Desperate Times…(pt.5)

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(Robin unties Marian’s hands. Marian loses her balance and grabs a branch.)
Robin: “You all right?”
Marian: (Quietly:) “Yeah.” (Her face shows pain and she rubs under her arms where the rope cut in.)
Robin: “I won’t leave you behind, but we can make him think that I will.”
(They look down at Gisborne as he speaks.)
Gisborne: “So now we can all see the famous Robin Hood for who he really is, a common coward using an innocent woman as a hostage!”
(Will, still dressed as a guard and with helmet on, sneaks forward towards the soldiers, who all have their attention up the tree.)
Robin: “She’s not an innocent! She’s one of you lot! A pampered parasite living off the backs of the poor! (Marian raises her brows at another one of Robin’s "little speeches.”) It’s nothing personal.“
(As Gisborne speaks, Will grabs a spool of wire, a worn lump of flint and the bag on which they sit. He sneaks back to the gang.)
Gisborne: "You can’t hide behind her skirts for ever! Come down and fight like a man!”
Robin: (Sternly:) “Remove your soldiers, Gisborne, or she dies at sundown!”
Gisborne: (to Allan:) “He wouldn’t do that, would he? He’s bluffing. This is a siege. All I have to do is wait.”
Allan: “Well, you can’t wait too long, though. You know as soon as the Sheriff gets back, she’s gonna die.”
(Gisborne looks fiercely up the tree and draws his bow as Will rejoins the gang, removes his helmet and tosses the bag of treasures to the Fool.)
Little John: “Ready? (The Fool nods.) Let’s go.”
(The gang scatter out behind Gisborne and start lighting smoky fires with flints. They run off to set more round the tree. Allan notices the smoke.)
Allan: “The forest’s on fire.”
Gisborne: “It’s a smoke screen. (Turns to the soldiers:) You, you, and you, find the fire. Put it out. His men are in the forest. (Gisborne draws at the tree as Allan checks the forest behind him.) Right. Surround the tree! Move! (The soldiers spread out as the smoke thickens.) Make sure you can see the man on either side of you at all times!”
(Will and Little John put the second part of their plan into action. Will runs over to Little John with a bow.)

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(Will carefully aims the bow and shoots an arrow with a rope tied to it. It hits the tree trunk right between Robin and Marian, who are startled by it.)
Gisborne: “I know what you’re doing, Hood, and it won’t work!” (In the tree, Robin pulls the arrow out of the trunk and notices a small piece of paper wrapped around it.) We’re ready for you! Ready and waiting! (Robin unfurls the note and reads it, then nods.)
Robin: “It’s from Will. (Crumples the note.) He’s got a plan.”
(Marian looks down the length of the rope. Below, Will wraps the rope round a tree trunk. Will hands the rope to Little John. In the tree, Robin ties his end round a thick branch. The Fool runs over to help and tests the tautness as Little John anchors his end round his shoulders. In the tree, Robin has looped the cord of Lardner’s cage over his head and shoulder and is making a last check on his end of the rope.)
Robin: “Marian, you’ll have to put your arms around me.”
Marian: (Quietly, unhappily, resolutely:) “No. I’m not coming.”
Robin: “Marian, we haven’t got time for this!”
Marian: “Then go… before they see the rope.”
Robin: “We can both go… now.”
Marian: “I’m staying here… until you get away safely.”
Robin: “This is about Gisborne, isn’t it?”
Marian: (Earnestly:) “No. (Marian puts her hand on Robin’s shoulder. Robin bites his lip at the prospect of losing her.) Inside us, we both know we belong together… and being apart will tear me apart, but I’m more use in the castle. I can protect you better from there. It’s our only hope. Trust me.”
(Robin looks down and digs out a ring from under his jacket.)
Robin: (Solemnly:) “Give me your hand.”
Marian: “Is this a trick?” (Robin gently grabs her left hand off the branch and slides the ring onto her finger.)
Robin: “It’s an engagement ring. (Kisses the ring and sighs, then looks at her sadly.) This afternoon we had a plan.”
Marian: “Yes. Find Lardner and bring the King home. Defeat the Sheriff and get married, in that order, Robin. (Puts a hand on the back of his neck.) First things first. This isn’t what I want to do. It’s what I have to do.”
(Robin reluctantly agrees.)
Robin: (Almost inaudibly:) “Yeah. (Stares into her eyes.) I love you.”
Marian: “I love you, too.”
(They kiss a long moment. Marian smiles sadly, then Robin puts his bow over the rope and slides down to the ground under the cover of the smoke. Little John catches him at the bottom.)
Marian: (With feigned distress and helplessness:) “Help! Somebody please help me! Robin’s gone! He’s left me up here to die! Help me!”
Gisborne: “Marian, I’m coming! (Throws the rope up the tree. Climbing up the tree. Straining and grunting with effort:) I’m coming, Marian. (Marian pulls Robin’s ring off her finger, hides it in her hand and cries with genuine emotions now mixed in.) I’ll soon be there! Marian, hold on!”
Marian: “Hurry up! Please hurry!” (Gisborne reaches Marian and pulls her back onto the branch.)
Gisborne: “It’s all right. I’ve got you. I’ve got you. (Marian pulls her wrists from the rope, braces herself between branches and sobs with relief, the ring still hidden in her fist. Gisborne holds her close.) You’re coming with me. You’re safe now.”

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Further out in the forest.
(Robin and Little John join the Fool and Will waiting on horseback. Three more horses wait nearby. Robin takes the cord off and hands the cage to Will.)
Robin:
“Is the note ready?”
Will: “Yeah. Where’s Marian?”
Robin: (Looking back.) “She’s fine. Just get out of here and don’t let that bird go until you’re out of range, right?”
(The Fool and Will ride first through the forest, Robin behind them.)
Robin: “Release the bird! Release him!”
(Unbeknownst to Robin, the Sheriff is sitting nearby on his horse with his hawk. He smiles and looks up. Will and the Fool stop. Will takes Lardner out of his cage and looks back to see horsemen in pursuit. Robin stops and looks back as a bird takes to the air.)
Allan: “Come on!” (The archers shoot at the bird, but they all miss. Much and Djaq, on foot, hop up onto a large boulder to watch.)
Much: (Pointing:) “There!” (Robin smiles at the bird flying free. The Sheriff is calmly sitting on his horse, watching things unfold as he expected.)
Sheriff: (Singsong to his hawk:) “And fetch.” (The Sheriff releases his hawk, which immediately goes after the pigeon. Much watches in consternation.)
Much: “No!”
(The Sheriff watches eagerly as the hawk snatches the pigeon from the air. He mimics the catch by swiping his fist closed and grins evilly.)
Isabella: (Sardonically:) “Such a pity.”
(Djaq puts her hands on her head in disbelief, then puts her hand on Much’s shoulder. The Sheriff chuckles. Robin stares, angry at being outsmarted, then turns his horse and gallops off.)

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Marian & Robin Sitting In A Tree (pt.4)

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Sherwood Forest. Lardner’s tree.
(Robin has taken off his quiver and set it next to Lardner’s cage where he can grab the arrows easily. He has an arrow nocked and is pointing his bow at the ground.)
Robin: “Marian, they don’t know you’re up here. If I make a run for it, they’ll follow me and you can escape with Lardner.”
Marian: (Looking down. With alarm:) “They’re coming back.”
(Two soldiers advance towards the tree, holding their shields over their heads. Allan is crouched down behind them, holding a broadaxe. Robin draws, waiting for a shot. As Marian aims her bow, Robin shoots the first soldier in the foot, forcing him to step back and drop his shield. The Sheriff and Gisborne exchange glances. The first soldier ducks behind the second. Marian shoots at the foot of the second, but narrowly misses. Allan peers around the soldiers and up into the tree, reaching out with the axe. Robin draws as Marian nocks another arrow, then shoots, knocking the broadaxe out of Allan’s hand. Allan ducks behind the soldiers again. Robin aims and shoots again and the arrow bounces off the shield.)
Marian: “That is a complete waste of arrows.”
Robin: (Nods, glaring at Allan with narrowed eyes. Quietly:) “I’m just giving Allan something to think about.”
Marian: “Think about us running out of arrows!”
Robin: “Look, look! They’re retreating.”
(Allan and the soldiers walk backwards, then Allan ducks behind a tree, dashes behind another next to it and looks a bit fearfully at Gisborne.)
Sheriff: “I have an idea. Do not let them escape while I’m gone.”
Gisborne: “They’ll be dead by the time you get back.”
Sheriff: “I won’t hold my breath.” (The Sheriff canters off on his horse. Marian and Robin watch him go. Marian gets an idea.)
Marian: “Maybe you could use me as a hostage.” (Marian looks at Robin and he looks at her in disbelief.)
Robin: “What?”
Marian: “Well, you know Gisborne’s feelings for me. He might let you go if he thought it meant getting me back.”
Robin: “Are you mad?”
Marian: “I could say I was on my way home to him and… and you ambushed me in the forest.”
Robin: “He’ll never fall for it. And how would that look, "Robin Hood takes Lady Marian hostage”?“
Marian: "Oh, yes, us dying together might look better, but it won’t bring the King home.”
Robin: “Even if Gisborne fell for it, the Sheriff wouldn’t.”
Marian: “The Sheriff’s gone. While Gisborne’s in charge… Look, Robin, this could be our last chance.”
Robin: (Interrupting:) “No! It’s not happening!”
Marian: (Trying to be patient:) “Robin, have you got a better idea?”
(Robin is flustered because he hasn’t.)

