Hey! Chapter in July, just as promised! I wish I could promise another chapter before I move into my dorm in a month but I can't be sure. Anyway, this is the official second-to-last chapter (partly inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) so enjoy it. Oh and thanks HPuni101 and Watership's Nightwish Rat for your written support. And, of course, thanks to Blindluck92 for being the best big brother ever - again - for writing the fight scenes in this chapter for me.
Blindluck92: *smiles and waves to sister's fans* You're welcome. Again.
Disclaimer: Oh look! A package from my boyfriend! *shakes package* I wonder what's inside. *opens package and sees contents* Well I was hoping for the rights to this story but I guess a hairbrush and accessories will have to do.
Marian walked up to Robin as he tugged one last time on the harness for the saddle.
"Ready to go?" Robin inquired.
Marian nodded and handed her husband her saddlebags, which he draped over the back of the horse.
"I am surprised that you do not have three men coming along to protect me," Marian commented casually.
"Marian, my dear, I have long learned that you are perfectly capable of defending yourself," Robin replied smoothly as he finished securing the saddlebags in place.
Marian grinned proudly and took Robin's hand, allowing him to help her up on to the horse.
"Besides, knowing the size of the sheriff's army, we need all the men here ready to fight," Robin continued.
Marian's smile dropped into a scowl and she slumped in her saddle.
Robin smirked teasingly before transitioning into a concerned husband. "Are you sure you can find your way to King Richard's castle?"
Marian looped the reins around her wrists confidently. "Robin, I have been going there at least four times a year since I was born. I am pretty sure I know how to ride there. I know shortcuts that not even Richard's bodyguards know. Anyway, I will have Sarah to accompany me."
"And Kiara," Robin added.
Robin and Marian turned around to see Kiara standing behind them with her arms crossed over her chest and an offended look on her face.
"You heard me, Kiara," Robin responded sternly. "The sheriff took part in your parents' death ten years ago and he offered a king's ransom for your capture. Obviously he is willing to go to extreme measures to get you back and we need you to be in a safe place."
"Are you going to force me?" Kiara challenged.
Robin's jaw dropped at Kiara's nerve and Marian slapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter.
Kiara pushed forward in her insistence. "You can either let me stay and fight, or you can order me to leave and I will sneak back and fight anyway. Either way, I am fighting. You said it yourself, you need every soldier you can get."
"She has a valid argument, Robin," Marian pointed out.
Robin's expression tightened and his lips pressed into a thin line. However, once he realized that he was beat, Robin surrendered.
"Will!" Robin called out to his half-brother. "Go find some armor for Kiara. If she insists on staying behind for the battle, I want her fully protected."
Will nodded and took Kiara's arm to lead her to the armory. The two of them walked away from the horses. Suddenly, Kiara stopped in her tracks.
"Kiara?" Will questioned.
A mischievous smile spread across Kiara's face. "Robin!"
Robin and Marian looked back at the French girl.
"I have a proposition that would result in a lot less bloodshed."
"'...Therefore I, Robin, Lord of Locksley, better known as Robin Hood, challenge Sheriff Andrew of Nottingham to a French duel to the death. The losing side will surrender quietly and promise to never again threaten the winning side. Signed, Lord Robin of Locksley, leader of the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest.'" The squire finished reading and lowered the scroll to look at the sheriff.
The sheriff pensively tapped his finger against his wine glass. "And where exactly did you find this...interesting proposal?" he questioned curiously.
"Um, uh, stuck to the door of the outermost gate with a dagger at some point in the middle of the night," the squire stammered as he rolled up the parchment.
The sheriff held out his hand expectantly. The squire, nobles, and military officials sitting around the sheriff stared at him in confusion.
"The dagger?" the sheriff requested.
The squire fumbled around to retrieve the knife from his belt and shakily hand it to the sheriff. The blonde man snatched the blade, leaving thin slices in the squire's fingers, and inspected it. He smirked and chuckled malevolently once he noticed the fleur-de-lis symbol on the hilt of the dagger.
