Imarp woke me up by kicking me in my back. I was awake immediately and wanted to stand up and hit him and yell at him, ask him about what he was doing in all of a sudden, but I couldn't - Imarp's hand held my mouth shut and his other hand showed me to remain quiet. He continued to wake up Tartek, Sereliaen and the princess - who slapped him roughly - with the same procedure. The last one was Carana. But before Imarp could use his right foot to interrupt Carana's sleep I quickly ran towards him and gestured wildly to warn him what he was about to do - and to let me wake her up instead. I first checked if she was dreaming, but I couldn't really tell. Since Imarp nervously looked outside the windows of the inn and whispered to hurry up, I just poked Carana softly until her eyes suddenly opened. I prepared myself to get hit or whatever, but instead Carana just stood up and looked at us with confused and sleepy eyes.
Imarp pointed at our luggage (all that we had brought with us inside the inn, the rest was still in the stables outside) and told us with short, whispered words to take all we needed, then he went behind the bar and winked us to follow him. He opened a wooden door in the floor. I could see a ladder reaching down into a tunnel that obviously would lead to somewhere below Emtik.
"Go," he whispered. "Go to Astatik, or wherever you want, but you gotta leave. This tunnel leads outside, just keep to the right."
I looked at Tartek, who had a doubtful expression on his face. But then he shrugged and jumped down the hole, without even using the ladder. The princess raised both eyebrows and pointed at the hole in the ground, as if to say, down there? Carana forced her down the hole with the most intimidating look I've ever seen and followed her. Sereliaen also grabbed the ladder and went down slowly, step by step.
Suddenly the door to the inn got opened.
"Just let me get some drinks for you and your men, I'm sure your journey from Insomida to here was extremely straining, wasn't it?" Imarp shouted with a forced smile on his face to the ones that had entered the room. I was stunned and couldn't move, so Imarp just grabbed me and threw me down the hole, immediately closing the door behind me.
I landed on Tartek who cursed me for not being able to fly. He pushed me away and I fell on my back.
"And what was that noise about up there?" he hissed. I guess he would've wanted to sleep another hour, at least he looked like that. Well, now that I think about it, we probably looked all the same.
Just then I noticed the tunnel we were in, and the small burning torches that spent enough light to see the ground and everyone's faces.
"I guess somebody from Insomida was here," I said while standing up.
"They are looking for us already?" Carana asked calmly.
"So what? We could've just thrown the princess at them to get ourselves enough time to at least grab the rest of our luggage," Tartek mumbled.
"What did you say?" the princess yelled.
"Be quiet!" Carana said with a strong voice. "If Imarp didn't want us to be seen, there has to be a reason, and whatever the reason is, we should just be thankful and leave."
"A major offense is the best defense. This here is just a cowardly act of someone who doesn't know anything about military strategies." Tartek folded his arms and kicked a small stone on the ground. "Hiding is just a temporary solution, but whatever." He went ahead with heavy steps.
"Why is your man so grumpy anyway? I hope it's not what I think it is, is it?" the princess said to Sereliaen with an evil grin.
Sereliaen slapped the princess with the back of her right hand and followed her husband. The royal daughter moaned because of the pain of her wounds in her face and then slowly went after the other two. "You'll get what you deserve once I'm back, I swear," she mumbled.
Carana and I looked at each other. She smiled and the little torches reflected in her eyes.
"Are you alright?" she asked me.
I nodded. "I'm with you, how can I not be alright?"
"Let's go," she said.
The tunnels weren't all too long, we soon arrived at a door that led into a small wooden cottage in the middle of a forest. It looked very similar to the one on the way to Namtolan, so we guessed that it had kind of the same purpose. With the only exception that this was the end of what appeared to be an escape tunnel (it could've also been a supply tunnel or something like that, we probably will never really know).
Tartek tried to find out where we were, but all he found out was a new way to curse. He couldn't really see around because the trees were too high. He couldn't figure out in what direction we were going since we had left Emtik because he had lost track of the direction in the tunnel system. He thought about climbing on top of the cottage, but the trees were still too high.
"I can't even see a damned mountain!" he yelled to himself. "Carana, can you climb up a tree? Aren't you into all this nature spiritual thing?"
Carana killed Tartek by stabbing him with her gaze.
"Nevermind," Tartek mumbled.
"I suggest that we just keep walking in the direction the door of the cottage is facing," I suggested loudly.
Tartek gasped. "What? That's not even funny! Are you trying to torture me with dumb ideas?"
"Well, imagine you come into these woods and you're about to build a cottage, wouldn't it be convenient to have the door faced to where you're coming from?"
"You want to go around and bet our lives on a stupid assumption?" Tartek said through his teeth, coming towards me with thundering steps.
"We've been surviving the past few days and we can survive another day in the woods. If we keep going into one direction we will come out of the forest eventually," I explained.
"Good." Tartek bristled with anger. "Let's go die."
Sereliaen followed him immediately, tried to hold his right hand, but Tartek dodged her hand. His wife just sighed and continued walking besides him, even if it was obviously hard for her to keep up with his fast pace.
"Will this ever end?" I asked Carana. She looked at the princess who was sitting on the ground with her arms resting on her knees. When she felt watched she stood up and ran after Tartek and Sereliaen.
"I sure hope so," Carana said and we moved on.
At night we finally escaped the woods and saw the quiet town of Astatik lying directly before us. I grinned at Tartek whose mood still hadn't changed. It was too dark already though, so he probably couldn't see my face.
Unlike the last time Carana and me had visited Astatik, two guards were coming towards us when we wanted to enter the town. Probably because it was night already and anyone who visits places at night was automatically suspicious.
It wasn't easy to convince them that we weren't here to steal or murder. I'm sure it must've appeared quite strange to the guards to see five people without horses coming out of the forest in the middle of the night, with almost no luggage at all, and a young woman with wounds in her face. But they eventually let us pass after Carana told them that her parents lived here and that we all wanted to visit them.
The few torches on every corner of Astatik lit our way to Carana's house. After knocking a few times her father opened the door and almost had a heart attack (imagine five dark figures standing in front of your house at midnight and it's easy to understand).
He let us all in and Carana quickly explained the situation to him. Her mother also accompanied us after a while. She was shocked as well, but when she saw Carana and me she was relieved.
"We have a royal visitor," Carana's father said to her mother and pointed at the princess. "The daughter of the King of Insomida."
The princess looked down at the floor, probably ashamed of the wounds in her face. "Pleased to meet you," she mumbled.
Carana's mother was really excited and worried. She brought everyone of us something warm to drink and a bit of bread to eat. She apologized that the house wasn't big enough for seven people, but she assured everyone a place to rest.
Carana and me are using the same room on the second floor as always. Tartek and Sereliaen are sleeping in the dining room. The princess is sleeping on the ground in the living room. She probably was terribly tired because she didn't even disagree when Carana's mother suggested that the princess could use the floor to sleep on, with some covers so it wasn't that hard.
Anyway, I better blow out the candle and join Carana in her sleep now... Hm.
I'm really worried about our current situation. I hope it wasn't a bad idea to get Carana's parents involved...