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Sherwood Forest. Outlaws’ camp.
(Djaq, Little John and Much are still discussing the wording of the note. Little John is sitting at Djaq’s feet. Much paces in front of them, reciting.)
Much: “Right – "Your Majesty. No reinforcements. John plots to steal your throne. (Little John nods his approval.) Come home… now.” (Little John nods again as Djaq writes, leaning on her knee. Little John nods, satisfied.) Short, sharp and to the point.”
Djaq: (Picking up the parchment and reading it:) “I’ll add "make peace… before "come home.” (Puts the note down to write.) “Make peace… immediately.”
Much: (Smiles, pleased.) “Ah… Well, you know, I do like "immediately.”
(Suddenly the Fool steps into the camp adding his thought, dressed in the Jailer’s clothes.)
Fool: “But it needs more emotion. (Little John stands with his staff, ready to use it as Much grabs a long-handled spoon from the kitchen and Djaq bends down for her sword and draws it. They point their weapons at the Fool, who continues on undeterred.) Make it bigger, raise the stakes and alliterate. Alliteration makes it much more memorable.” (Smiles.)
Much: “Where have you come from?”
Fool: (Slightly irked:) “I appear, I disappear… It’s what I do. To tell how would spoil the illusion.”
(Will runs in beside him dressed in his former guard’s uniform.)
Will: “He’s with me.” (Will rips off the face-mail and takes off the helmet. The others relax with sighs.)
Djaq: “I thought you’d been caught.” (Sheathes her sword.)
Fool: “Madam, manacles mere mist to myself and… (tails off, at a loss for words. Will looks at him.) … my mate.” (Smiles.)
Will: “You know about the pigeon?”
Much: “Yes. Robin and Marian have gone to get him.”
Will: “Yeah, well, so have the Sheriff and Gisborne. They’ve got them trapped up a tree, surrounded.”
Little John: (Turns to Djaq and Much.) “We need to go… now!”
Much: “Immediately!” (The gang scramble to get ready.)

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Sherwood Forest. Lardner’s tree.
(The reinforcements arrive from the castle and encircle the tree.)
Gisborne: “OK, line up. You, over there! (In the tree, Robin’s eyes widen and he sighs as their situation becomes more grim.) Let’s get him down. Right, line up!”
Nottingham Castle. Courtyard. (The Sheriff dismounts.)
Sheriff: “Saddle me up a horse. Make it a fast one. (Noticing Isabella stood in the cloister.) Ah Isabella, did you enjoy the executions?”
Isabella: “Oh yes they were most…entertaining, Vaisey.”
Sheriff: “Good. Tell you what, if you don’t mind riding, why don’t you grab yourself a horse and join me on the ride back to the forest – you won’t want to miss this.”
Isabella: (Moving quickly down the steps:) “I’d hate to miss all the fun.”
Sheriff: “Excellent. (He looks up at the gallows where two bodies hang, hoods over their heads, dressed as the Fool and Will, and is satisfied.) I’ll be leaving shortly.” (Runs up the steps and inside.)
Sherwood Forest. Lardner’s tree.
(Allan, behind the soldiers in two lines of five shields each, start to shuffle towards the tree.)
Marian: “I’ll scream. Then I can say you were holding me hostage.”
Robin: “You didn’t scream earlier. He’s not stupid. I’ll deal with this, Marian. (Below they can see the shields advancing.) It’ll take them hours to cut down this tree. And in that time the gang’ll realise something’s wrong. (Marian nods, not convinced in the least.) Yeah? They’ll come and help.”
(Allan and one shield-bearer step forward to the tree.)
Allan: “Come, come. That’s it. Stop.”
(Robin and Marian strain to see what Allan will do.)
Marian: “I can’t hear an axe. What are they waiting for? (Below, Allan sets down a bucket and splashes a black liquid onto the tree with a bowl. Robin sighs and hangs his head in utter dismay.) You know what that is, don’t you?”
Robin: “It’s pitch. (Below, Allan splashes the bucket’s contents onto the trunk.) It burns hot and it burns fast.” (Allan retreats to the others under the cover of the shield. Once back into position, the shield wall retreats.)
Gisborne: “You tried to cover me in pitch once, Hood, do you remember? (Gisborne takes a bow from a man behind him. Allan stands unhappily next to him holding a lit torch and a raised shield.) Tried to cook me alive in my own armour!”
Robin: (From the tree:) “Yeah! I should’ve gone through with it!”
Gisborne: (Smirks.) “Talking trees are good, but burning bushes are better. (Motions to Allan to follow him and slowly steps forward.) And I don’t see a trough of water for you to jump into.”
(Robin finishes nocking one of Marian’s arrows and draws at Gisborne. Marian watches miserably, thinking through the flaws in her original plan, having made up her mind to return to her position as spy in the castle.)

Marian: “If I were bound and gagged, I couldn’t scream. So all we have to do—”
Robin: (Interrupting:) “No!”
Marian: “There’s no other way!” (Gisborne dips an arrow into the bucket of pitch, then glances up at the tree. He holds the arrow up, about to light it in the torch, but Robin shoots it out of his hand.)
Robin: (Looks at Marian sternly.) “There’s always another way.”
Gisborne: “Shields!” (All the shield-bearers retreat backwards towards Gisborne, holding their shields over their heads.)
Marian: “This is just putting off the inevitable.”
Robin: “You’re not going back to him.”
Marian: “I can do more good in the castle.”
Robin: “Marian, I would rather die here than have you go back to the—”
Marian: (Interrupting bitterly:) “If you die now, my father died for nothing!”
Robin: “Trust me, I’ll get us out of this—”
Marian: (Interrupting:) “No, you won’t! Not without my help. Look, we’re in this together. (Firmly:) Now tie me up.”
Gisborne: “Right, listen to me. He’s only got two choices now: run or burn. Either way, he’s finished. After three, open the shield wall. One… (Dips a second arrow tip in the pitch bucket.) Two… (Gisborne lights the arrow in the torch, much to Allan’s chagrin.)… Three!”
(The shield wall splits open. Gisborne draws, then spies Marian, a gag in her mouth and her hands bound behind her, being lowered to the ground. Gisborne stops. The gang watch in shock. Marian grunts as the rope bites into her. Robin lets go of the rope, wrapped around a branch to prevent it from falling further, and whips his bow off over his head.)
Robin: (With arrow nocked:) “Gisborne! If I die, Marian dies!”
Gisborne: (Panicked:) “No! (Hands the arrow to a man behind him, then turns to the shield wall.) Move! (Runs forward with his bow.) Marian!”
(Robin shoots and the arrow lands directly in front of Gisborne, who stops short and aims up into the tree.)
Robin: “So it’s true. Draws his bow. You still love her. I’ve found your weakness, Gisborne.”
Gisborne: “If you harm a single hair on her head, I swear I will kill you. You will die more slowly and more painfully than any man has ever died before.”
Robin: “Well, I thought that was the point!”
Gisborne: “No. It would have been relatively quick and painless.”
Robin: “You let me go, I’ll leave her behind, untouched.”
Gisborne: (Glances back.) “I’ll think about it. (Stares up at Robin, then takes a step backwards.) Everybody back!”
Allan: “Stay together!”
Gisborne: “Move!” (Behind Gisborne, the gang relax.)
Will: “Well… that bought us some time. (Robin hauls Marian back up the tree.) Any ideas?”
Fool: “We need to make Robin and Marian disappear.”
Much: “How do we do that?”
Fool: (Proudly:) “A puff of smoke.”

