Prologue:

"Hold it up a little higher, sweetheart."

The little girl, with a crown of red-brown hair and snapping golden-brown eyes, raised her bow a little farther up into the air. Her father instructed her to let the arrow fly, and she let go of the string, watching the dart sail through the air to land, quivering, in a bale of straw. A triumphant smile grew on her face, and she turned to see her father's reaction.

"Perfect," the man said.

His shaggy dark brown hair didn't quite come to his shoulders, and his eyes were golden-brown, like his daughter's. He wore a baggy brown tunic and breeches, with a quiver full of arrows slung across his back.

"She shoots as well as you do, Robin," joked a Moorish man with a long broadsword.

"She will."

"Oh, believe me, I know she will. With you as her father? She'll be able to outshoot you by the time she is sixteen, Robin of the Hood."

Robin turned to his daughter, "Once more, Falcon?"

The girl lifted her bow, knocked an arrow, aimed, and let it fly.

The Muslim applauded as the arrow dug deep into the straw just inches away from the first one.

"Azeem, do you shoot?" Falcon asked.

"Oh, no, little one. That's your father's place. I can, however, win against him using a sword."

"Says he," Robin laughed. "But we do not yet know if it is indeed true. We have never fought against each other, my girl. Only with each other."

"Robin!" The roar split through the air, and both Robin and Azeem looked up.

"That's Little John," Robin mumbled.

"I wonder what's wrong?"

"Robin! Robin, there are…are men…" A boy, older than Falcon, dashed through the undergrowth, panting.

"What is it, Wulf?" Robin asked.

"Men! They're looking for you!"

"Why?"

"Because they want to kill you, why else?" Azeem said dryly.

Robin shot him a look, and turned back to Wulf. "Is this true? Do they come to see if they can take me?"

"Well, they sure aren't coming to negotiate!" Wulf exclaimed.

"Who are they?" Azeem asked while sliding his broadsword out of its sheath.

"Sir Guy of Gisborne's son!"

"He had a son?" Azeem looked at Wulf as if he was crazy.

"He didn't know it. It was the result of one of the wenches he bedded." Wulf had a sour look on his face.

Robin glanced at Falcon, who was watching. "Hold your tongue, Wulf," he growled.

"Sorry, Robin."

A bugle sounded in the forest, too close for comfort, and a giant man slipped out of the trees. He had a dark hair that went all the way around his face, giving him a slightly wild, caveman look.

"Robin, what do you want to do?" he asked, taking his bow from where it was slung across his back.

"Be ready, but don't attack first. Let them explain themselves." Robin glanced over at his daughter. "Falcon, go back to the fort."

The fiery girl didn't move.

"Now! Get out of here, Falcon!" Robin growled.

Azeem looked down into her determined eyes. "Go on, girl," he said quietly. "He'll be fine."

Falcon took a few steps away, then looked over her shoulder at the men. No one was watching her, and she quietly slipped into the foliage and knelt down to watch. No one saw her. No one but Wulf.

The band of men came, and Falcon leaned closer. Azeem had his broadsword casually in his hand, and Robin was leaning on his bow, playing with the feathers on an arrow in his other hand. Little John already had an arrow knocked in his bow, but didn't have it aimed at anything. A few other men had come out of the brush, including Robin's half brother, Will Scarlet, Hal, Bull, and Much the Miller's son. When the soldiers arrived, Robin smiled slightly, stepping forward.

"Ah, Robin Hood. What a pleasure to finally meet the man who murdered my father."

"What a pleasure to meet the son of Guy of Gisborne. If you would show your face, I would be even more pleased."

A man stepped down from the carriage that had arrived with them. He wore a white felt mask, and a frown.

Little John's hand tightened on the bow.

"Dear Robin. I am about to show you the results of toiling with my family."

"You know, you seem to be just like your father. He was egotistical in thinking he could defeat me also."

The man in the mask smiled tightly.

"Your name, sir? Before I kill you?" Robin asked.

"Lord Brexley. Of Gisborne."

"Lord? My my."

"Now," Brexley leapt at Robin, drawing his sword. Robin side stepped and raised his bow.

The rest of the soldiers gave a cry and ran at Robin's men. Azeem took two of them down with one sweep of the massive sword. Little John roared and shot down one of the soldiers, hitting another on the back of the head. The soldier fell with a thump, a bloody lump already coming up on his head. Will swung a sword he had taken from one of the fallen soldiers, and jumped nimbly back when a soldier to the other side of him tried to thrust his own sword into Will's midsection. Bull and Much used their bows as weapons, not taking the time to shoot any arrows and instead just swing madly with the heavy wooden bows. Hal stumbled back into the forest, wounded.

Robin had shot Brexley in the shoulder, and then another knight had taken his attention as Brexley raced away.

Falcon leaned farther out, and Wulf yanked her back. She nearly screamed, if not for his hand clasped over her mouth.

"You stupid girl!" he hissed in her ear.

She tore away from him. "Shut up, Wulf!"

"You aren't supposed to be here!"

Falcon glared at him, then turned back around to watch the battle. The knights were all retreating, and Robin's men let them go. Brexley was nowhere to be seen. Robin and Azeem watched the soldiers flee.

"I doubt they will be coming back," Robin said. "Good job, men."

Little John clapped him on the shoulder and acclaimed the men, also. Slowly, they all left, back to eating or drinking or working. Azeem stepped into the forest, to make sure the soldiers were truly gone. Robin went with him.

"See, Wulf. I didn't get caught," Falcon laughed.

"I don't care about you getting caught! You could have died!"

"But I didn't, so it's a moot point anyway."

Deep in the forest, Azeem yelled out.

"Azeem!" Robin shouted.

Falcon leapt up and ran toward the sound, Wulf cursing and sprinting after her.

They each slid into the ruckus at the same time. A stray knight had dug a dagger into Azeem's back, and Robin was fighting with him. Brexley stepped out, and punched Robin in the face. He fell to the ground, unconscious.

Brexley ran Robin through with his sword, saying, "That's for my father."

"Daddy!" Falcon screamed, Wulf not covering her mouth in time.

Brexley turned to her, and used his chin to gesture towards her. "Get her," he snarled.

"Run, Falcon!" Wulf yelled, thrusting her away.

She ran. Wulf stayed and knocked an arrow, shooting the soldier, then aiming for Brexley. But the man with the mask was gone.

He reappeared at Falcon's side, grabbing her. She shrieked, kicking at him.

"Hold still, damn it!"

"Let go of me!"

Wulf swore, and chased after them. Brexley threw her into his carriage, so hard that she slid across the wood floor to the other side, whacking her head on the wall.

"Go!" Brexley commanded the driver, who whipped the horses into a mad gallop.

The horses took an abrupt turn, causing the carriage to whip onto its side, sliding along on only two wheels. Falcon screamed until the carriage righted itself.

"Wulf!" she shouted. "Wulf! Help! Wulf!"

She cried his name until there was no possible way he could hear her anymore. Then, she tucked herself into a corner of the carriage, sobbing quietly.

"I'm sorry, Wulf. I should have listened. I'm so so sorry."

Brexley glared at her, "Shut up, wench."

She looked up at him, and spat, hitting him directly in the face.

"Bastard," she snarled.

Brexley just smiled, wiping the spit off his face with a sleeve.