Happy Valentine’s Day to my amazing Secret Valentine, @starscythe!!! I do hope you enjoy this gift, my friend, as you gift us with so many incredible manips all year long. Meeting you in person in November was such a joy, and I hope we can hug in person again in the near future.
Without further adieu, here is your @oqcelebration valentine. :D
He’s heard stories, of course, broken whispers whenever a fierce storm blew in unexpectedly, mumbled musings if an acquaintance suddenly fell ill. These are never voiced loudly, as superstition’s lingering hold on the forest proves to be an ominous task master, leaving such wonderings to drift from one listener to the next, more often than not finding fertile ground stripped bare by black magic’s lingering touch.
The Evil Queen’s dark curse had taken many, but there are those among the forest’s remnants who believe she herself still dwells in this realm. They speak of her in hushed fragments, discuss sightings of a dark, solitary figure who roams the forest at night, a cloaked woman who has somehow lost her magic but now lives bound to it, perhaps in just retribution for a curse so foul it emptied their lands and cast both friend and foe into fates unknown.
Robin has never put much stock into superstition, neither does he give credence to legends or fairy lore. His is a world defined by what he can see, touch and confiscate, a world in which people rarely fit into molds of “good” or “evil”, a world in which he’s observed unspeakable acts committed by the most respected of citizens while those judged as lesser are the very ones who offer shelter and food to the starving. He lives by his wits and senses and surrounds himself with a thieving group of outcasts he’d readily give his life to protect.
Yet even he, the infamous Robin Hood, has to admit that the air feels odd tonight, that there is a charge to the impending storm brewing in the eastern highlands that makes the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. He senses a disturbance, one that feels altogether too personal and close at hand for comfort. Roland must have felt it, too, for the boy had clung to him as Robin soothed his son’s whimpers until he’d finally fallen into a fitful sleep.
It is enough for him to grudgingly admit that tinges of magic probably remain in his forest, even if the queen is nowhere to be found. Dreams of Marian and of his mother plague his sleep and fill him with sense of urgency altogether foreign, one that pushes him towards consciousness even as his body rebels.
A loud clap of thunder finally awakens him, and he’s surprised to find that he’s drenched in sweat. Roland is still sleeping soundly, but one touch to his son’s forehead reveals that the boy is hot with fever. He holds his child close, drawing the blankets up around him, but he worries as all parents do, even as the wind howls just outside their tent.
Roland needs feverfew tea. Unfortunately, their stashes of medicinal herbs have run dry in light of the recent bout of sickness that have ravaged both his men and their families, and he lies there only minutes before deciding to risk a trip to the lake’s edge to gather what he needs. He wakes Little John and asks his friend to keep an ear and eye out for his son before donning his thickest cloak and disappearing into the forest’s canopy. He’s survived far worse storms than this, he reminds himself, ignoring the tingling sensations skittering up his legs that feel altogether supernatural.