Nab him – jab him – tab him – grab him – Catch that pigeon now! (pt.3)

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Nottingham Castle. Sheriff ’s quarters.
(The Sheriff is sat inspecting the inside of the lid from the woodcock’s platter with Isabella by his side when Gisborne enters.)
Sheriff: “Ah. Gisborne the gullible. (Gisborne turns his head away and rolls his eyes.) We’ve got something to show you.”
Isabella: “The Fool has about as much ability to predict the future as your horse.”
Gisborne: “How can you be so sure?”
Isabella: “The same way we figured out his little resurrection trick.”
Sheriff: (Holding the lid over an apple on the platter. Pointing at the apple:) “First you see it… (holds the lid over it…) then you don’t… (lifts the lid, pointing…) there it is… (sets the lid down) … and there it isn’t.”
Gisborne: (Impatiently:) “Yeah, what’s your point? (The Sheriff puts both hands on the handle and lifts up the lid. The apple is gone.) How’d you do that?”
Sheriff: (Replaces the lid.) “Mm… You simply pull up on the handle here, the claw grabs hold of the bird, you lift up the lid… (lifts up the lid)… the bird’s gone. (Replaces it. Gisborne frowns, not quite understanding it all yet. Miming as he speaks:) The cooked bird has been hollowed out, you put a live dove inside it and… (waves his hands over it…) la-di-da-di-da, plate full of bird’s wings, hm? Your fool, he’s no sorcerer, he’s no soothsayer! (Tapping the lid emphatically with each stressed syllable:) And he cannot predict the future.”
Gisborne: “He was right about Lardner’s ring, though. (To the door:) Bring ‘em in! Isabella, perhaps you may want to step outside for this…”
Sheriff: “Nonsense Gisborne, this will give your sister a ripe opportunity to see how we deal with those who would dare challenge our authority. My own dear departed sister Davina would’ve appreciated it and I’m sure the same goes for Isabella here. You mustn’t neglect family, Guy.”
Isabella: “Thank you, Vaisey.”
(Gisborne nods and steps aside as Will and the Fool are brought in in shackles with Allan following. Gisborne’s men shove Will and the Fool to their knees before the Sheriff as Allan stands tall behind them.)

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Sherwood Forest. Outlaws’ camp.
(The gang are listening to Djaq’s story.)
Djaq: “Back home, my uncle had a friend, the Sultan’s official pigeon handler. Now, the Sultan’s very best pigeon, the smallest and quickest one, was a pigeon called Lar’d-nar.” (Robin immediately sees the connection.)
Robin: “Right. Right, does he have a ring? And if he does, what’s so special about it?”
Nottingham Castle. Sheriff ’s quarters.
(The Fool is also telling the Sheriff about carrier pigeons.)
Fool: “The Saracens use pigeons to carry messages. They put the message on a little ring tied to the bird’s foot [fluttering his hands like a bird taking off:] and then they let it fly off. (The Sheriff looks in alarm at Gisborne, who returns a similar gaze as the Fool continues.) It doesn’t matter how far away the bird is when you let it go, because it will always find its way home, carrying the message with it.” (Allan listens thoughtfully with his hand to his chin.)
Sherwood Forest. Outlaws’ camp.
Djaq:
“But it isn’t their home they’re searching for, it is their mate. All you have to do is split the two of them up, and a pigeon will carry a message to the ends of the earth faster and straighter than any man ever could, just to be with the one they love.”
Robin: “So we could get a message to King Richard halfway across the world in… in no time at all.”
Djaq: “A matter of days.”
Much: (Chuckles.) “Well, that’s incredible!”
Djaq: “My question is, why is the Sultan’s best pigeon being used by King Richard?”
Robin: (Stands.) “Well, maybe they formed an alliance or something.”
(Leans on the beam over Marian’s head.)
Djaq: “Or maybe King Richard and his army have helped themselves. (Sadly:) If they’ve got Lar’d-nar, they’ve got the Sultan. And if they’ve got the Sultan, they’ve got everyone.”

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(Djaq fears for her family and friends. Marian understands who Lardner is and how important he is, stands and walks over to Robin.)
Marian: “We have to go back to the tree.”
Nottingham Castle. Sheriff ’s quarters.
Allan:
“So that’s what he had in his box, and the only place he could’ve left it’s up that tree!”
Will: “You make me sick, you know that? Betraying your old friends. Well, I hope you’re enjoying it, Allan. I couldn’t live with myself.”
Sheriff: “Oh, well, you won’t have to for much longer, you see. The penalty for being in Robin Hood’s gang… (rears back and kicks Will.) …is death.” (Gisborne smirks at Will.)
Fool: “Right. Well, I’m glad I could have been of service. I think my work here is done. Can I go now?”
Sheriff: “You can go, of course, with him to the gallows. (to Allan:) Hang them both! And feed their carcasses to the birds! Come along, Gisborne, no time to lose.” (The Fool turns to Allan behind him and grabs the key tied to Allan’s belt as he hugs his leg.)
Fool: “No, please, have mercy. Don’t let them do this to me.”
Allan: “Hey!” (Allan pushes the Fool back and, recognising a pickpocket’s art, glances down and notices the key missing, but says nothing. He looks at the Fool with a glint in his eye.)
Fool: “I do comedy. I don’t do tragedy. Please?”
Allan: “Well, seeing you swing will be comedy, won’t it?”
(Allan backslaps the Fool.)
Sheriff: “Very good.”
(The Sheriff, Gisborne and Allan leave. The Fool, keeping his head turned from the slap, shows Will the key in his palm. Isabella, who has been watching and gathering information, notices this also but says nothing as she follows the Sheriff and Gisborne out the door. Will looks back at the door and sees Allan, who turns and gives a knowing look to Will before leaving.)

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Nottingham Castle. Courtyard.
(The Sheriff goes out the main doors. Gisborne and Allan follow to their horses.)
Isabella: “May I join you gentlemen? It sounds like an awful lot of fun.”
Gisborne:
“No. (Catching the Sheriff’s reproachful look.) I mean, we don’t have time to arrange a carriage and speed is of the essence.”
Sheriff: “Besides, there’s no need for all of us to miss the execution – I do love a good hanging, I believe you’ll find it most amusing. (to Gisborne and Allan.) Now if Robin gets the bird, it means the King knows our plans. And the last thing we need is the King and his army coming back to England [mounts his horse by stepping on a soldier.] before we’re ready for them. So… (Gisborne and Allan mount their horses.) … we must catch the pigeon. Catch the pigeon now.” (The Sheriff turns his horse around and follows Gisborne out the gate with Allan behind him as the Jailer is at the gallows, adjusting the knot on a noose watching them go. Five mounted archers follow them out.)
Jailer: “Won’t be long.” (The Fool and Will stand below with their wrists cuffed, guarded by one soldier, who is watching them closely.)
Fool: “You take your time, no rush. (The Fool looks away, then has a thought. Looks at the guard, then back at the Jailer. The guard turns his gaze to the Jailer, just like the Fool wanted.) Do you think that contraption’s strong enough to hold the two of us?”
(With the guard’s attention on the Jailer, the Fool covertly passes the key to Will, who watches the guard as he hides the key in his fist.)
Jailer: “Last a lifetime, that will. (Chuckles.) At least your lifetime. (The guard looks back at Wilt Laughs at his own joke.) I could do your job.”
Will: “I couldn’t do yours.” (Glances with his eyes at the Fool, then the guard. The Jailer takes the Fool up to the gallows. The guard escorts Will.)
Fool: “You know, traditionally, men in your position offer men in our position a last request.”
Jailer: “I don’t hold with tradition.” (The Jailer grabs the noose as the guard positions Will. The Fool steps to face the Jailer.)
Fool: “It’s just a little thing. Would you to scratch my nose. I’ve got an itch.”
Jailer: “Let the Devil scratch it. You’ll see him soon enough.”
Fool: “One last chance, while no-one’s looking, let us go. (Winks.) We’ll say no more about it, yeah? (Winks again. The Jailer groans and puts the noose over the Fool’s head.) I’m a performer! I can’t die without an audience. It’s an insult to my profession. (The Fool stabs the Jailer and Will stabs his guard.) Fine, I’ll do it myself.” (Scratches his nose.)
Isabella: (Observing from the window. Quietly, to herself:) “Oh yes, very amusing indeed.” (She smiles and then turns, walking back inside the castle.)

