Chapter 6: The Earl of Sherwood Forest
25 August 1188, Sherwood Forest
Forcing himself to redirect his thoughts away from Marian’s perilous circumstances, Robin returned to his scrutiny of Gisborne’s weapon. He frowned at the sword and mumbled, “Interesting.”
“What is it, Lord Robin?” inquired Much.
Robin revealed, “This sword is quite distinctive.”
Will leaned closer for a better view. “It looks like any other sword, except for all those marks on the blade.”
Robin inspected the extravagant weapon as he described it. “This is an excellent sword, equal to the one I carry. It’s unlikely that a landless knight like Gisborne would own such a weapon, although sometimes a wealthy noble will award a superior sword to his favorite squire on the occasion of his knighthood, especially if the knight will be tasked with guarding the lord.”
Much felt confused. “Gisborne is Argentan’s captain; he was probably his squire too. Why does the quality of this sword surprise you?”
Robin countered, “Much, do you remember the Barony of Argentan from our travels through Normandy?” At the quick shake of Much’s head, he disclosed, “Well, I remember it. Argentan is not prosperous; it is small and insignificant. I wonder how Baron de Argentan could afford to give such an expensive weapon to his captain.”
Rising, the three men strolled to a nearby spot brightened by a shaft of light, and Robin held the blade where the sun’s rays could illuminate its elaborate designs. He continued to study it as Will and Much watched.
Much commented, “Those marks look like letters.”
An amazed Will stared at Much. “You can read?”
Much’s ruddy complexion darkened slightly in self-consciousness. “I can read a little. I was allowed to listen to Lord Robin’s lessons, and his tutor kindly taught me many things.”
Robin pointed to the elegant etching on the blade. “Notice these two lions – I saw something similar on Argentan’s ring. Above the lions is a rising sun, and below them is a peculiar inscription.”
Much squinted at the blade and grumbled in frustration. “I know my reading is not as well-practiced as yours, but I cannot decipher any of those words.”
Robin smiled affectionately at his friend. “Be at ease, Much. It is not English; it is written in Latin. I’ve seen this style of inscribed sword in the past, but typically they are engraved with prayers, such as ‘In the Name of the Father.’”
“Do you know what it says?” asked Will.
Robin replied, “I can translate it, even though the letters are crowded together. It says, ‘From Shadows to Glory: I am Immortal, and My Kingdom Awaits.’” He harrumphed grimly, flustered by the unexpected phrase. He lowered the sword from the patch of sunlight as he became lost in his thoughts.
Robin blew out an exasperated breath. “Argentan mentioned shadows, but he was speaking in riddles. I must think on this more. For now, I will keep this sword; I want Gisborne to know that I have it.”
Following Much and Will back to the campfire, Robin plotted Marian’s rescue.