The deer had been right in front of me by about twenty feet, in plain view, with no visible obstructions. It was just a straight shot from where I stood, my bow notched and ready to shoot. Yet I missed. A long string of damnations passed my lips as my dinner darted into the trees out of sight. I could still see blurs of it running but I let it go, moving targets weren't my forte. Sighing, I sat down at the base of a large moss-covered tree, setting my bow and quiver down next to me.
It was illegal, hunting deer where they were bountiful on our overlord's land. The few that wandered into Sherwood were usually slow and stupid therefore easy to kill for several meals to come. As it was, it seemed potato soup was for dinner again. I hated potatoes.
A loud cheer rang through the woods, startling me out of my moping. Who else could be shirking their duties at home to wander in these woods? I wondered. Looking through the trees I could barely make out a group of a few people moving and talking very loudly not too far from where I sat. Most of their conversation was garbled but I did catch a few key words: Robin, fire, and deer.
I stood up sharply from where I sat, curious but very annoyed. If those men had managed to shoot that mangy deer I had chased all over the wood for the past morning (which was probably the case, there weren't many deer to shoot in Sherwood) I wanted to know who they were. Not many men in these parts bothered with hunting, game was poor in quantity and our meager spits of land were for some reason constantly needing attention. I slung my quiver over my shoulder and, with bow in hand, ran off after them, careful not to step in the patches of nettles sprinkled everywhere. The band wasn't hard to follow, what with the noise they were making.
They disappeared from my line of sight down a slope leading down into a small valley. I scrambled after them, tripping over a few hidden roots and slipping on decaying leaves. When I reached the edge of the slope and looked down into the gully I was dumbfounded. An entire camp of people were living out in the middle of the woods, makeshift tents and shelters scattered the ground and a large fire pit was in the center, where the men were headed. Why were they living out here in the middle of Sherwood Forest? The answer came to me almost instantaneously: Outlaws.
I no longer cared about the deer I had lost to those men or who they were; I had to get back into town. The sheriff offered a handsome reward to those who could turn in outlaws and bandits; enough feed my family for weeks without touching potatoes. I turned quickly to run home when I slipped and fell on my hands and knees, my bow knocked out of my grasp. I heard someone laugh, not far from where I fell. When I looked up, I was looking into the face of a grinning man, his hands crossed over his chest.
"So," he drawled, laughter in his tone, "you think we're going to let you give away our hiding place so quickly?"