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Lardner’s tree.
(Robin and Marian walk up to the tree, looking up into its branches. Robin has the rope sheaf slung over his shoulder.)
Robin: “Do you think a bird could fly that distance and still find its way home?”
Marian: “The dove found its way back to Noah’s ark.”
Robin: (Stops, still looking up into the tree.) “How do they do it?”
Marian: “They just follow their hearts.”
(They both look at each other and smile, then look up into the tree. Robin, his bow looped over his shoulder, pulls himself up the tree by the rope, bracing his feet on the trunk. He reaches the first big branch and gets a foothold. Marian stands at the base of the tree, looking up at him, her bow and arrows leaning against it as Robin climbs further to the next conjunction of branches.)
Marian: “Can you see it?”
Robin: (Looks up and spies the cage.) “That’s it, I think.” (Pulls himself higher.)
Marian: “Well… can you reach it?”
Robin: “I’m nearly there!”
(Robin climbs up, gets the cage and puts its cord over his head as below, Marian hears a horse whinny and looks to her left.)
Marian: “Robin! Robin, the Sheriff ’s coming! (Marian puts her bow over her head and tucks her arrows under the bowstring against her as the horsemen approach.) And Gisborne’s with him!”
(Unbeknownst to Robin, Marian climbs up the rope.)
Robin: “Run! Go without me! (Pulls the cage’s cord off over his head.) I’ll hold them off!” (Sets the cage down on the branches. Marian and the rope have disappeared up the tree as Gisborne, the Sheriff and Allan arrive by the grave.)
Allan: “Hang on. Stop. (The horses stop.) Yeah. That’s the tree.”
(Gisborne looks up as the archers catch them up. Up in the tree, Robin aims his bow as Marian quietly comes up behind him and sits next to him. Robin waits for the archer to stop, then shoots him in the shoulder. The archer falls from his horse. Robin shoots at another man, who ducks the arrow. Gisborne, Allan and the archers move to surround the tree as the Sheriff yells up to Robin.)
Sheriff: “You’re surrounded, Hood! You’re going nowhere!”
Gisborne: (to the wounded archer:) “Get back on your horse and get reinforcements.” (The archer mounts his horse. Up in the tree, Marian looks down in alarm. Robin finally notices Marian and sighs, shaking his head, dismayed that she’s here.)

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Robin: “What are you doing here?”
Marian: (Sheepishly:) “Hiding?”
Robin: (Sarcastically:) “Great.” (Looks down at the ground. The Sheriff and Gisborne peer up into the tree, but Robin and Marian are too high up to be seen and well hidden behind the leaves.)
Sheriff: “He could just wait until it’s dark and then release the bird.”
Gisborne: (Confidently:) “They’ll be down before nightfall.”
(Gisborne and the Sheriff exchange glances.)
Sherwood Forest. Outlaws’ camp.
(Djaq is sitting at a stump, writing the message for the King on a small strip of parchment. Little John, sitting at her feet with his staff, and Much, standing nearby, are hying to help.)
Little John: (Stands up.) “Come home.”
Much: (Walking towards the kitchen:) “No, it needs, er, needs more immediacy.”
Little John: “Come home now.”
Much: (Suddenly realising the word just used:) “Come home immediately!”
Little John: “What’s the matter with "now?”
Much: “Immediately”’s better.“
Little John: "Immediately’s longer.”
Much: “What?”
Djaq: “Lardner’s a pigeon, not an eagle. More words, more weight.”
Much: “It’s one word, same as "now!”
Little John: “Well then, use "now.”
Djaq: (Exasperatedly:) “Too many cooks!”

Rings Taken, Euphemisms Abound (pt.2)

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Nottingham Castle. Dungeons.
(The Jailer is leading the Sheriff and Gisborne downstairs to visit the Fool.)
Sheriff: “We know McLellan and the Fool spoke together so something was said about the ring of Lardner.”
Gisborne: “Maybe it’s got some kind of coded inscription on it.”
Sheriff: “No problem. We’ll just torture the Fool until he tells us.”
(They reach the cell and find the door wide open. The Jailer peers incredulously inside, then turns to the Sheriff.)
Jailer: “He’s disappeared.”
(A dove is sitting on one of the iron bars of the door.)
Sheriff: (Whispers:) “Disappeared? (The Sheriff glances back at Gisborne, then back slaps the Jailer.) I know that, you blithering oaf!”
(The Sheriff glowers at Gisborne, then leaves. Gisborne glares at the Jailer, then follows. The dove on the door tilts its head and blinks.)

Locksley. A peasant’s cottage.
(Gisborne bursts into the cottage.)
Gisborne: “Know anyone called Lardner? (The peasant woman shakes her head, holding her young boy’s head close and rocking him in fear.) Have you ever known or heard of anyone…(Gisborne lifts ups her left hand, revealing a pearl ring on her finger….) or anything called Lardner?”
(Gisborne rips the ring off and leaves.)
Locksley.
(Allan addresses a woman walking through the village.)
Allan: “Lardner’s ring? What is it? (The terrified woman shakes her head.) What is it?” (Gisborne’s men bring an old woman forward. Gisborne holds up a ring and walks up and down the line of peasants.)
Gisborne: “Tell us where it is or we will take every ring in this village.” (Gisborne tosses the ring into a bowl on a table behind him,where it clinks against others as Will and Djaq watch from behind a fence.)
Djaq: “Must be some kind of ring tax.”
Will: “Allan’s with them.”
(Allan and the men go around taking rings from every finger as Gisborne slowly walks down the line, watching.)
Old Woman: “Leave me alone! I don’t know anything!”
(Allan tries to pry the ring off her hand, but it won’t come off. He lets go and she waves her hands helplessly. Gisborne storms over.)    
Gisborne: “Right. You’ve had your chance. (Gisborne grabs her hand, holds it up to the villagers and brandishes his curved dagger as she wails and pleads.) Lose the ring or lose the finger. (Gisborne places the old woman’s hand on the table.) Somebody knows where Lardner is.”
(At the mention of the name “Lardner,” Djaq’s mouth widens. She turns to Will.)
Djaq: “Did he say Lar’d-nar?”
Will: “Does that mean something to you?”
Old Woman: “I don’t know anything!”
(Djaq stares at Gisborne with knowing eyes. Allan pulls a conveniently located hourglass from under the table and sets it on top.)
Gisborne: “So, when the sand runs out… (raises his curved dagger) … the finger comes off.”

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Djaq: “Can we risk it?”
Will: “Yeah, we have to. I’ll take them the long way round, lead them away from camp.” (Gisborne raises his knife, and starts to bring it down when Djaq stands up.)
Djaq: “Stop! (Everybody turns to Djaq. Gisborne still has hold of the woman’s wrist.) I know who Lardner is. And I know about his ring.”
Will: (Folds his arms.) “Let the woman go.”
Gisborne: “You’re in Robin Hood’s gang, aren’t you?”
Will: “Let the woman go!”
(Gisborne raises the woman’s arm, then visibly releases it.)
Gisborne: “Now… tell me about Lardner.”
Djaq: “You’ll have to catch us first!”
(Will and Djaq run towards two horses tethered nearby.)
Gisborne: “Get after them!”
(Djaq hurries away on a horse but Will is captured by Gisborne’s men.)
Sherwood Forest. Outlaws’ camp.
Robin:
(Taking off his knife belt:) “Much, when we were in the Holy Land, do you remember anybody called Lardner?”
(Marian hands off the bows and quiver to Little John, then takes off her cloak.)
Much: “No. Why?”
Robin: “Because I have to find him. Where’s, er, where’s Will and Djaq?”
Much: (Pointedly, a bit miffed:) “They said they’ve gone to get some honey.”
(Pushes his sword home.)
Little John: “They’ll be back soon.”
Much: (Tosses his scabbard on the bunk and puts his hands on his hips. Suspiciously:) “If that’s what they’ve gone for. (They all look at him questioningly. Little John folds his arms.) But why does it need two of them, hm? (Raises each index finger up.) "Honey” is one of those things.“
(Marian looks at Robin, puzzled.)

