Nottingham Town. Marketplace.
(Much is walking through the market shouting protests, hoping that will get him arrested, but although the townspeople stop to listen and agree, he is completely ignored by the guards.)
Much: “Prince John, in the absence of good King Richard, has turned this country into a state of terror! His followers are thugs! Our taxes are too high! People are starving! (Stops, looks around, confused as to why the guards are doing nothing. Quietly to himself:) What does one have to do to get arrested?(Much strides up to a guard, kicks him hard in the stomach, picks him up by the shoulders, kicks him in the rear and throws him to the ground. The people cheer. Throwing his arms up:) Arrest me! (Another guard grabs him and starts to drag him off. A third punches Much in the stomach, then grabs his other arm and helps drag Much to the castle.) Thank you.”
Nottingham Castle. Dungeons.
(Much is thrown into a cell next to Lambert’s. Lambert sits on a narrow ledge at the base of the stone wall with his arms wrapped round his knees. Much sidles up to the bars.)
Much: (Whispers:) “Hello. (Lambert ignores him.) Psst. (Lambert looks up glowering.) I am a friend of Robin Hood. And this… holds up a lock pick… is a rescue. (Lambert frowns sceptically and the doors squeak open above as Much tries to pick at his manacles. He looks up as he notices someone stepping into view at the far end of the dungeons. to himself:) Gisborne.”
(Much fumbles and drops the pick. Panicked, he sits back as Gisborne approaches him.)
Gisborne: “Take this runt…(pointing to Much)… to the Great Hall. (Guards come in and drag Much off. to Lambert:) Lambert, help me to help you. I cannot hold off the Sheriff much longer.”
Nottingham Castle. The Great Hall.
(The guards push a shackled Much into the centre of the room. Gisborne follows him in. The Sheriff enters from above. Much freezes when he hears the Sheriff’s voice.)
Sheriff: (Coming downstairs:) “Lambert should be at the screaming stage right now, but all I hear is nothing.”
Gisborne: “I’m determined to reason with him, my lord.”
Sheriff: “Ah, really? (Walks to Much.) And is it working… (looks at Much…) reason? You going soft, Gisborne, hm? (Faces Gisborne and steps back to circle Much.) Because he’s your friend, is that it? Well, leave him with me. I’ll reason with him.”
Gisborne: “I can handle him.”
Sheriff: “No-no, you failed me. You’re off the project. (Gisborne turns his head aside, biting back his temper.) Now, what [points at Much] is this creature doing here?”
Gisborne: (Proudly:) “This is one of Robin Hood’s inner circle. This is his
Sheriff: (Sarcastically:) “Oh, bravo!” (Steps to Gisborne.)
Gisborne: “He can tell us all we need to know about the outlaws.”
Sheriff: “Like what, hm? That Robin Hood is against us? That he keeps moving his camp on, hm? There’s nothing to know!”
Gisborne: “All right. So hang him then, make an example.
(Much looks up but shows no emotion.)
Sheriff: “Brilliant! (Whispers in Gisborne’s face:) A clue:… (looks at Much)… no. Hang him… (walks behind Much)… and you have an instant martyr. Suddenly, everybody loves Robin Hood.”
Gisborne: “So what would you suggest we do with him, then?”
Sheriff: “I’ll make a real example of this man.”
(Much’s eyes widen as the Sheriff chuckles.)
Sherwood Forest. A path to Nottingham.
(Little John, Djaq, Allan and Robin, in cloaks, are heading to Nottingham to help rescue Much and Lambert.)
Allan: “Does anyone fancy a wager? (No answer.) Yeah? Who thinks he’ll get out on his own?”
Robin: (Glances back at Allan.) “Trust me, Allan. Much can do it.”
Allan: “Are we talking about the same Much?”
Nottingham Castle. The Great Hall.
(Much is seated at one end of the long table, which has been lavishly piled with food. The Sheriff is at the other end.)
Much: “I will not poison myself. You will have to kill me first.”
Sheriff: (Stands.) “Poison yourself? (Walks briskly down the table to Much and picks up a goblet.) This… (holds the goblet to Much’s nose)… is Burgundy wine. And this… (picks off a piece of meat and holds it in Much’s face)… is the verybest venison, hm? (Eats the meat.) Mm. A feast. Drinks. Although, granted, it may taste like poison to a peasant’s palate. (Holds the goblet to his lips, raises his eyebrows at Much, then drains the goblet. Much hesitantly takes a bite of a plum.) Hm… which reminds me. Gisborne, your sword. (Much stops eating and glances at Gisborne wide-eyed.) We’re going to take hearts and minds to a new level. (Gisborne draws his sword. At the sound of it ringing, Much glances at Gisborne uncertainly, then the Sheriff. He pushes the Sheriff aside to make a break for it. Calmly:) Stop him. (Two guards catch Much.) Make him kneel. (The Sheriff checks the edge of the blade as Gisborne walks over to Much, who is struggling to get free. Gisborne puts a hand on Much’s head and pushes him to his knees. The Sheriff approaches Much, point first. Much stares at the point as it reaches his face and cringes, expecting the worst.) By the powers vested in me… blah-di-blah-di-blah, I dub you… (taps Much’s shoulders in turn with the blade) … Earl of Bonchurch. Hm? (The Sheriff puts the point of the sword under Much’s chin, forcing him to look up.) That’s what you were promised, wasn’t it, when you came home? Hm? (Gisborne looks at the Sheriff, astonished.) Stand! (The Sheriff glances at Gisborne, who then pulls Much to his feet.) Lord Much! Well… (swings the sword back to Gisborne.) Do you feel honoured?”
