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Getting back to the castle, escorted by Sir Guy, was much easier than sneaking in or out. People parted before him, and only one or two people tried calling out if she wanted to buy things. Most people tried to look conspicuously like he wasn't even there. They'd been separated quickly at the castle though, and she'd caught enough of someone filling him in to know Matilda had been taken prisoner.

She'd been trying to get closer to the fuss, only to realize Matilda was just then being brought out to the courtyard, led by Vaisey. Hands tied behind her back and a gag in her mouth. At least at the courtyard she could enter, as a bystander. Curiosity was free to all classes, just like confusion, and The Sheriff did love a drama if he was running it. She walked out, a few feet short of where Sir Guy stood watching.

"My lords," The Sheriff's voice rang out as she entered. "Matilda, here, somehow managed to bring a patient of hers back from the dead."

"Certified by my good self," The little weasel of a doctor, who served The Sheriff piped up. Arrogant pleasure etched all across his face.

"So, what do we have here, hm?" The Sheriff asked the watched crowd, pleased with himself, and leading them all. "Do we have a healer?"

Marian slipped even, closer to Guy, barely a half foot, apart, so she could look up to him while The Sheriff went on, and whisper, "What's happening?" But all he did was barely glance in her direction and raised one gloved hand to place a finger against his lips in encouragement for her to simply be quiet.

"Or do we have something else? Hm?" The Sheriff called out louder, that little laugh emerging in his tone, even as he paraded serious. "A necromancer? Devil worshiper? No."

He had stopped his pacing around Matilda, only to grab her shoulders, jerking her partially forward, as she he called out. "A witch!"

"She's not a witch," Marian hissed, looking back to Guy, and choosing to ignore the pointed glare he was already giving her.

Matilda, the wise woman, who helped more than half the children in Nottingham be born. Who you sent the sick and ailing to. Of course, there were rumors of other things. But the woman was as solid and common as anyone she'd ever met. Sharp tongue and even sharper eyes, and a deep fondness for all the children she birthed, including Robin.

Why did she have a feeling he was somehow tangled up in all of this, too. All roads lead back to Robin and King Richard here.

"So, perhaps," Vaisey said over Matilda's shoulder. The malevolent glee, beginning to ramp upward in his voice. "A ducking in Locksley pond would calm all our nerves."

"Guy," She said it stronger, faintly louder, demanding his attention he wasn't giving her. "You know she's not a witch."

She expected something, but it wasn't to have him suddenly, quite roughly grab her arm and half drag her, half shoving her, forcefully back into the corridor she'd entered the courtyard through. His expression so dark and tight, as he suddenly was leaning into her. "Marian, say nothing. These allegations spread by association."

Surprise at his concern quickly twisted into disgusted annoyance. There were far bigger things at stake than the possibility of her getting accused of anything by the Sheriff. Except being a spy. But she could only take one topic, here. She hissed back, "The ducking stool’s a death sentence, you know that."

"There’s nothing you can do for her!" He said, warningly, and turned to leave.

She could only do it without thinking. Grab his arm, demanding his attention. "Did I leave you die, when you were drowning?"

He paused, a conflicted ribbon of emotions she couldn't name touching his face, before they were gone, and it seemed like he was leaving just a quickly for the reminder. She called his name twice, going to follow him only to have one of his guardsman get in the way. Blocking her. Making it so she really didn't regret how hard she shoved him in her frustration.




Without a guard, it was easy to know where to go next.

Everyone would be headed to Locksley. She would be expected to head to Locksley. But if she got a horse first -- Sorely, the steed she always rode as the Night Watchman, recently found and all but hers again -- and didn't go with the retinue. She ran for the stables, and demanded a horse of the stable master, using the first lie that could roll out of her mouth.

About wanting to go ahead and prepare the way in Locksley for The Sheriff and His Witch. Before she was riding hard for the forest.

She would have to chance the spy, who already held her life in their hands, for Robin's knowing. For trusting Robin to manage whoever it was and Matilda. She didn't go with the plan, or his instructions, either. Galloping hard through Sherwood she simply began shouting his name when she knew was close enough.

There wasn't time for intrigue, small signals, waiting. She was losing time just getting here. She could so easily be caught at this choice.

It was all that she could do, reign Sorely back, as Robin was bent over, catching his breath, at the tree he sprinted to in the place she halted. She started without waiting to be asked, as Sorely danced, impatient and breathing hard, his tail flicking fast behind her. Telling him, without breathing herself, about Matilda being found out for helping him, and refusing to tell them how she'd woken Henry or afflicted him with the inability for sense.

Robin barely had the time to ask when, as she was turning the dark horse, calling out about it being in Locksley and that she had to go before she was missed. Until Djaq came over the rise, shouting that a baby was about to be born. Matilda's grandchild. The timing, all of it, all of it now, was bad.

All she could do was yell at him to hurry and spur Sorely onward toward Locksley, leaving before any of the three of them had even regained the ability to breathe from arriving.

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queenofmay

May 2014

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