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Robin: (Chuckles.) "What things?”
Much: (Stepping up next to Little John:) “Well, what do you call it when you use a sweet innocent word but what you really mean is something else?”
Little John: “A lie.”
Much: “No.”
Marian: “A euphemism?”
Much: “Euphemism. (Points at Marian.) Exactly. (Looking pointedly at Robin and Marian:) Yes, there’s a bit too much "honey” going on round here, if you ask me. (Marian smiles shyly and Robin laughs silently, looking up. Marian glances at him.) Will and Djaq nipping off together… (crossing in front of Little John:) …you two going for long walks in the forest.“
Little John: (Quietly to Robin:) "He’s jealous.”
Robin: (Nods and raises his eyebrows at Little John, smiling broadly. Mouths:) “Yeah.” (Smiles at Much.)
Much: “What happened to fighting for justice and rebelling against the Sheriff? We should be [swings a fist] sticking together. (Marian stares at Much, not knowing how to reply.) Instead we’re splitting into couples. To be perfectly honest… (Much puts his arm round Little John.) … I don’t fancy mine much. (Marian chuckles.) Anyway, while you two’ve been off gallivanting, we’ve had to, er—”
Robin: (Interrupting:) “We haven’t been "gallivanting.”
Much: “I know what you’ve been up to.”

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Marian: (Seriously:) “We’ve been burying a corpse in the forest.”
(Much looks back and forth between Robin and Marian.)
Much: (to Robin:) “Is that a euphemism?”
(They all laugh uncontrollably until Djaq arrives.)
Djaq: “Robin!”
Robin: “What’s happened?”
Djaq: “It’s Gisborne.” (Much, Little John and Marian gather round.) He’s at Locksley, terrorising the people.” 
Robin: “What?”
Djaq: “He’s searching for Lardner’s ring.”
(Robin and Marian look at each other, amazed and concerned.)

Further on in the forest.
(A riderless horse gallops across the path of the Fool, who is coming down the slope to the road.)
Fool: (Holding his hands up to the horse:) “Whoa, whoa, whoa, there, horsey. This is my lucky day, this is. (Puts his hands on his hips and smiles. Gisborne and company arrive and stop. The Fool’s face falls.) Or it was.”
(Grabs the horse’s bridle and pats its shoulder.)

Birthday Messages

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Locksley Manor. Main room.
(Gisborne’s birthday celebration. Allan enters through the back door, spies Gisborne in the far corner, and meanders through the guests to him.)
Allan: (Irritably:) “Excuse me. (Allan finds Gisborne pouring wine into a goblet.) Guy. There’s a, er, messenger outside with a letter, but he’s insisting he gives it to the lord of the manor in person.”
Gisborne: “Is it from Lady Marian?” (About to take a drink.)
Allan: “No, he’s says it from the King.” (Gisborne realises it’s a message intended for Robin, lowers his cup and stares at Allan.)
Gisborne: “The King?” (Allan nods. Gisborne sets down his goblet and rushes to the main door, Allan in his wake.)
Courtyard.
(Gisborne steps outside, looks around and sees no messenger.)
Gisborne: “So where is he, then?”
Allan: “Well, he was here a minute ago.”
Gisborne’s Man: “He thought Robin was still lord of the manor. Maybe he found out he wasn’t and ran off.”
Gisborne: “And what fool told him that?”
(Behind Gisborne, the top half of a stable door opens, revealing the jester hired for the party.)
Fool: “It’s not a secret, is it?” (Raises his eyebrows.)
Gisborne: “Fool! (to Allan:) Get after him. I want that letter.”


Allan:
“Yeah.” (Turns to leave.)
Fool: “He won’t get far. He’s only on foot. Hah!”
(Gisborne glares at the Fool.)
Allan: “Hey, guards, come on.”
(Allan and two of Gisborne’s men run off as the Sheriff arrives on horseback.)
Sheriff: “Happy birthday, Gisborne.”
Gisborne: ”Thank you, my Lord.”
Sheriff: “I’ve brought you a gift. (Indicates the carriage pulling up behind him. The door swings open and Isabella appears from inside.) She couldn’t bear to miss her big brother’s birthday. (Gisborne glares at him.) Party going well, is it?”
Gisborne: “We’ve got a problem.”

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Sherwood Forest. Outside Locksley.
(McLellan, the King’s messenger, hops on his crutches as fast as he can. He has a cage, a wooden frame with a loose basket weave for sides, slung over his shoulder. Allan, flanked by two of the Sheriff’s men, is following determined to retrieve the King’s message. McLellan loses them temporarily and scales a tree, lodges the cage in the branches above him, then looks down at Allan, who has noticed that the tracks suddenly disappear. As Allan stands under the tree, the wooden leg starts cracking from the weight. Allan hears it and looks up just before McLellan drops to the ground, landing flat on his back. He lies there, unable to move and moaning. Allan and the men go to him.)
Allan: “Give us the message from the King.”
McLellan: “It’s for Robin of Locksley and his eyes only.”
Allan: “Just give it to me or we’ll take it from you.”
Robin: (Flippantly:) “Don’t you know it’s rude to read other people’s mail? (Robin chases off the henchmen and stands with his bow horizontal and two arrows nocked.) So… this is what Gisborne’s dogsbody does, is it?”
Allan: “I’m not his dogsbody. I’m his right-hand man.”
Robin: “Oh. I couldn’t face myself in the morning if I was you.”
Allan: “I count my money in the morning.”
(Marian, in her cloak, steps out from behind a tree with her longbow drawn.)  
Marian: “While you two are squabbling, there’s a man in agony over there.”
Robin: “Run back to your master. Go on.”
(Allan starts running. Robin and Marian lower their bows and rush over to McLellan who has unfortunately died. Robin looks at the folded square of parchment in the messengers hand covered entirely with an enormous red wax seal.)
Robin: “It’s the royal seal. It is from Richard. (Peels the wax off and unfolds the letter. Reading the message. Sighs.) He wants reinforcements. He wants more men. I mean, he still has no idea. He has no idea what’s happening in England!”
Marian: “The message you sent with Carter can’t have reached the King yet.”
Robin: “Well, many a courier get intercepted. I mean, the proof of that’s right here in front of you. (Continues reading the message.) He wants me to send a note back with…(squints at the name…) with Lardner, telling him how many men I can recruit and when I’ll arrive.”
Marian: “Well, you can’t do that now, can you?”
Robin: “But… this… this isn’t Lardner. This… this is McLellan. This is Laurence McLellan.”
Marian: “Well then, who’s Lardner?”
(They look at each other questioningly.)

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Locksley Manor. Main room.
(Gisborne sits with the Sheriff and Isabella at a table while the guests mingle.)
Sheriff:
“So, where are they, Gisborne?”
(The Fool presents a covered tray on the table.)
Gisborne: “They’ll be here.”
Fool: (Lifts the lid off the tray.) “Woodcock, Sir Guy. Birthday treat. (Replaces the lid.) Shall I get started?”
Gisborne: (Irritably:) “If you must.“
(The Fool spins round on his heel with a flourish and steps away.)
Sheriff: "Your men had better get to him before Robin does.”
(The Sheriff turns away and Gisborne takes a drink. The Fool regales the party guests with his take on King Richard much to the delight of the Sheriff.)
Sheriff: “He’s good, very good.”
Fool: “Forget about it! It’s no wonder it’s taking so long over there, is it? (The crowd roar. The Sheriff giggles and claps. Gisborne smiles.) Mind you, mind you… (Steps to Gisborne)… It’s better than his brother, isn’t it? Prince John. (Leans on the table.) The crowd are immediately silent. (The Sheriff scowls.) What’s Prince John doing? (The Sheriff motions to one of Gisborne’s men.) Sitting at home, heart of a dormouse?” (Two of Gisborne’s men grab the Fool.)
Sheriff: “Prince John is a friend of mine.”
Fool: “Oh no he isn’t.”
Sheriff: “Oh yes he bloody well is and he’ll be here in Nottingham very soon!”
(The crowd gasps, Isabella’s eyes light up.)
Isabella: “Will he really?”
Fool: “It’s a joke! It’s what I do! I do other things. Let’s try some soothsaying. One day Prince John will be King of England.”
Sheriff: “I know that already.”
Fool: “But did you know that there’s something in Nottingham that can stop him?”
Sheriff: “Like what?” (The Fool wraps his legs round a post to stop himself.)
Fool: “Lardner’s ring?” (Tilts his head and raises his eyebrows.)
Sheriff: (Perturbed:) “What is Lardner’s ring?”
Fool: “Well, let me go and I’ll tell you." 