"My lord," one of the nobles spoke up, "with our superior military, we could wipe out this rag-tag group of peasants and return with the fugitive by sunset."
The sheriff kept his eyes on the knife as he addressed the duke. "Was that not exactly what my predecessor assumed eight years ago before he was defeated by this same 'rag-tag group of peasants'?"
The nobles and soldiers muttered nervously to each other. The duke, on the other hand, was not sure of how to answer the sheriff's rhetorical question, so he continued with what he had been saying.
"Sir, all I meant was that there is no need to waste your valuable time and energy on this frivolous duel."
The sheriff pursed his lips in consideration and then, as fast as lightning, stabbed the dagger into the desk. The guests jumped in fright.
"Are you doubting my abilities with a blade?!" the sheriff hissed in a deadly calm voice.
"N-no, my lord!" the duke insisted as he held his hands in front of him in defense. "I-I was merely suggesting that-"
"You were merely suggesting that, because the fugitive escaped from my dungeons, I am obviously not capable of defeating a man twice my age in a duel!"
"Ne-never-" the duke tried to insist.
The sheriff stood up from his chair, ripped his sword out of its sheath, grabbed the duke by the collar, and held the tip of his sword to the duke's throat.
"Would you rather hold your squealing tongue or have me kill you here and now?"
"Tongue?" the duke squeaked.
The sheriff shoved the nobleman away and plopped back down in his seat. "I refuse to back down from a duel. Tell Lord Robin that I accept his challenge and will meet him at dawn. Then, once I defeat him, I can force Duncan and the others to watch as I reclaim the French Huntress before our men go in and eliminate any remaining rebels."
The squire looked up from his bloody fingers, nodded obediently, and turned to run out the door.
"And tell the blacksmith to fit me for his finest suit of armor!" the sheriff added. "If these commoners want a spectacle, then that is exactly what I plan to give them."
"Are you sure this will work?" Wulf asked as he tightened his holster around his waist.
"He agreed to the duel, did he not?" Kiara replied as she adjusted her armor (AN picture what Susan wore for battle in the Prince Caspian movie except the skirt is purple instead of red).
"But what happened the last time he lost in a competition?! He imprisoned you!"
"Yes well I doubt he can imprison me if he is dead," Kiara stated. She sheathed her sword and smirked at the brunette boy.
Wulf couldn't help but grin in response. However, he was still fighting off the butterflies in his stomach. Wulf looked up at the sky and let out a deep breath. By the looks of the moon, there was less than an hour left before dawn.
"Besides, I should be the one who is concerned," Kiara added. "Are you positive that you do not want Robin to handle this?"
Wulf sighed. He had been asking himself that very question ever since they formulated the plan two days ago. The coward in him wanted to back out and let his mentor do all the dirty work, but Wulf refused to be a coward.
"Yes," Wulf answered firmly. "Robin may be the best warrior I know, but he is not as young as he was the last time he went to battle. Furthermore, he has people who depend on him and a family that adores him. I would never be able to forgive myself if..." Wulf couldn't even bring himself to finish that sentence.
"If you want to take on the sheriff yourself, I believe it is tradition for the duelist to carry a token of affection."
Kiara leaned down and cut a strip of fabric from her royal purple skirt, courtesy of Marian's closet, allowing Wulf a peek at her heeled black boots that she had decided to keep. Once Kiara stood up, she tied the cloth around Wulf's bicep, allowing her hands to linger on his upper arm. Wulf took her fingers in his own and they gazed into each other's eyes.
"Kiara, I-" Wulf started.
"Sun's about to come up!" one of the Merry Men called out. "And the sheriff's men are comin' this way!"
Wulf sighed. Interrupted yet again.
"Bonne chance, Wulf," Kiara whispered before leaning forward and giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek. "Good luck."
With that, Kiara stepped back and followed after the other villagers. She kept her head down so nobody would see the worry in her eyes as she prayed that her plan would work. If Wulf lost his life for her freedom, she would never be able to live with herself.
Wulf's feet seemed to be glued to the ground because he felt like he could not take a single step. He raised his hand to his cheek, the skin still tingling from where Kiara's lips had touched it.
