SAMHAIN IN SHERWOOD
Copyright: Laura Strickland
How many nights has
she made this journey in her mind? Wishing, hoping, praying she might
escape the restraints that tether her, and find her way back.
For there is and could ever be only one man who possesses her heart, and he is dead.
on this night, this one, blessed sabbat on the wheel of the year, the
door between the living and the dead stands open and passage may be made
from this world to the next, and back. For this one night, she might
hope to hold him again.
She bursts into a clearing amid the
trees, an ancient place steeped in old magic, and beholds the figure
awaiting her. Beneath the full moon, wrapped in tendrils of mist, he
appears first a man, and then a stag standing upright, bearing a full
rack of antlers. Without hesitation she throws herself at his feet.
“Please, my Lord, I beg thee grant me one wish. I have surely earned it in grief and pain, and loneliness.”
“Ask, child, for what you will.” His reply comes up through the soil, surges through the trees and dances in the air.
“Let me but be with him again this night.”
“Name the one you seek.”
“Robin.” She barely dares breathe the name.
And the god replies, “Arise, Marian.”
comes to her feet eagerly, her heart nearly bursting, and hears a
beloved voice call her, like an echo of the god. “Marian.”
and there he stands! Hale and strong and whole as he was before he
fell, slaughtered by his Norman enemies—beautiful to her eyes. Every
longing she has known these many years since his death finds answer as
she stumbles forward into his arms.
“How long have we?” she asks,
even as her lips reach for his. The spell of Samhain, as she knows, is
fleeting and he might fade with the moonlight.
His only reply comes in silence as he draws her down onto a bed of moss and loves her full well.
not go from me,” she begs then. “Too many nights have I lain in my bed
at the nunnery, longing for you. I would not have this end.”
“Aye, Marian, and what would you give to be with me not just this one night, but always?”
She looks into his beloved face and replies, “Anything.”
He brushes his lips across hers, making her quiver with delight.
she says, “I understand the bargain Samhain offers: for but a few short
hours on this night are the dead allowed back across the threshold. Is
it not so?” He, who has dwelt in death so long, will know.
“Aye, love, it is so.”
“How long have we?” she asks again, her heart breaking.
he says, “Before the cock crows I must turn back for the spirit world
from whence I came. Only those likewise in spirit may come with me to
the land on the other side.”
She wonders, then, whether she might have been better without this one night’s joy, for the grief of losing him all over again.
He asks her once more, “What would you give to come with me? Would you give your life?”
I could so choose.” But she knows she cannot. All these lonely years
without him have not brought her that choice, nor all her prayers and
But he leans close and whispers, “My love, you can.”
heart leaps. More than anything she wants to believe him. She plumbs
the mysteries in his eyes and begs, “How? By renouncing the world? By
sacrificing all else? Only tell me, Robin, and it is done.”
so difficult.” He captures her face between his hands and studies her
kindly. “Do you not wonder why you were able to find me this night, of
all those Samhain nights since my death? Why the moonlight guided you,
the god awaited you, and the portal stood open?”
“So it does stand, on Samhain Eve.”
and for the dead more than for the living.” Very gently he says,
“’Twas not in flesh you came to me this night, Marian. My love, your
body lies still in your cell at the nunnery, where death found you not
three hours ago.”
“Dead!” The terrible wonder of it suffuses
her. For an instant, she misses her life as once she missed him: bright
mornings kissed by a brisk wind, flowers and children’s laughter, and
the smell of new bread baking. But without him her existence is but a
long, terrible dream, for all her passion lies here with this man.
lifts her fingers to his lips and his love wraps around her. “And so,
Marian, will you bid farewell to the world and follow me?”
gives him the last answer she ever will, her only answer. “Robin, my
love, I never stopped following you.” And gladly, joyfully, she steps
over the threshold with him, into eternity.
The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Click Here To Purchase The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy