[Hat tip to The Giver]
Like Robin Hood, I am dressed in forest green.
I stand at the edge of the wilderness I have called home for too many years.
In the distance, I see the palace I once called home.
Where my fair maiden awaits.
It is a land flowing with milk and honey.
Close enough to smell.
Impossible to reach.
There is only a narrow stream between it and me.
With a solid bridge I myself built.
But guarding it…
BlackHeart The Ungiver
BlackHeart: Halt, who goes there?
Robin: It is I, Robin, Earl of Locksley, rightful lord of yonder castle.
B. That’s as may be. But I am the guardian of this boundary, and I say you shall not pass.
R. But am I not the lord who first put you there? I command you to leave your post!
B. Not at all. For I was set in this post by the Lord of All. And I will not relinquish my duty.
R. But HE was the one who made ruler of this land. Surely it cannot be His will for you to obstruct me.
B. Seek not to sway me with fine words or clever reasoning. I was chosen to this duty for my loyalty, not my wisdom. I have but one command, and I will follow it to the death. And even beyond.
The Wild Hermit
Well I knew this to be true.
I had oft assaulted the knight with arrows from a distance.
On occasion, a lucky strike in his visor would lay him low.
If I were fast enough, I might even make it across the bridge.
But his vow of obedience was stronger than death.
It would revive him.
He would pluck the arrow out of his brain (not his most vital organ).
And either he would chase me down himself,
Or summon his brothers to lay me low.
Oddly, they never sought to kill me.
Or, if I’m being honest, injure me more than might be needful to restrain me
And cast me back into the outer darkness.
After my most successful — yet equally fruitless — such venture,
I had sought out the Wild Hermit of the woods.
He it was who had suggested I actually talk with my foe
Rather than merely assault him.
I had been skeptical.
I had not thought the brute capable of fine speech.
Clearly I was wrong.
The Hermit was right about this.
God send he was right about the other.
R. Very well, fair knight.
I concede your claim to this border.
What must I do to cross?
B. You must bring an offering.
R. But that is what I have been trying to do!
My lady love hath lain forlorn these many years.
Thinking I hast forgotten or abandoned her.
The cry of my heart is to Give her a Gift
That will win back her heart
And restore the years the locusts have eaten.
I take a step closer to my adversary.
R. Yet ever I get close, thou thwartest me.
Rip the gift from my hands.
Punish me for my impudence.
Send me back empty-handed.
Why must you torment me so?
B. Because it is my job.
R. Damn you, man. I am trying to bring the offering you demanded.
B. No, you are not.
You are trying to bring the offering she desires.
They are not the same.
Quite the opposite.
I take a Moment.
I breathe deeply.
His answer was ambiguous.
He said “an offering.”
I was so preoccupied with regaining my lands.
I assumed that he wanted what I wanted.
And was just being stubborn and stupid.
Rather than the other way around.
R. [sighing] I am sorry, great knight.
I have greatly misjudged you.
Pray forgive me.
Tell me what is the offering you require.
At this, the knight removes his helmet.
I am shocked to see his face.
It is my own.
I am astonished to see great tears of joy
Welling from one I thought a heartless machine
He runs up and gathers me into an enormous bear hug
B. Is it true? Has the curse been broken?
Are you ready to make the sacrifice?
R. I… I don’t understand.
B. Then… you do not remember? Then why did you ask my forgiveness?
A pain seizes my heart
I fall to the ground.
Two men stand in a castle.
Alike as peas in a pod.
Save one is carefree and wild
The other serious and glowering.
They stand before a young maiden.
B. The time has come for you to choose.
R. We will of course abide by your decision.
Maiden: Then I choose… BraveHeart!
At this, the somber man breaks into a foolish grin.
A flicker of annoyance passes over the wild man, but he quickly conceals it.
R. Fairly won, my brother!
You have gained both a kingdom and queen this day.
Please, come drink with me one last time.
Before I depart to seek my fortune elsewhere.
They bow before the lady.
She blows a kiss to BraveHeart.
He catches it gleefully.
Neither sees the bitter jealousy in Robin’s eyes.
Nor the dagger he clutches behind his back.
B. Yes, my brother.
It is sad, but it is true.
You slew me.
My vow to love and defend the princess brought me back to life.
But cursed me to stand here as sentinel.
Clad in black armor.
Until one brought an offering to free me.
R. And the offering required…
B. Is that you take my place.
You need not wear my armor.
Or stand where I stand.
You are free to range the forests
And be whom you were meant to be.
BraveHeart places a hand on Robbing’s
B. But you must swear an oath.
Acknowledge me as your Lord.
Surrender the princess to me.
Devote yourself to defending me and mine.
Rather than covet them for yourself.
To be honest, I do not think he will.
Or frankly, whether I would believe him.
But to my surprise, he crumples to the ground.
First in tears.
Then in laughter.
R. Oh, brother. What a fool I have been!
B. How’s that?
R. All this time, I thought I was you.
Or that I had to be you.
I never allowed myself the freedom to enjoy the wild woods
To seek out danger and opportunity.
I thought I had to reclaim what I had lost.
What I deserved.
He grins, and claps me on the shoulder.
R. Go to her. I will guard the boundaries of this land. Not from fear or duty. But because it is my joy.
With his help, I strip off my armor.
I turn to run to the castle.
Then I realize something.
R. What is it?
B. You were right.
My lady feels abandoned.
R. But that is not your fault!
B. Yet it is ours. And she knows not the difference between us.
R. So you are saying…
B. I cannot come to her without an offering.
And I… I think I need your help.
To be continued?