Robin strode up from behind and clapped Wulf on the shoulder. "Are you ready, Wulf?"
Wulf snapped out of his stupor. "What?! Oh, oh yes," the boy stuttered. "I guess I am just nervous."
"Do not assume I am blind to the way you two look at each other," Robin added with a knowing grin. "I may not be a young man anymore, but I know what it feels like to be in love."
Wulf looked at his feet, his cheeks flaming red.
Robin chuckled. "Come along, my boy. You have a duel to win."
The villagers walked out from the trees as one big group, the sunrise illuminating their backs, and were met by the sheriff and his men. The sheriff narrowed his eyes at the sight of Kiara standing at the front of the crowd, but he would be able to take her as his own soon enough.
"Ah Lord Robin, at last I have the pleasure of making your acquaintance," the sheriff gushed as he dismounted his steed and strolled forward.
"I wish I could say the feeling was mutual, my lord," Robin replied. "But alas, I would be lying."
The sheriff arched an eyebrow and chuckled, but there was no humor behind it. "I heard rumors you were quite the swordsman in your days amongst the Crusaders."
Robin smirked proudly.
"However, that was quite a long time ago. I do hope your skills are not as rusty as your blade for I would hate to make a widow of my dear cousin Marian." The sheriff's voice practically dripped with insincerity.
Robin's fingers clenched around the hilt of his sword, but he held in his anger. "Deepest apologies for disappointing you, lord sheriff, but I am not your opponent today." Robin jerked his head toward the back of his men. "He is."
The villagers separated and Wulf walked through them to stand at Kiara's side.
"Duncan!" Sheriff Andrew growled. "But you said-"
"Robin sent the letter to challenge you to a duel," Wulf cut in, "but he never said that he was going to be in the duel. And the name is Wulf."
"Well Wulf," the sheriff flung off his cape to reveal a vicious steel blade, "it is time for the boy to learn from the man."
"Let me know when the 'man' gets here," Wulf taunted as he strode forward and drew his own sword. "I am sure he could teach you a few things as well."
They met in the center clearing, swords at the ready, bodies tensed to strike. The bell rang to start the duel, but neither was foolish enough to attack recklessly. Instead they circled one another, sizing up their opponents and probing for weakness with the occasional feint.
When they finally clashed, both struck first. They locked blades and growled at one another before breaking away in almost perfect sync. Then they struck again, each thirsty for the first blood. In terms of skill, they were practically equal, but there were always the typical strengths and weaknesses to be found. The sheriff had the advantage of height, and despite being five years older, he was slightly stronger as well. Meanwhile, Wulf possessed the speed that came with youth, and more importantly, he was trained by the Merry Men of Sherwood, unlike the sheriff who had been taught by proper and inflexible military. This would be quite the match.
Sheriff Andrew attacked with a horizontal slash, but Wulf quickly leapt out of range. The sheriff wasn't done though, and he used the momentum from his first swing to swing again, forcing Wulf to dodge again, and again, and again! His soldiers cheered. He had that brat on the run!
Tired of backpedaling, Wulf went on the offensive, and the next time Andrew swung and missed, Wulf launched himself forward, closing in and taking away the sheriff's room to maneuver. This made the next strike awkward and easy for Wulf to block while further closing in on his foe. The sheriff had lost his momentum and his balance, and Wulf used this opportunity to force his enemy's blade aside and deliver a brutal pommel strike to Andrew's face.
"That was for Griffith!" Wulf snarled as the sheriff staggered away in pain, clutching his eye.
First blood had been drawn, but it was far from over. The two men circled each other, both of them now panting in exhaustion: the sheriff from his attacks and his injury, Wulf from his dodging and his frantic counterattack.
"Perhaps I underestimated you, wolf cub," the sheriff taunted breathily.
Wulf glowered at the mockery of his name, causing the sheriff to smirk smugly...until he noticed the strip of purple around Wulf's arm. The sheriff's eyes snapped towards Kiara and noticed the uneven hem on her skirt, which was the exact same shade of purple. She had given Wulf her favor!
