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We told them about our friend, who vanished and asked their help in finding him. Some of them immediately mounted their horses and split up in search of Daniel. After answering some of our questions we were escorted to a carriage and taken to Bohemia Castle.

As we progressed on our bumpy ride,a gateway to a whole new world was opening up. Losing the staring crowd of people, it was passing lime stone walls, and behind that,extremely luxuriant gardens with neatly trimmed hedges. There were acres of grass in impeccable condition.
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A young servant girl,nearly bumped me over in her haste. She startled me!
"My lady,I am so sorry. There is news from your friend, the one you lost at sea.."
"What is the neas? Tell me!"
"I do not know. Lord Pooler asked that you and your friend come down to the formal sitting room. He wants to have a word with you."
By this time, Aldrich joined us in the corridor.

We followed the girl downstairs, anxious to receive word. On arrival at the sitting room,it was already filled with Pooler and his men. They all stood there,looking rather irritated and impatient.
"Ah,finally you're here," he said, as if we were somehow late. Aldrich was the first to utter a word.

"Have you any news on our friend? Have you found him? Is he alive? " A blonde man with a moustache and beard stopped forward.

"Mr Latham, I am Carnell,military chief to King Montecute." The man swallowed troublesome, "there was no sign of life. We covered the shore area and the woods for kilometers on end,but nothing. Not even footprints, clothing nor a body washed up on shore. I regret to tell you that your friend might have perished." Aldrich's face went bleak instantly.

Lord Pooler was sucking on his cigarette, blowing circles into the air. What a merciless man! There was absolutely no emotion on his stern face. He saw me looking at him in utter dismay and turned around slowly, continuing blowing circles. I saw his grey hair, with a salt and pepper look,a neat haircut, reminding me of Hitler. Not the haircut as much as his aura...It was unbearable!

I stood up and gave my friend the most warm-hearted hug I could think of. I felt Aldrich's limp arms, trying to hug me back. He was so distraught; he sank down into the nearest chair. An unfamiliar anger took hold of me. I walked over to Pooler and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around baffled and looked down at me with icy fury.

It startled me,but I dug up all the courage I had.

"Lord Pooler, I want to thank you on behalf of my friend and I for taking this delicate matter in your capable hands. I must just add that we've been here for almost an entire day now and we don't know where we are, what we are doing here or what year it is. Tell me,where is the King of this castle?" My voice became shriller and I felt the boldness leaving me.

As the other men came towards us, their expressions turned threatening. I caught a glimpse of their swords,glistening in the light, projected by the fire. Pooler lifted his hand to signal to his men to stay calm. His harsh expression turned into a mocking laughter. Without warning, he clasped my wrists so tightly, that I gasped in shock.

"You and your friend are here on our good graces. We received you with hospitality, took you in; even spent countless hours looking for your deceased friend and this is how you thank us? I think you should overthink your attitude and I know just the place."

Carnell stepped forward and spoke in a hushed tone.

"Hearst, no, this is not necessary. They are our guests, she is not a murderer or thief. Let this be a warning this time..." his eyes rested on Heart's, letting his calmness debate the outcome. The older man's eyes were still wild and I could smell his cigarette breath, blowing heavily into my face as his heaving chest rushed up and down.

For him,this spelt defeat, but the sudden violence that overcame him,shocked his men and the room was filled with disgusted expressions. Maybe he has gone too far this time. He let go of my arms and wiped the sweat from his upper lip, lacking his former poise. My whole body was shaking. No man has ever treated me this way, much less with a full gallery of male onlookers.

"If there is nothing more my lady, I propose that we adjourn. Prince Montecute can answer further questions if you wish,"Carnell said with sympathy, the others murmuring in agreement. Hearst was standing at a distance, gaze fixed on the burning embers.

I wasn't staying in this place a minute longer! We are their prisoners. God only knows what will become of us.

"Steph,did you hear what I just said?"
"No,sorry, what?"
"Do you want to stay in this mystery madhouse? "
"Not a moment longer, let's make a run for it!"
"Where to, we don't know this place?"
"Aldrich, it's worth a try...anywhere. Maybe we can find a way out."
"Should we try the woods?" He suggested.
Unsure,but fearless, I complied.

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