his memory. He felt no pity for each criminal he prosecuted. None deserved his mercy, for what mercy had they shown Elizabeth Gisborne? Even after so many years, the injustice of her murder remained with him, and even more painful to him was the knowledge that the killer had never been found. He took in a deep breath, making an oft repeated vow to himself that one day, he would find justice for her. One day, her soul would at last be at peace.
He was cruel, as necessity dictated. But the thought that he was reviled as a monster - Hadrian of Gisborne, born all over again - was more than he could bear. Striking at his reflection, he was glad to see it disappear as ripples formed, and cupping his hands together, he scooped up a drink. As he brought the cool water to his lips, he heard the sudden snort of a horse and the jingling of reins. Then, the sound of a voice fell on his ear. A voice he would not soon forget.
“Good sir, are you a resident of these parts?”
Turning his head to look, he froze instantly. God in heaven, he thought.
He rose to his feet, slowly - his actions slowed by the daze that had seemed to come over him. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he tried to speak, but found he could utter no words.
“Sir,” she asked again. “Are you a resident here? I have lost my way, and I must be in Nottingham as soon as possible.”
Somehow, he managed to mumble a response. “I am Sir Guy of Gisborne. Nottingham is north, my lady.”
You are Sir Guy?”
Such a question was rather unexpected. “I am,” he replied.
He watched as she righted herself in the saddle, her posture perfect. She lifted her chin proudly.
“I am your intended, my lord. I am Marian of Leaford.”
Impossible, he thought. This woman, this beautiful lady, could not be meant for him. Her shining brown hair hung down in a thick braid that fell over her shoulder. She was pale and slender, but curved in the most sensual way. It was difficult to tell from where he stood, but it seemed to him that her eyes were a bright shade of green, and her face was round, though not overly so. It was soft looking and womanly, with high cheekbones – and her lips were a luscious shade of coral.
He gave his head a slight shake, trying to come to his senses.
“It will be my pleasure to escort you, my lady. Sherwood Forest is not a safe place, especially for a woman.” As he reached his horse, lifting himself into the saddle, he again heard that voice of hers. What a soft, sweet sound it was. And yet, the sweetness was melded with an air of strength.
“Do not fear, my lord Gisborne. I am quite capable of taking care of myself.”
Guy felt an unusual sensation tugging at the corner of his mouth. When was the last time he had found amusement in anything, let alone felt the sensation of a smile?
My lady is spirited, he said to himself, the thought of it arousing his interest. Most women he knew were so mousy - so submissive. Even women of ill reputation submitted to the whims of men, if only to satisfy their own needs. How interesting it was to meet a woman such as this.
Silently, he chastised himself. Regain your senses, Gisborne. Do not be a fool. Learn more of her before you rush headlong into the wild. She may yet turn out to be no more than a pretty face.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Guy of Gisborne - "Origins," Part One

Hello, readers! This is something that I've been thinking of writing for a while, so I decided to give it a go. I'm not sure exactly how it will turn out, but I'm just letting the muse take over for now. Please let me know what you think! This may end up being part of "The Tempest" at some point, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see what happens.


Nottingham, England


Dead. His mother was dead.

Through the floorboards above his head, he had heard the shouts and cries - the commotion of a violent struggle. The sound of his mother fighting with an intruder. There had been a shouted curse, and the sound of a body hitting the floor. His mother had suddenly gone silent. And he knew it then, even as he heard the noise of the thief breaking household objects and turning over furniture.

Mother, he thought. Mother…

The door to the root cellar was opened by a cautious hand. Slowly, Guy emerged from the hiding place he had been ordered to remain in. He saw it then. His mother was lying on the floor, her head turned to one side. He felt numb as he knelt beside Elizabeth Gisborne’s body. She had hidden him in the root cellar, ordering him to be silent and still, no matter what happened. She had given her life to protect her son, and now, he stared at the paleness of her face – at the lifeless blue eyes.

The door slowly opened behind him. Startled, thinking it was the return of the criminal, his head turned sharply towards the sound. His father stood in the open doorway. Tall, dark-haired, and stone-faced, Sir Hadrian looked upon his youngest son with horror and disdain.