The sheriff roared in outrage and attacked Wulf once again, this time with a new ferocity. It was undisciplined, but savage. Such was his anger, it was impossible for Wulf to counter effectively. He couldn't even dodge, just block. And when he blocked, it hurt. The power behind every blow felt like it was going to shatter Wulf's arm.
Rage was a powerful motivator, but not an endless one. Sheriff Andrew knew this, so as much as he wanted to enjoy this whelp's pain, he would have to settle for a quick and bloody end. The boy was tiring faster than he was. Typical Sherwood: quick on their feet, but no staying power like true soldiers.
And then all it took was for Wulf to block just a bit too clumsily, and it was over. The sheriff swatted the boy's sword aside and drove his own into Wulf's side and out the back. (AN that place with the kidney, basically).Wulf cried out in pain as he collapsed to the ground with a loud thud.
"WULF!" Kiara screamed as she tore through the men holding her back.
The sheriff raised his sword over his head, ready to finish Wulf off once and for all. Suddenly, Kiara flung herself over Wulf's body.
"STOP!" Kiara ordered as she held her hand out in front of her.
The blonde man halted his blade in its path, shocked by the interference. However, his befuddlement was soon replaced by amusement as the sheriff dug the tip of his sword into the ground and leaned into it like a cane.
"Defending your beloved, my darling?" the sheriff questioned. "I was under the impression that this was a duel to the death."
Kiara stood up from the ground but remained in front of Wulf, who was clutching his side.
"A French duel to the death," Kiara corrected as she locked eyes with her villain.
"The difference being..." the sheriff inquired with an impatient wave of his hand.
"The difference being that if one duelist is wounded in a manner preventing him from continuing, which clearly applies to Wulf by the looks of his injury, another duelist, a 'second' if you will, may take his place."
"KIARA, NO!" Wulf objected as he caught on to what the girl meant.
Kiara looked down at the fallen boy with apologetic eyes. "I am sorry, Wulf, but I must do this. I cannot let anymore people die to protect me." Kiara ripped her eyes away from Wulf to glare at the sheriff. "Five minute recess."
The sheriff scowled, but even he was obligated to follow the rules of a duel. He grudgingly agreed and stalked over to his men.
Little John and Robin raced over to Wulf's crumpled form, picked him up, and carried him back over to their side. They sat him down on a fallen log and Azeem immediately began tending to Wulf's most severe injuries.
"Kiara, I cannot let you do this," Wulf croaked.
Kiara sat beside her knight in shining armor. "You do not have to let me, Wulf. I am doing this whether you like it or not. You are in no shape to walk let alone fight."
"I am fine!" Wulf insisted. "I just need a minute to rest!"
Wulf tried to stand up from the log to prove his point, but his knees started buckling underneath his weight and he would have fallen right back down to the ground if Kiara, Robin, Little John, and Azeem had not been there to catch him.
"You have lost too much blood, young Wulf!" Azeem spoke up. "Kiara is right. That wound may not have been fatal, but your stubbornness may be if you try to go back out there!"
Wulf huffed indignantly, but he knew they were right. Besides, he had seen Kiara fight. No matter how good the sheriff thought he was, Kiara would always be better.
"Three minutes!" the squire announced
Wulf looked up at Kiara, who was currently inspecting her sword for any imperfections.
"Promise me you will not get yourself killed," Wulf requested with a weak grin.
Kiara scoffed at the very notion. "Like I would ever let that happen," Kiara joked, imitating the sheriff's cocky attitude before breaking into her familiar smile.
Kiara looked over her shoulder toward the sheriff, who caught her glance and smirked maliciously in reply. The blonde girl bit her lip nervously as her brain overflowed with worry before she shook her head quickly to rid herself of such negative thoughts. Kiara put on a confident face, straightened her shoulders, and sheathed her sword.
"But she can't fight!" one of the sheriff's men exclaimed. "She's a girl!"
"A girl who can kill you in three different ways right now before you even pull out your sword!" Kiara yelled back.
