Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Have a sneak peek between the pages of Cabbages & Kings by Morgan Sheppard #HistoricalFiction #RobinHood #TheCoffeePotBookClub @MorganJSheppard @cathiedunn

Cabbages & Kings

by Morgan Sheppard

Hero. Honourable Thief.  Lovable Rogue. Scoundrel. Blackguard. 

Everyone’s heard of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, with big, bad Sheriff of Nottingham and evil Prince John trying their best to thwart Robin at every turn. But what if things were different to what you’ve been told? What if Robin wasn’t as altruistic as history portrayed?

In the late spring of 1198, the hamlet of Girton is razed to the ground. Newly married eighteen-year-old Will Scathlock and sixteen-year-old Alana move to the larger village of Blidworth to start their lives anew. In his new job as a forester for the Royal Palace of Clipstone, known to the locals as King’s Houses, Will hears tales of a good thief, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But in her role as Seamstress for the Manor House, Alana hears a different story.

Find out what it was like for the peasant folk Robin was supposed to be helping, before his well-known adventures in Nottingham. Meet Alana Dale and read her story of what it was really like, and how it all began.

“Halt! Who goes there?”
Alana jumped as a body sprang into the path before them, holding a longbow with an arrow notched ready to shoot. “What the…?”
“Hush, Alana,” warned Will. “We’ll be okay.”
She shot him a glance and grimaced, knowing as well as he that he couldn’t promise that.
Another figure sauntered onto the path, his head covered with cowl, his face hidden by the shadow it cast.
“Now, who do we have here, Guy?” He came closer to Will and Alana, but Alana still couldn’t see his face.
“I don’t know, Robin. I was just getting to that.” The other man, Guy, shifted his position and lowered the longbow now Robin was closer to them.
“Who might you be then? And what are you doing walking through my forest?”
“Your forest?” asked Alana. “’Tis is a public path so far as I know. Who are you to say different?”
“Alana,” Will said, squeezing her waist.
“So, Alana is one. Who are you?” he asked, looking Will up and down. “You look like a good fighter. Maybe you’ll be wanting to join us… if you can pass the test, a’course.”
Will shook his head. “Thank you, I’m sure, but we’re just passing through.”
“Not many turn you down, Robin,” said Guy, moving closer to them.
“Truly spoken, Guy.” The man named Robin looked at them both and, no matter how she tried, Alana couldn’t see past the shadow to see his face. “So, you don’t want to join us, and I’ve yet to hear your name. ‘Tis a fine to-do.”
“My name is Will,” he said stiffly. “Can we go now?”
“Ha-ha, I’m sure you’d be keen to do that,” Robin laughed. “Unfortunately for you, I like your company. How about you come and spend some time by my fire?”
“We need to be going,” said Will, trying to move.
“Ah ah,” admonished Robin, wagging his finger. “You’ll join me at my fire for a bite to eat, and then we can discuss your toll.” He led them a little way off the path to where a fire burned brightly within a hole in the ground, surrounded by stones. “Take a seat.” Robin waved his hand around grandly.
Will and Alana shared a fallen log and watched Robin carefully. He crouched by the fire and poked it with a stick. “The trouble is, as I see it, is you’re here, in my forest, and you haven’t paid the toll.”
“There is no toll,” interrupted Alana, crossly.
“Ah, you see, that’s where you’re wrong. I say there is, and I have the men to back me up. We have our own little kingdom here within the forest, and I am king.”
Alana watched him poke the stick into the fire some more and waited for him to continue.
“Here,” he said, handing them both a leaf with nuts, berries, and edible mushrooms on it. “Eat this.”
Alana sniffed the mushrooms doubtfully, only eating one when Robin bit one in half and offered the other half to her.
“Suspicious little creature, aren’t you?” he murmured.
They ate in silence and Robin watched them, or at least, Alana thought he watched them. His eyes were still hidden by the cowl, but he was facing their direction as he chewed slowly.
Once they had finished eating, Robin gathered the leaves and threw them on the fire. “Now, you’ve come through my woods and eaten my food. The least you can do is pay your way. If you’ve been honest with me, I’ll take just ten per cent. If you’ve lied to me, I’ll take the lot.”
He glanced at Guy who crouched a short distance away from them. Guy swallowed his mouthful of food and nodded to Robin. “Sounds fair to me, Robin.” He moved on silent feet to stand near Will.
“We have nothing apart from a few pennies and what we carry,” Will said, looking from Robin to Guy. “You’re welcome to search me if you don’t believe it.”
Robin slowly stood up and gestured for Will to rise. “Okay, then, since you offered so nicely. Why don’t you empty your pockets and pouches, and we’ll take a look.”
Robin was silent as he watched Will and Alana empty their pockets. He went through the small bags that had been gifted to them by Edmund and Beatrice. He held up Will’s strike-a-light and the wooden spoons. “Is this it? Good Lord, you weren’t lying to me. Where do you hail from? Lincoln, I’m guessing.”
Alana started putting their items back in the bags. “No, we were from Girton originally. We’ve come from Lincoln because we were visiting family.”
“Girton?” Robin stroked his chin, a well-trimmed blond goatee coming to a sharp point that he tugged, the only part of his face visible. “Can’t say as I’ve heard of it.”
“You won’t do now; it was razed.” Alana swallowed against the dryness in her throat. Maybe it would be easier one day.
“Hmm.” Robin looked at them before he snatched up a wooden needle and a spool of thread before Alana could put them away. “This will be my toll. I’ll take these.”
“I need those,” Alana protested.
“I could take it all.” Robin laughed harshly when Alana went silent. “Or I could take you. You’d made a fine lady for the king of the woods.” Guy caught hold of Will’s arms and held them tightly behind Will’s back as he struggled to protect Alana.
Robin noted the look of distaste on Alana’s face and threw the spool of thread into the air, catching it deftly. “Thought so. Well, it’s been fun. We’ll take our leave now. Take care through these woods. There are bandits about, don’t you know.” With a sweeping bow, Robin and Guy ran away, quickly blending into the trees as they disappeared from sight.
“My needle,” said Alana, putting her hands on her hips. “That scoundrel.” Her face twisted into a scowl and her eyes flashed with indignant fire.
“Come now, sweeting,” said Will, scooping up the last of their items from the forest floor. He cast wary eyes about them. “Let’s be off. I don’t fancy staying here much longer. Who knows if he’ll come back, especially as he seems to have taken a shine to you.”

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Morgan Sheppard

Originally from the United Kingdom, Morgan Sheppard now resides in Germany, although she freely admits to having left part of her heart in Wales.   Whilst a writer mainly in the fantasy genre, Morgan is more than happy to share her love of reading amongst the many different genres out there, and can always be found with a book close by.

As well as reading and writing, Morgan spends her time looking after her family and trying to learn German. Unfortunately, a natural aptitude for languages doesn’t appear to be one of her strong points. However, stubbornness is, so she continues to persevere. So far, Morgan is confident enough to order a beer and a pretzel.
You can also sign up for her newsletter to receive a #FREE copy of Disjointed Lives, a short story about friendship and a toxic relationship - 

Connect with Morgan:

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Facebook Group • Instagram • Pinterest
Amazon Author Page • BookBub • Mastodon • Goodreads

No comments:

Post a Comment