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Sheriff: "Lock him in the cell overnight, flog him in the morning and then he’ll tell us! Now that really is funny!”
Allan Enters.
Gisborne:
(Standing up from the table:) “Where is he?”
(He stops in front of the table.)
Allan: “Er…(Distracted by the sight of Isabella.) he’s dead. Izzy…”
Gisborne: (Hastily:) "What about the message?”
Allan: “Oh, well, we got part of it, yeah, but Robin turned up.”
Sheriff: (Stands, roars:) “Turned up?! (Quietly:) And got his message?“
Allan: "I don’t know. Look, he kind of took us by surprise. All we heard him say was "Lardner,” that was it.“
Sheriff: "Lardner… That’s what he said. (at Gisborne:) I blame you for this! You had him on your [throws a goblet at him] doorstep! And you let him [throws another goblet) escape! You and your imbeciles! (Throws a large bowl.) Six legs [throws his plate at him, food flying.) against [throws Gisborne’s plate] one and the one got away! (Isabella, watches all this with much amusement, the Sheriff pulls the lid off the woodcock to throw it next, but the guests all gasp at the sight of a live dove on the tray. The Sheriff stops and looks at the bird, and then it Butters away. Everybody watches it in amazement for a moment, then the Sheriff replaces the lid.) There’s an explanation. There is always a rational explanation.” (Looks at the bird.) 

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Sherwood Forest. Outside Locksley.
(McLellan’s cage, with a faint sound like a pigeon cooing emanating from it, remains lodged in the tree above Marian and Robin, who are taking care of McLellan’s body. Robin stands thinking behind the marker, a rough cross of sticks by the head, as Marian piles rocks over the corpse.)
Robin: “I know I’m meant to be loyal and obedient, but… the King doesn’t know the facts. Once he does, he’ll return home.”
Marian: (Piles on the last rocks.) “And this is no time for you to go back to the Holy Land.”
Robin: “We’re agreed, then.”
Marian: “Absolutely. (Robin nods. Marian stands in the silence and bows her head, waiting for Robin to speak.) Would you like to say a few words? (Robin nods, then is silent for a moment, thinking, looking over the grave. Gently:) Go on, then.”
Robin: (Thinks more with a slightly fearful look. Still staring over the grave:) “Will you marry me?”
Marian: (Looks up at Robin. Quietly, in disbelief:) “What?”
(Chuckles nervously.)
Robin: (Sighs. Glancing at her as he speaks:) “The first time I held my bow… I knew. (Marian stares uncertainly at him, wondering where he’s going with this.) It felt right… like it had been made for me. And that’s how I feel about you. (She smiles, tears in her eyes.) I promised your father I would protect and look after you. But it works both ways. I look after my bow because it protects and looks after me. Together we’re stronger. So…(He steps to face her, sighs and bends down on one knee.) Marian, will you marry me?”
Marian: “Robin, of every single man in the world… you are the only one who would… propose over a fresh grave by comparing me to [chuckling:] your weapon.”
Robin: “Well, is that a no?”
Marian: “Who’ll give me away?”
Robin: “I can ask the King.” (Marian nods. Robin nods, looking up at her expectantly.)
Marian: “So, we find Lardner and bring the King home, defeat the Sheriff… and get married.”
Robin: (Smiles ecstatically, glances to his right, then down and looks at Marian as he stands up.) “Well, that sounds like a plan.”
(Marian steps into Robin’s arms and they kiss a long while, then stare into each other’s eyes.)

Home Sweet Home (pt.6)

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Nottingham Castle. The Great Hall.
(The Sheriff is standing in front of a cupboard under the window, about to get Carter his money. He turns to Carter.)
Sheriff: “Do you know I might have more work for you? You staying in England?”
Carter: “I may return to the Holy Land.”
Sheriff: (Stops. Disappointed, turning to the cupboard:) “Oh. (Turns to Carter.) Not to help King Richard?”
Carter: “I’ve had enough of fighting Saracens. (The Sheriff turns to the cupboard.) I would, however, like to learn more of their tricks. (The Sheriff opens the door as Carter reaches inside his cloak for a small bottle. The Sheriff pulls out a large leather bag, revealing a chest of treasure underneath as Carter speaks.) They’re way ahead of us with potions and remedies. (Carter checks to see that the Sheriff is not watching him, then leans over Robin, pulling his lips open and pouring the antidote into his mouth as he continues speaking.) They make a concoction to reduce the breathing of a man to nothing. He seems to be dead, but is not.” (Stands up, corking the bottle.)
Sheriff: (Stands up, his back still to Carter:) “Fascinating. A clue: no.”
(Bends down and rummages through the cupboard again.)
Carter: (Putting the bottle away:) “And when the same man drinks the opposing concoction, he comes back to life… just like that.”
(Robin blinks, grabs the sides of the stretcher, pulls his legs up and rolls forward to stand on his feet.)
Sheriff: “Really. (Turns around, holding a large leather bag of coins.) Just like what?”
Robin: “Just like this.” (Robin rubs his eyes, then stretches his arms as Carter pulls out his twin swords and steps towards the Sheriff. The Sheriff stares at Robin, then looks at Carter.)
Sheriff: (Chuckles in disbelief:) “Alive? (Realising the ruse:) Oh… (The Sheriff drops the bag on the table, hastily picks up the scroll and looks at the blank parchment, which confirms his suspicions.) Oh really?”
Carter: (Points at the bag.) “I’ll take that money.”
Sheriff: (Quickly grabs back the bag and holds it away from him.) “I’m not paying you now, huh? Now that the (Carter forcibly takes the bag from him.) stiff has stepped off the stretcher!”
(Robin jumps down to the floor, facing the Sheriff.)
Robin: “Kneel.”
Sheriff: “Make me.” (Robin grabs the Sheriff’s shoulders, knees him in the groin and pushes him down.)
Robin: “With pleasure.”
Interior corridor.
(Robin has put on his jacket. He runs up the stairs with the money bag slung over his shoulder and Carter on his heels.)
North exterior corridor.
(Robin and Carter peek around the corner to their right. Robin sees Marian flirting with Gisborne at the other end of the corridor. Gisborne gives her a kiss on the cheek.)
Robin: (to Carter:) “What’s she doing here?”
Carter: “She saved your life.”
(Robin looks again at Marian, who notices Robin watching them intently while letting Gisborne nuzzle her. She pulls back.) 

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Marian: “Guy… I have to go.”
Gisborne: “Go? (Marian nods.) You can’t go.”
Marian: “I can, and I must. Look, this was a mistake.”
Gisborne: “Marian, this wasn’t a mistake. This was the most perfect thing that has ever happened.”
Marian: “I am grieving, Guy. I misled you. I’m sorry. (Turns to go down the corridor.) I’m sorry.” (Gisborne pulls on her arm. She stops, but doesn’t face him, just stares at Robin.)
Gisborne: “You’re misleading yourself. I know. I’ve done it. I told myself I didn’t need you, that other things would satisfy me… politics… power. Yet here we are.”
Marian: “I have to get back… before they realise I’m missing.”
Gisborne: “Back to the convent?”
Marian: “Yes.”
Gisborne: (Laughs.) “Marian, no. (Marian scoffs.) I forbid you to go.” (Marian waits a moment, then calmly and defiantly walks away without looking back.)
Marian: (Whispers as she passes Robin:) “See you back at the camp.”
(Robin watches her go, then looks at Gisborne, who is also watching her go. Gisborne then turns and walks off slowly down the west corridor. The alarm bell starts ringing. In the distance a soldier can be heard shouting.)
Soldier: “Alarm! Alarm!”
Robin: “Well, looks like they’re missing us. (Looks back at Carter.) You ready?”
Soldier: “They’re in the castle! Alarm! They’re in the castle!”
(The shouting continues as Robin and Carter talk.)
Carter: “You sure you don’t want to kill anyone? We’re much more likely to get killed ourselves.”
Robin: “Ahh, come on! We’re much too good for that.”
Carter: (Nods once.) “All right. Let’s find out.”
Robin: (Slaps Carter’s shoulder:) “Come on!”