"Oh no! Wha's she gonna do?! Blind us with her smile or knock us over by batting her eyelashes?!" another soldier jeered, causing the entire Nottingham army to burst into laughter.
"One minute!" the squire hollered over the noise of the soldiers.
Kiara was about to storm over there and show them just how much damage a girl could do, but she was interrupted.
"Kiara?" Wulf called out weakly.
The French girl abandoned any thoughts of retribution and immediately turned her attention back to Wulf. Azeem stepped aside and Kiara kneeled in front of the bloody brunette boy.
"Any last words of advice?" Kiara asked.
"Avoid getting stabbed," Wulf teased wryly.
Kiara looked at Wulf skeptically. "I was hoping you were going to offer something helpful."
Wulf chuckled before his joking demeanor slipped away. He cupped Kiara's cheek with his hand and kissed her softly on the forehead. "For good luck," Wulf murmured.
"Duelers to your positions!" the squire ordered.
Kiara swallowed her fears and stood up to face her worst nightmare. She and the sheriff walked out into the center of the grassy plain. The sheriff bowed with a flourish, enjoying the way Kiara's battle outfit accentuated her chest area. Kiara curtsied stiffly in response before she and the sheriff stepped five paces away from each other.
"Ready to lose, my little French flower?" the sheriff questioned as he and Kiara circled each other.
"That is what you said over ten years ago and look how that ended," Kiara reminded him.
The sheriff scowled. "I was going to go easy on you, but you just ruined any chance of mercy." The sheriff whipped out his sword.
Kiara immediately pulled out her weapon in response. "I do not need favors from you," she snapped. "En garde, monsieur!"
She was on him by the end of the sentence, and the sheriff only just managed to avoid a terminal case of sword. That rage he'd had for Wulf earlier? It was nothing compared to the fury behind every thrust of Kiara's blade. She was done running. No more would she suffer this vile creature that dared call itself a man! The reign of Sheriff Andrew ended now!
Desperate for some breathing room, the sheriff locked blades with Kiara and all but threw her away from him. That was too close. Time to press the attack himself and finish this before she caused him any more trouble. With this in mind, the sheriff lunged and thrust out with his blade, attempting to spear Kiara with his blade like he had with the man she so deeply cherished.
Kiara dodged, of course, but not in the traditional manner. She held her ground until the last possible moment, and when the tip of the blade was all but pressing against her armor, she spun around it, flowing like water. The sheriff was unable to adjust to such an unorthodox tactic, and as Kiara came out of her spin, she took her own blade and cut deep into her mortal enemy's side. She left him with a slice to match the stab he gave Wulf, though not nearly as deep.
Sheriff Andrew's armor took the worst of the hit, but not all of it. Kiara had managed to carve through his heavy mail and leave a matching gash on the skin beneath it. It wasn't life threatening, but it was painful and it had been far too close to the sheriff's innards for comfort. When Kiara just smirked, however, Andrew hissed more out of anger than agony. He'd get her for that.
Charging again, Andrew feigned a second thrust attempt, but when Kiara moved to spin, he was prepared. The sheriff mimicked the trick Wulf had used on him earlier to catch him off balance, with one minor exception. Rather than block her blade, he grabbed her sword arm and wrenched it painfully until Kiara was forced to release her weapon entirely. Then he spun her around, holding Kiara by the stomach. With her back to his chest as he faced the crowd, Sheriff Andrew placed a knife to Kiara's throat to halt her struggling. It was her knife...the one Kiara had left behind with the invitation for this very duel.
Kiara gasped in surprise as she felt the cold steel of her own dagger up against her throat. Could this really be the end for her?
"This duel is over!" the sheriff announced. "I will take my winnings and go!"
"Wulf!" Kiara choked out.
"SILENCE!" the sheriff snapped as he pressed the knife harder into the girl's neck.
Kiara hissed as the blade penetrated her skin. She could feel the light trickle of blood down her throat. This was the closest she had ever come to dying...and Kiara's eyes widened in terror as she realized she actually could die today.