“Guy of Gisborne,” he said, the voice a raspy sound. “What atrocity have you allowed in my absence?”


The journey to Nottingham Castle was a short one. But the road was filled with ruts made by horse hooves and wagon wheels. As his father’s cart went ever the holes that were filled with rain, Guy felt the splash of water and mud on the side of his face. But he dared not complain. The last words his father had spoken to him were words of warning, and he feared Hadrian enough not to ignore them.

You go to Nottingham in the morning, boy. You are to be a ward to your uncle. I will have no argument on the matter.

What argument could he give? It had always been known to him that one day, he would become a servant to the Sheriff of Nottingham. His two brothers, both older than he, had already gone away to their servitudes in distant households. For some time now, Guy had known that his ninth birthday was fast approaching, and he had tried to stay close to his beloved mother. He wanted to have memories of her to hold to, for he knew that once he was established in his apprenticeship, he would only see her on rare occasions.

But such memories were pushed to the corners of his mind now. All he saw in his head was her still figure lying there on the floor, the victim of a senseless crime that he had failed to prevent. His father blamed him for his incompetence. Hadrian had not said so in words, but he had not needed to. His silence spoke volumes, and his insistence on this journey to Nottingham was further proof of it. Without his wife, the elder Gisborne had no one to care for his youngest child, and he certainly could not be expected to take up the task himself.

The sky was grey and gloomy, just like the stones of the castle. As the wagon stopped at the gatehouse, Guy looked up at the imposing facade, feeling a sense of dread. He knew what waited for him behind these walls. He knew many of the page-boys that already lived there, and their lives consisted of strict routine and hard work. Such was expected in a place that was, in essence, a military fortress. There would be no kindness or compassion for a boy who had lost his mother. A boy who was the Sheriff’s nephew. Such things made no difference now.

A guard appeared from within. Without speaking, he waited for Guy to get down from his seat, and after a moment of hesitation, Guy did so in silence. Looking back at his father, he waited for some sign of farewell, some sign that Hadrian would at least acknowledge this last moment between them. But Hadrian’s head remained forward, his eyes fixed on the road before him, and in a moment more he departed, leaving the guard to escort Guy into his new residence.

Despite the warmth of the summer day, the halls of the castle were cold and drafty. Guy shivered as he followed along, fighting back the misery he felt in his heart. He missed his mother. She had been the one constant in his life – the one happiness in a dark and turbulent world. So often, she had held him in her arms and spoken softly to him, offering him comfort when his father had been cruel to him. Where would he find such comfort now? Who would care for him? Who would love him?

Turning a corner in the hall, the guard stopped at a door and knocked. A deep voice came from within.


The door opened. Guy was slowly led forward, and he came to stand before a massive desk. But the heavy piece of furniture, though nearly as tall as he was, was not what frightened him. It was the man sitting behind it.

“My Lord Sheriff,” said the guard, “This is your new page boy.”

William Briwere rose from his chair. Guy looked up, seeing his uncle – his mother’s brother. They shared the same slim build, the same middling height. William’s hair was cropped close to his head, but it was fair and blond, just like Elizabeth’s. And those were her eyes, it seemed. The same pale shade of blue. And yet, they looked down on Guy with no light of love. Just a moment of passing regard, and then a word of frosty instruction.

“Take the boy to the barracks. Find some use for him.”

No welcome. No word of condolence for the loss of his mother. Just a brief word or two, and then he was being led again, taken away to begin his new servitude.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A lovely friend, a gifted writer...

I don't have much time for anything these days, as everyone knows. But I'm stealing a few moments to give a shout-out to one of my good friends. GratianaL has been a loyal reader of mine for quite some time now, but I've been terribly neglectful of her at times. I've only managed to read some of her wonderful writing, even though on many occasions, I promised to catch up with everything. Time just slips away from me so easily these days. I'm sure many of you know this dear lady already, and most of you have probably read her stories. But if you haven't, you are in for a treat!

Gratiana's Avi
You can find her work over on Wattpad - If you haven't already, please stop over and have a look. I'm sure she would love some feedback. What writer doesn't? Give her some votes, too. She deserves your love and affection! She certainly has mine.

Much love, dearest Grati!