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Kingsbridge.
(Isabella, having returned to Kingsbridge, has retrieved her clothing from the guest chamber in which they were stored. Smoothing her hands over her dress she stands looking at herself in the mirror as there is a knock on her door.)
Isabella: “Come in.”
(Henry enters the room. He stops to admire her, then catches himself and moves forward.)
Henry: “The Bishop will see you now.”
(Isabella nods and follows Henry out of the room.)
Waleran’s Chamber.
(The Bishop is sat at his desk, writing on a piece of parchment as Henry enters.)
Henry: “Lady Isabella, my Lord.”
(Isabella strides gracefully into the room.)
Waleran: “Ah my dear Isabella. I’m told everything went according to plan?”
Isabella: “Despite a few additions on your part, yes. The deed is done.”
Waleran: “Excellent. I hope my little caveat didn’t cause too much of a problem?”
Isabella: “No, although I will admit it came as a shock at first. But I see your reasoning behind it, makes things much neater. And your man proved invaluable in that matter.”
Waleran: “Good, the Lord’s work is never easy.”
Isabella: (Scoffs:) “Call it what you must, but I had my own reasons for wanting William Hamleigh dead.”
Waleran: “I don’t doubt it. Regardless of your motives, you have the gratitude of all Black Knights.”
Isabella: “Speaking of which, Blamire didn’t say what the plan for the army was?”
Waleran: “I’m sure Vaisey will want to fill you in himself soon enough. (Pausing a moment, considering her:) You are certainly a tremendous ally. The Black Knights’ very own Black Widow.”
Isabella: “Has a nice ring, don’t you think?”
Waleran: “Indeed. Are you sure I can’t convince you to stay awhile?”
Isabella: “Oh, I’m sure. I prefer to be where the action is, with Vaisey.”
Waleran: “Fair enough, I will loan you my carriage for your trip back to Nottingham. And I trust you will not mention my involvement in this matter to anyone? I have a reputation to maintain afterall. (Isabella nods, bows her head in thanks and Waleran, in turn, makes the sign of the cross:) Go with God, my child.”
Internal Corridor.
(Isabella walks briskly down the corridor towards the carriage. Henry catches her up.)
Henry: “Isabella wait.”
Isabella: (Turning towards him:) “Yes?”
Henry: “It’s a shame you must be leaving, we made one heck of a team.”
Isabella: “A team? (Laughs.) That’s rich.”
Henry: “What do you mean?”
Isabella: “I mean that you tucked your tail and ran away when the merest hint of violence was thrown your way. You left me at the whim of a madman and his mother. For all you know I could’ve been brutalised by all of Hamleigh’s men in the time it took you to return.”
Henry: “I told you, I had to speak to my brother, had to get that sleeping powder..”
Isabella: “Spare me your petty excuses. The fact is you left me alone in there.”
(She turns and faces the carriage.)
Henry: “Stay and let me make it up to you.

I can show you the kind of man I am.”  
Isabella: "You belong here, with the plotters and schemers, I belong where the real men are. (She steps up into the carriage, then leans on the door.) Your brother is welcome in Nottingham anytime. (She winks at him, blows him a kiss and slams the carriage door.) Driver, to Nottingham!”

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Sherwood Forest. Near the longstones.
(Carter walks up the hill to Robin. Will checks the saddle on a horse for Carter.)
Carter: "I’d better be off.”
Robin: “Are you sure you don’t want to stay?”
Carter: “I do, but I’m going back to the Holy Land. I want to visit my brother’s grave, say goodbye properly, tell him I’m sorry. Thought I was honouring his memory. (Robin nods.) I thought I could do something useful. Warn King Richard for you.” (Marian quickly approaches behind Robin.)
Robin: (Nods and steps to Carter.) “Thank you. (Robin shakes Carter’s hand and claps him on the shoulder. Carter turns to leave as Marian arrives. Marian sighs, announcing her presence. Amicably to Marian, but watching Carter:) Well, you disobeyed me.”
Marian: (Indignantly, also watching Carter:) “I saved your life!”
(Marian glances at Robin and realises he’s not angry at all.)
Robin: (Scowls, feigning jealously:) “And you kissed Gisborne.”

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Marian: (Amicably, playing along:) “And you tied me up.”
Robin: “And you could have got us all killed.”
Marian: (Immediately, sincerely, looking at Robin:) “I’m sorry. (Faces forward again.) I’m not used to taking orders, but I can learn. I’d like to be part of your gang.”
Robin: (Facing forward:) “And I’m not used to you being in the forest, but… (shrugs…) I’ll team.”
Marian: (Smiles.) “Truce?”
Robin: “Yeah….Maybe. (Robin finally looks at Marian and smiles at her, then hurries over to Carter, who has mounted his horse.) Safe journey, my friend.”
(Carter raises his hand in farewell and rides off. Marian steps up to Robin, who has his arms folded over his chest, watches Carter for a moment, then slips her hand under Robin’s elbow.)
Marian: “Maybe?”
Robin: “Perhaps.” (Marian thinks a moment.)
Marian: (playfully, saucily) “Perhaps a spanking?”
(Robin laughs, unfolds his arms and reaches for her hand. Robin looks down at their hands and chuckles, then watches Carter ride off, his hand clasped in hers, having made their apologies in their own way.)
Robin: “Oh I don’t think that’ll be necessary, this time.”
(Carter stops at the top of the rise and waves one last farewell, which the gang return. Marian smiles and hugs Robin’s arm, watching Carter go.) 

Coup d’état (pt.5)

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Courtyard.
(At the main doors, the halberds part and Gisborne walks out, Allan behind him. Marian sees him and quickly dashes into the stable archway as Little John stops the horse in front of the steps. Gisborne, coming slowly down the steps, only has eyes for Robin. The gang keep their faces turned away from Gisborne, who stops a few steps up.)
Gisborne: (to Carter:) “What’s this?”
Carter: “Robin Hood, as promised.”
Gisborne: (Eyeing Carter’s helpers:) “Dead?”
Carter: “Dead.”
Gisborne: (Scoffs. Frowning, suspiciously:) “Really? (Allan frowns, recognising the cloaked figures and suspecting a hoax. to the guard:) Did you check him?”
Guard: “Yes, Sir Guy.”
Gisborne: “Well, let’s make doubly sure, shall we? (Goes to the side of the cart.) Show me his neck.”
(The guard pulls down Robin’s shirt and scarf, exposing his neck. Gisborne draws his sword and slowly lowers it over Robin’s neck as Will makes a stern face to Much, who is standing closest to Gisborne. Gisborne raises the sword over his head as Much flinches, ready to intervene, but Marian steps in from the stable archway, throwing back her hood.)
Marian: (Loudly:) “Guy!”
(Gisborne stops and looks up, totally surprised.)
Gisborne: “Marian.”
(Marian walks to the opposite side of the cart and looks Robin up and down.)
Marian:
(Calmly, slightly horrified:) “What’s happening here?”
Gisborne: (Lowers his sword.) “Robin Hood. He’s dead.”
Marian: (Indifferently:) “Congratulations. I need to speak with you. (Gisborne rolls his eyes.) In private. Please?” (Gisborne jerks his head towards the castle and walks up the steps. Marian follows.)
Gisborne: (to Carter:) “Carry on.”
(Gisborne goes down the east corridor. Marian stops at the top of the steps and glances back, making sure all is right before continuing to follow him.)

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Hamleigh Manor. Dining Hall.
(Isabella, once again chained and corsetted, serves a large platter of food to the assembled men at the large table.)
William: (Enjoying her discomfort, chidingly:) “Service with a smile remember, Isabella." (Isabella forces a smile onto her face briefly then heads back towards the kitchens.)
Walter: (Grabbing her arm as she passes:) "You and me later, honey. Just like old times.”
(He smacks her hard on the backside, releasing her arm and laughing heartily. Blamire, seated opposite William at the long table watches the exchange.)
Blamire: “So, my Lord, what is our next move?”
William: “Same as ever, Blamire. We keep the peace through strength and fear. We swell our ranks and grow stronger with each village we raid.”
Blamire: “Can we still do that with you as Sheriff?”
William: (Looking at him with a pitying expression:) “Do keep up Blamire. Now that I am to be Sheriff, I have the authority to do whatever I like and soon no one will be able to stop me!”
Walter: “More wine!”
William: “Yes! More wine, more women, more of everything for all of us!”
(The men cheer and laugh and tear into the food before them ravenously.)
The Kitchens.
(Isabella walks back into the kitchens where other serving girls are milling about the place, her expression one of pure misery.)
Walter: (From the Dining Hall.) “More wine!”
(Reaching for a pitcher, she pours some wine into a goblet. Once it is full she picks up the goblet and spits into it, placing it on a serving tray.)
Henry: “No more than he deserves.”
(Isabella spins around, surprised by his voice. Henry steps out of the darkness into the candle light, a bloody gash under his right eye, a parting gift from Regan Hamleigh.)
Isabella: “I thought you had gone. Ran back to your master.”
Henry: “I did leave. I left to meet with my brother, to tell him we had made contact, that everything was on schedule.”
Isabella: “On schedule?! You left me alone with that mad man, you left me to witness.." (Her voice trails away as the horrors of a few hours earlier flash in her minds eye.)
Henry: (Reaching out a hand and turning her face back towards him:) "I’m truly sorry you had to witness that. (He rubs his thumb tenderly against her cheek.) And for any harm that has come to you.”
Isabella: (Nods, seeing that he is sincere:) “What’s our next move?”
Henry: (Smiling, he takes out a small leather bag from his pocket and holds it up:) “I also visited the apothecary on my way here.”