"YOU SEE THAT FACE, WULF?!" the sheriff barked like a deranged man. "YOU BETTER REMEMBER THAT FACE BECAUSE IT IS THE LAST YOU ARE GOING TO SEE OF 'KIARA' FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"
Suddenly, Kiara grabbed her other dagger from where it was hidden in her boot and thrust it back behind her into the sheriff's side, the same side that she'd left exposed and injured with her earlier attack.
The knife slipped out from his fingers and his grip around Kiara's stomach loosened enough for her to escape.
"That was for my parents!" Kiara growled as she ripped her knife out of his side, only to slash it across Andrew's throat.
The sheriff gasped as even more blood poured out of his mortal wounds. He collapsed on to the ground, making gurgling sounds as the grass turned red with his blood.
"Now this duel is over," Kiara stated as she glowered at her fallen enemy. "I told you that you would need a hundred of your best soldiers. I guess you did not listen."
The sheriff's mouth flopped around with no sounds coming out, just like it had that one day ten years ago when Kiara defeated him for the first time.
"A qu'assez sensations fortes pour vous, chasseur?" Kiara questioned innocently. "Was that enough thrill for you, hunter?"
There was no answer. Sheriff Andrew of Nottingham was finished at last.
Silence fell across the whole plain as both sides stared at the remaining duelist standing.
"She killed the sheriff!" one of the soldiers exclaimed. "Get her!"
The soldiers let out a battle cry and ran away from their positions.
Kiara retrieved her sword, as well as the late sheriff's, and pointed them both at the charging army.
"Not another step closer unless you want to end up like your employer!"
The sheriff's men froze in place, dropped their weapons, and fell to their knees in respect. Kiara furrowed her brow in confusion, but then she turned around to look behind her and saw what had the soldiers so scared. A small army led by three horses galloped out from Sherwood Forest, and one of the head riders was a bearded man with a crown followed by two brunette women and a whole lot of royal guards.
Murmurs spread throughout the crowds on both sides as they realized the King of England was in their presence.
"Any man who wishes to attack the girl will have to face the wrath of me and my army!" King Richard announced as he halted his horse. "Understood?"
Every man on the sheriff's side nodded simultaneously.
"Now scatter!" the king spat out.
The soldiers obeyed and tore away like they were being chased by a monster. With the enemy out of the way, the king turned his attention back to Kiara.
"Adelise, is that really you?" King Richard asked as he dismounted his horse.
The king walked toward Kiara and gently touched his hand to her cheek, his eyes misty like he was seeing a ghost. He wiped a speck of blood off her chin with his thumb and brushed a tangled strand of hair behind her ear. The oval-shaped face, the wavy blonde hair, the green eyes with a scar over the left one, it was all there.
"It is you!" King Richard breathed out as he threw his arms around Kiara. "Oh, my Adelise!"
Kiara smiled as she returned the king's embrace. She had forgotten how much she missed the loving hugs of a father figure.
"Actually, I have a different name," Kiara spoke up as she lifted her head from Richard's shoulder to look him in the eye. "Not Adelise, not Kiara, but Liliane, daughter of King Gabriel and Queen Madeleine, Crown Princess of France."
The Merry Men gasped as they all took a knee in the realization that they were in the presence of not one but two monarchs.
King Richard chuckled to himself. "I knew I recognized you from somewhere. I guess I was right to think there was royalty running in your blood...but why did you leave?"
Kiara sighed. "I was scared. I had blocked out a lot of my memories by that point, but the words 'Prince John', 'son', and 'arranged marriage' immediately triggered my instinct to flee. I never wanted to hurt you, but I needed to leave."
"Marian explained your relationship with Andrew," King Richard replied. "If I had any notion-"
"The past does not matter now," Kiara cut in. "All that matters is that I have my closure. I have fulfilled my duty to my parents."
"And now on to your other duty: your duty to your crown," King Richard responded. "I can take you back to France. You can reacquaint yourself with your home. You can take your place as queen within the year and rule with the same compassion and dedication as your parents."
Wulf heard the king's proposal and felt his heart begin to tear in two. Why would Kiara turn down a life in a palace with servants catering to her every whim so she could live with a commoner in a hut?
