“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
Allyn’s face goes bloodless white, eyes wide on his clipboard. “Will…” he virtually whispers. “This… tell me this name isn’t right.”
“That depends,” says Will. “What’s the name?”
The camera zooms in for a close-up of Allyn’s terror. “Sir Guy of Gisborne.”
“Yep,” Will confirms. “That’s who we’ve got. You gonna read that introduction now, or…?”
“No.” Allyn’s already backing offstage. “Dale no. I can’t be here for this. Have your fun without me.” Tossing the clipboard to Scarlet, he adds, “And try not to die.”
With a shrug, Will carries on alone as, from the other side of the stage, a dark shadow looms. “Friar Tuck once described him thus:
He is a devil among men, is what he is. […] One of those unknown mercenary sorts who appear out of the blue wherever there are men with riches and motive enough to pay their blood money. He has been Sheriff Swanton’s ruthless right hand the greater part of this past year, dubiously knighted and set loose to do the unethical and, often enough, unlawful filthy work with which His Lordship of Nottinghamshire would not soil his hands, in addition to his primary assignment.
“Welcome, Sir Guy!” he greets the figure stalking toward the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why the long face?”
Gisborne regards him through the eye hollows of his masking hood, fashioned from the dark hide of a horse head. He says, his voice a frigid growl, “Is that supposed to be funny?”
“A joke, yes. Funny, to me. In all seriousness, though, what’s with the getup?”
“It’s a signature,” says Gisborne, dropping into his seat with the deadly grace of a panther’s pounce. “One designed to disquiet. Fear is a valuable tool.”
“And one you wield well,” says Will, with a glance toward where his minstrel partner vanished. “So, you’re the Sheriff’s dirty business guy. How’d you land the gig?”
Gisborne fingers the hilt of his sword. “It came to my attention that he was having difficulty keeping certain of his jurisdiction’s troublemakers in check. I offered my services. The rest will be history, once I’ve completed my task.”
“The main of that task being?”
“The death of Robin Hood, and all his so-called Merry Men.” His disconcerting gaze holds Will. “You wouldn’t know where I could find any of them, would you?”
“Not a one,” Will squeaks brightly.
“Very odd. I’m told they have a band member called Will Scarlet.”
“Weird. Also weird: Nobody seems to know a darn thing about your backstory. Give us a tidbit. Any fun childhood facts?”
The gleam of his eyes darkens and returns in a slow blink. “I was born of necessity.”
“Tell her hello for me. Any hobbies?”
“Doling out justice.”
“Oh, fun! Robin’s all into justice, too. Rumor has it. No way I’d know personally. Y’ever think you two could be friends?”
“I make no friends of outlaws.”
“Only of Sheriffs who hire you to step outside the law on their behalf?”
Gisborne scoffs. “I am not Swanton’s friend. I am his teeth.”
“How ‘bout his minstrel?” Will inquires. “What’s your opinion of Allyn-a-Dale?”
“Small,” Gisborne says tersely. “Though my instinct says he’s larger than he seems. Swanton ought not be so quick to depend on him.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure you’re by far the more trustworthy. Speaking of things you can count on, it’s time for my final question! Tell me, Sir Guy, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” His smile glitters with its proximity to danger. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
“Danielle’s secret?” says Gisborne, rising from his seat. “She fancies herself one snap away from villainy, but she’s far too tangled up in her ideas of what she should be to ever become what she’d have to be. One snap alone wouldn’t do it. She would need to employ the likes of me to cut through to her potential. And I don’t see that happening.”
“Probably for the world’s best,” Will supposes – not that Gisborne’s likely to hear, having already prowled off the stage. “Ho, Allyn! The coast is clear. How ‘bout the word from our sponsor?”
Allyn’s head pokes cautiously out of the wings. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” he says, “is brought to you by ‘The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 3)’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now, both to buy and to win in this Goodreads giveaway!
Long ago: Hailed as heroes, killed as criminals, an extraordinary band of outlaws met their end in Sherwood Forest – all except the four who were supernaturally saved, and the one who did not exist. …Not yet.
Now: With Avalon Faire’s living legends finally free to move between the realms of magic and modernity, there’s no dream too fantastic to reach – including that kept alive by a secret society, awaiting only the right time, and the right minstrel, to rewrite history.
Just when the future seems brightest, the Merry Men find themselves thrust into the past, facing a second chance at the lives they might have lived … or the death they might not have the luck to cheat twice. For the otherworldly Allyn-a-Dale, it’s all in a day’s destiny. For an already struggling Will Scarlet, it’s a nightmare that may prove black enough to break him. And for the whole of the band, it’s anyone’s guess whether courage, cunning, and camaraderie can win out against their most infamous enemies: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and – for once in eternity – Time.
“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Sir Guy! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”