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Nottingham Castle. The Great Hall.
(Carter enters through the lower doors under the balcony, walking slowly. Much and Will follow him in. Four soldiers carry Robin’s stretcher. The Sheriff is sitting in his chair at the end of the long table.)
Sheriff: “Any where on the table will be fine. (The soldiers place the stretcher on the end nearest them. The Sheriff leans forward and stares at Robin. The soldiers leave, and Much and Will step forward to stand facing Robin’s right side, and Carter the left. Much glares at Carter from under his hood, not trusting him an inch. Letting out his breath:) Whoo! (to Much and Will, but still staring at Robin:) Exeunt. (Much and Will exchange glances. The Sheriff has eyes for nobody but Robin.) Means "get out.”
Carter: “They’re with me.”
Sheriff: “Er, not any more.” (Chuckles slightly.)
Carter: (to Much and Will:) “Wait for me outside. I will pay you then.”
(Much reluctantly obeys, and he and Will turn to face the Sheriff and bow their heads. The Sheriff watches them, pleased with the deference, then turns to Carter with a slight smile. Much and Will walk out the door and the soldiers close it behind them.)
Sheriff: “We have bad days. (Whispers:) We have good days. And… when we have Robin Hood laid out dead on our table… (yells in Robin’s face:) …we have the best days of our lives! (Robin doesn’t flinch. Satisfied, the Sheriff looks at Carter and chuckles.) The… erm… (whispers:) …the Great Pact of Nottingham? (The Sheriff looks down in delight at Robin as Carter reaches inside his cloak and pulls out a fringed roll of parchment. Pointing at Robin:) Do you know what I’m going to do with him now?”
Carter: “That’s not my concern, my lord. My work here is done.”
Sheriff: (Smiles.) “Yes. (Chuckles and takes the parchment.) Is that a subtle hint that you’d, er, like to be paid?”
Carter: “I believe I’ve fulfilled my contract.”
Sheriff: “Oh. (Glances at Robin.) Yes, I believe you have.”

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Nottingham Castle. An empty room.
(Gisborne closes the door. Marian is standing across the room from him.)
Gisborne: “I received your letter. I was about to come and visit you.”
Marian: “I asked to be left alone and still you were coming to see me?”
Gisborne: “You knew I would.”
Marian: “Yes. And that’s why I came. To ask you to please leave me be.”
Gisborne: (Scoffs and steps towards her.) “Marian… you seriously expect me to believe that you have given yourself to God?”
Marian: (Scoffs.) “Trust me. I haven’t "given” myself to any man. Not yet.“ (Marian turns away and Gisborne grabs her arm.)
Gisborne: "Good. Because until you do, I will always believe that there is a chance for you and me.”
Marian: “I need to think.” (Turns away.)
Gisborne: “Stop thinking. (Marian scoffs.) Come home to me!”
Marian: (Faces Gisborne.) “You burned my home to the ground!”
Gisborne: (Turns and walks away a couple steps. With emotion:) “Marian, if I could take that back… if I could show you the side to me that wants to build a home, not burn it down.”
Marian: “I’ve seen it.”

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Gisborne: “Then why do you reject it?”
Marian: (Slowly, clearly:) “My father is dead. I need time to grieve.”
Gisborne: (Stepping to her:) “What better way to grieve than to create new life? (Grabs her shoulders.) Marian. I thought that I might never see you again. I thought I might never…”
Marian: “What?”
Gisborne: (Sighs passionately.) “Kiss you.”
(Gisborne starts to lean in for a kiss, but the door opens and Allan steps in.)
Allan: “Oh, sorry. Er, Sheriff wants you. He’s gonna put Robin’s head on a spike.” (Gisborne walks out quickly and Marian follows. He stops and turns to her at the door.)
Gisborne: “We must continue this conversation soon.” (Behind Gisborne, Marian sees Will and Much being escorted outside. Much fervently shakes his head at her. Gisborne turns to leave, but Marian pulls him back.)
Marian: “Guy!”
(Marian pulls him into a kiss and he passionately hugs her close, but she’s watching, waiting for Much and Will to disappear. Allan raises his eyebrows at her, wondering what’s she’s playing at.)

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Hamleigh Manor. Dining Hall.
(The previously raucous celebrations have been replaced by the loud snores of Hamleigh’s commanders. Blamire silently rises from his chair and walks stealthily towards Walter, Hamleigh’s right hand man and the biggest man in the room. Drawing his dagger he pauses momentarily, readying himself. As he leans in to dispatch the man, Walter’s hand covers his own on the dagger. The two struggle over the weapon but, given Blamire’s standing position, the advantage is his.)
Walter: (Gasping as the blade slides into his neck:) “Traitor!”
Blamire: (Whispering:) “Not true. I never served you to begin with.”
(Walter’s eyes widen as Blamire sinks the dagger in to the hilt. There is a gurgling sound and then silence. Withdrawing the blade, Blamire moves quickly around the table, slitting every last man’s throat. Any man who could have conceivably taken charge of the vast army now lies dead across the large dining table. Catching his breath, Blamire casually cleans the blood off his dagger and resheathes it. Looking around the room at the carnage before him, he sighs and then resignedly turns his attention towards the head of the table. Sat sleeping, without a care in the world, is the last man left to kill. Blamire prepares himself and then walks toward William Hamleigh.)

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(He stands watching his sleeping commander for a moment then callously lands a boot against his chest, sending him backwards in his chair to land with a crash on the floor.)
William: (Shaken, disoriented:) “What, what’s going on? (Blamire draws his sword, pointing it in Hamleigh’s face.) What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
Blamire: “Taking command.”
William: (Sneering:) “You? My men will never take orders from the likes of you.”
Blamire: “Your lieutenants and sergeants wouldn’t have no, but I have the loyalty of the men. And, (Motioning with his arm to indicate the murdered men scattered around the dining hall.) as you can see, your officers no longer have a vote.”
William: “You will not get away with this!”
Blamire: “I already have. Goodbye William.”
(Blamire raises his sword ready to strike.)
Isabella: (Running in from the kitchens:) “Wait!”
(Blamire stops and looks at her as does Hamleigh.)
Blamire: “I have my orders, this man must die.”
Isabella: “I am aware of what must be done, Blamire. But it will not be you who does it. (Blamire frowns for a moment, then acquiesces, keeping his sword trained on William. Isabella walks slowly around the pair until she is stood directly above Hamleigh.) For too long you have ruined people’s lives. Good people, honest, decent men all for your quest for glory.”
William: “I kept the peasants in their places, I kept order when there was only chaos!”
Isabella: “You raped Aliena of Shiring and convinced Prince John to have her father executed all because she wouldn’t love you.”
William: “She had it coming. She and Bartholomew were loyal to Richard-”
Isabella: (Continuing as if he hadn’t spoken:) “Your actions shamed Edward of Knighton for the rest of his life. He never forgave himself for abandoning his friends when they needed him most.”
William: (Defiantly:) “I showed him who he really was, I’m not to blame for the man being a coward.”
Isabella: “Then who is to blame for your actions? Your mother? You dealt with her handily enough didn’t you?”
William: “My mother is kneeling before God in her rightful place in Heaven.”
Isabella: “She’s burning in the fires of Hell and you put her there.”
William: (Raging, attempting to lash out at her but Blamire’s blade keeps him in place.) “You know nothing! What is this anyway? You won’t kill me, couldn’t even kill your husband, a man who abused you for years.”
Isabella: “Oh but I did kill him. I stabbed him through his black heart and watched him die.”
(She holds out her hand and Blamire hands her his sword.)
William: (Eyes wide, pleading for his life:) “Please! I don’t want to die!”
Blamire: “Pathetic. You’re just a scared little boy, Hamleigh.”
Isabella: (Raising the sword high above her head:) “Let’s send you back to your mother.”
(Isabella plunges the sword deep into Hamleigh’s chest. Blood pours from the wound as William looks up at her in anguish.)
William: (Turning his head, eyes seeing nothing:) “Mother.” (He dies.)
Isabella: (Bowing her head and closing her eyes:) “Rest easy, Edward.”