Kiara's heart fluttered at the thought of returning to her childhood home...until she realized that after spending ten years living as a peasant in a foreign land, she would never again fit in with the world of royalty. Besides, France would never have the one thing Kiara wanted: love. Kiara let out a deep breath and chose her next words carefully.
"Thank you for your offer, Your Highness, but I fear I must decline. France is not my home anymore. There are too many ghosts floating around those castle halls. I would never be able to step outside those doors without hearing the screams of my family or seeing their blood on my hands."
King Richard sighed. "I understand your argument entirely, Princess, but you still have an obligation to protect and serve your people in France."
Kiara looked down at her boots, trying to blink back her tears.
"However," the grey-haired monarch continued, "your cousin Felipe is doing a wonderful job as king and seeing as there is no rule that you have to protect and serve your people as queen..."
Kiara's head snapped up and she broke into a smile. "Do you mean..."
"Of course I would have to consult with this with Felipe first, and if he approves you would still have to spend the next few months in France to see the cultural and political changes and then visit him for a total of two months each year..." King Richard trailed off.
"What exactly are you proposing, my lord?" Robin asked as he helped Marian down from her horse.
"I present to you France's newest ambassador to England!" the king announced in a loud voice as he gestured toward Kiara. (AN I'm not positive if they actually had ambassadors in the Middle Ages but I'm sure there had to be some diplomat to go back and forth between the two countries...and in case there wasn't one, well dangnabbit Kiara's gonna be the first)
The villagers cheered in celebration of Kiara's independence and their freedom from the tyrant sheriff.
Kiara squealed in delight and hugged King Richard and Robin and Marian and Azeem and Little John and Will and all of the Merry Men before she realized that there was someone missing. She ran over to where Wulf was still sitting on the log and squatted on the ground so she could fling her arms around him.
"I can stay!" Kiara exclaimed excitedly. "I can stay in England!"
"Good," Wulf replied. "Because now I can do this."
Wulf cupped his hand over Kiara's cheek once again, but this time, he pressed his lips against hers. Kiara immediately returned the kiss and threaded her fingers through his hair. The two teenagers proceeded to kiss until Kiara registered the silence that had settled over the plain.
At that moment, King Richard had finally seemed to take notice of his dead nephew lying at his feet.
"Sir Edgar, please dispose of this man I am ashamed to call family," the lion-hearted king ordered.
"Right away, Your Majesty," the knight agreed with a salute, gathering two other guards to carry out the king's wishes.
Wulf recognized the burning curiosity in Kiara's eyes and nodded for her to go. Kiara whispered her thanks and shuffled back to King Richard's side. However, the king never took his eyes off his nephew's body.
"Whatever happened to his father?" Kiara inquired in a serious voice as she and the king watched the soldiers carry away the corpse of the young sheriff.
"Dead, seven years," King Richard stated without a hint of remorse. "After I returned from the Crusades alive and well, alcohol became his mistress. The poor fool drank himself to death. I appointed Andrew as the Sheriff of Nottingham shortly thereafter as a sort of consolation."
Kiara nodded. Knowing that her parents' murderer was long gone after drowning in a sea of alcohol seemed to comfort her slightly.
"Well now I have to choose a replacement," King Richard muttered under his breath. "Gather round, people of Sherwood!" he called out.
The villagers encircled their king.
"Clearly, there is a vacancy for the position as Sheriff of Nottingham, and it is my duty to appoint someone to fill that vacancy. Unquestionably, the best man for the job is..."
And that's it! Just made the deadline! It's up to you guys to choose the new sheriff for Sean Connery (aka King Richard). You can choose Robin or Little John or Wulf or any person you think would be best for the job. Coming up next is the epilogue where you will see the fate of our Sherwoodians (yes yes I know it's not a real word, but in my opinion, it totally should be). Please leave reviews, votes, you know the drill. I love you all and will try my absolute hardest to update again before mid-September.
Btw this chapter was over 5000 words before the fight scenes were added...and I wrote about 4900 of those over a 24 hour span a few days ago before I sent it to my brother so he could do what he does best...just saying.