Much: (Astonished:) “Have you really just made me an earl?”
Sheriff: “Well, not quite. No. I will have a word with Prince John and he will make it official. (Gisborne shakes his head.) So, you will have all the privileges and luxuries of a lord. You will take your seat in the lodge at Bonchurch. Oh, and er, I expect you at the Council of Nobles tomorrow. (Sits in Much’s seat and eats the plum.) Mm.”
(Gisborne glowers at Much, unhappy that the Sheriff appears to have given away a piece of his estate.)
Nottingham Castle. Dungeons.
(Lambert is hanging by his hands, chained to the ceiling, trying not to make any sound as the Sheriff comes downstairs with Gisborne behind him. Lambert looks up as he approaches, his lips trembling.)
Sheriff: “You’re an intelligent young man. What would you do if you were me, hm? (The Sheriff pokes Lambert in the chest and Lambert cries out a bit.)
I have a little of your very exciting black powder and I want some more. (Feigns being hurt:) But you won’t give any more, poo.”
Lambert: (Still trembling:) “I’ll not allow you to use this as a weapon.”
Sheriff: “But if I ask you nicely… will you give me your ledger with the formula, please? (Lambert hums quietly.) Well, there’ll be no nicey nicey now. Have fun. (Turns to the jailer.) Show him the instruments of torture.”
(Gisborne turns away.)
Lambert: “Guy!” (The jailer nods as a large object slides across the floor. Lambert looks about wildly in terror.)
Nottingham Castle. Guest chamber.
(The Sheriff and Gisborne spy on Much from behind an ornate wooden wall. Much is being fitted with lordly robes of bright orange.)
Sheriff: “Don’t take it so personally, Gisborne. Consider if you will the effect on the peasants. “Oh, look, one of us has been made a noble. If we work hard, keep our heads bowed, good little boys and girls, maybe we’ll get rewarded, too.” You see, our point of view is that of money and power. Give him money and power, well, he sees the world from our point of view. Oh, and erm, just between you and me, I’ve a certain person in place who’ll keep him on track… loyal, trustworthy.”
(Gisborne watches with narrowed, angry eyes.)
Gisborne: “If you’ll excuse me, my lord.” (Leaves.)
Nottingham Castle. Courtyard.
(Marian comes down the main steps towards the gate. Gisborne kicks a bench under the tree as she passes. She walks over to him.)
Marian: “Guy! (Gisborne turns away from Marian.) You are upset.”
Gisborne: “I’m fine. I cannot discuss it.” (Leans on a low branch.)
Marian: “I had not imagined the man who wishes to marry me would shut me out of his thoughts.”
Gisborne: “Forgive me, Marian. I’m not myself.”
Marian: “Has the Sheriff angered you?”
Gisborne: “No, the Sheriff undermines me whenever possible.
That’s not unusual.”
Marian: “Is this about Lambert and finding the ledger? This black powder is costing you a dear friend.”
Gisborne: “I am angry, Marian, because the Greek fire was my project and the Sheriff took it away from me.”
Marian: (Thinks a moment, and comes up with a plan to save Lambert.) “Suppose we were to take matters into our own hands. (Gisborne looks back at her.) Surely the Sheriff would not mind how you went about it. He strikes me as an endgame man. If you could find the ledger…”
Gisborne: “What would you suggest?”
Marian: (Looks around and whispers:) “Show Lambert you are still his friend. Take him to a place of safety. You always say people respond to loyalty.”
Gisborne: ”No. Lambert would never trust me now.”
(The Sheriff eavesdrops on them from the east exterior corridor.)
Marian: “I think he would if you proved beyond all doubt that you could
Marian: “Take him to Kirklees. Perhaps tomorrow. There is a Council of Nobles so the Sheriff will be busy. Regain Lambert’s trust. (Marian gingerly puts her hand on Gisborne’s shoulder and he turns looks down at it.) You and he are old friends. Build on that friendship.”
Gisborne: “Very well.”
Sheriff: (Quietly, so they do not overhear:) “Lepers, Gisborne. Lepers.”
(The Sheriff backs away out of sight, but a hawk cries and Gisborne turns his head as if he’s heard something.)
The approach to Nottingham Town.
(A coach leaves the town gate. The gang are waiting for Much under the bridge.)
Robin: (to Little John on his left:) “He should be here by now. John, head towards the sewer entrance and join Will. (Looks to Djaq at his right.) Djaq, gather some horses by the east gate and go and get— (Robin abruptly stops speaking as he notices Djaq staring at the coach and turns to see Much inside. Much looks at them out of the corner of his wide eyes. They all stare incredulously as Much rides past.)
Allan: “All bets are off. (Robin tries to get Much’s attention by hissing. Much turns his head to continuing staring at them.) Robin, what is going on?”
Robin: “Right. Let’s follow.”