How could I not see this coming ...
Tartek and I woke up early today morning because we heard horses neighing outside. Sereliaen and the princess were already awake. Later they told us that they had argued most of the night. Both Astatik guards weren't ready yet. When we walked outside we saw the reason for our wake up call: The coachman had already been taking care of our horses. A few moments later the guards appeared and Mirnda provided us with a short but good breakfast.
We all looked rather tired, but whenever I looked into the eyes of either Sereliaen or the princess I kept wondering how they actually managed not to fall asleep during the journey to Insomida.
On our way Jaim kept telling us various tales and (made up?) life stories and the guards behind us kept laughing whenever another stupid joke appeared in the coachman's words.
It wasn't long after our depart when we passed people who probably were on their way to Astatik. They were all on foot, which made them look kind of desperate. It reminded me of our little uproar against Insomida, then again we weren't using the road.
"Cheapskates, can't even rent a horse," the princess said once.
At noon our little caravan arrived at the gates of Insomida. Nervously Tartek kept moving around his head from left to right, probably to watch out for Insomida Guards that could appear everywhere and pierce his shoulder or undertake other painful actions. But the only two Insomida Guards we could see were standing directly in front of the gates.
"Good evening," Jaim greeted the guards.
They just stared at him.
"My name is Jaim, I'm a coachman!" In the dawn I could still make out Jaim's sarcastic grin. He must've gotten used to those silent creepy Insomida Guards during all those years of service.
In all of a sudden the princess exclaimed that she was the Princess of Insomida, and if they didn't let us through momentarily the king wouldn't be so forgiving as she was. Tartek scoffed.
The guards didn't believe her, so we had to show them Vetar's signed letter. Still skeptical they finally opened the gates. Astatik's guards wished us a good night.
We were pretty amazed to find almost no life in the alleys of Insomida. The princess just shrugged and told us that there's probably some kind of new law that forbade villagers to walk around at night.
"If you say so," Jaim said. "I hope it is allowed to visit the inn, because I'm hungry and could use a comfy bed for the night. Scarlat's is my second home already, right after Mirnda's." He snickered.
Jaim let us off the carriage in front of the Insomida Castle.
"May we meet again! Have a good night, y'all," he said and then left us.
We experienced a problem with another two guards in front of the castle - they didn't believe the princess's words either. The Namtolan letter was shown, they hesitated and let the princess through, but stopped the rest of us by drawing their swords and pointing them at Tartek, Sereliaen and me.
"With all due respect, we're here to deliver the princess," Tartek grumbled. "So if you would be so kind and take your swords and stick them -"
"They're with me, let them through," the princess said.
The guards looked at each other, put away their swords and let us pass.
"Wow, this place is run-down. You leave a few days and all hell breaks loose," the princess said and the castle's dark rocky walls returned the echo.
We walked through a long corridor with heavy looking wooden doors on each side. At the end of the corridor another gate appeared, just a bit smaller than the one at the castle's entrance. I heard Sereliaen's teeth rattling. Tartek held her closer to his body.
With a loud moan the princess opened one side of the gate. "Do I have to do everything myself now?" she complained.
We slowly followed the princess through the gate and entered the huge throne room. Ridiculously oversized paintings of family members and previous kings decorated the cold walls and a chandelier hung from the ceiling. There were about eight broad pillars, beautified by a couple of lit candles in candle holders that were placed at about half the pillars' height. Four steps led to the massive throne on which the King of Insomida rested. I couldn't remember when I'd seen him last, but ever since the king's black beard and hair had grown rather long. His general appearance felt like the castle - in need of serious improvement.
"Kina!" the king called out. "By my right arm, what do you think you're doing here? Aren't you supposed to learn some manners in Namtolan?"
The princess ran towards her father and stopped right in front of him.
"What in my father's name happened to your face?" The king stroke his daughter's head with his thick hand. "Who are these people?" The other hand was lifted in our direction, pointing at us with a finger that probably was half the caliber of my arm.
I stepped forward. "Good evening, we are here to deliver your daughter who has been injured in an unfortunate accident that occurred in Namtolan, involving a bear attack."
The king's face formed a disgusting grimace, then he glared at his daughter and her injuries. "What are you talking about?"
I walked closer to the throne and handed Vetar's letter to the king - and he slapped it out of my hands so hard that I thought my fingers broke.
"Guards!" he yelled.
Tartek was about to jump and probably sink his fists into the king's visage, but I held him back. He glared at me, and to explain my actions I nodded in the direction of the king. Behind the throne there appeared about ten Insomida Guards with drawn bows, aiming at us. More armored men appeared behind us, quickly and unnecessarily brutal bending our arms behind our backs and taking us away. Sereliaen screamed and started crying.
"It's going to be alright! Don't worry, Sereliaen, it's going to be alright!" Tartek kept saying.
"I will take care of them, my princess," I heard the king assuring when we were pushed outside the throne room. "They won't do you any harm anymore."
Through long corridors and a few stairs we were brought into the same jail that started this whole nightmare. I saw one of the guards pressing both hands on a small plate, opening a cell. All three of us were literally thrown in. The guards shut the cell again and left the jail...
Luckily there's a lit candle on a table which is standing opposite to our cell. Ever since we were brought in here Tartek has been walking in circles, yelling the same things over and over again...
"It's all your fault, Antaran!"
"We should've just killed that little bitch and be done with it!"
"I will slit this so-called king's throat and in the last few minutes of his life I'm going to strangle his daughter right in front of his eyes!"
Sereliaen stopped sobbing a while ago, but she's still cowering in a corner, staring at the ground.
And I'm still writing into this journal that I have found right here. I just find it somehow irritating that I seem to run out of pages now that I'm back in jail...
If Tartek for once would just shut his mouth! I can't sleep... Then again, I guess I couldn't sleep even if it weren't for Tartek's ranting. I hope Carana's alright. I actually hope that she's already on her way to Insomida. I have absolutely no idea how we should ever get out of here. Maybe Jaim's bright enough to figure out that something happened to us. I can't seem to remember anyone else who saw us arriving in Insomida, except the guards. There were absolutely no people around... I could see light in various houses, so that's at least a sign that Insomida is not completely forsaken. And yet...