When the people began to disappear from the streets and the farmers left the fields for their homes, he returned to the inn. Derdim had not yet returned from the brothel. Two tables were occupied by local merchants, and a third had four guards with raven tabards. Men-at-arms from the keep, no doubt. Awyg sat at the fourth table, and he waved towards Tom.
“Come join me, my friend,” he shouted, and pointed to a seat next to him. Tom readily approached but as he neared, he noted the man’s tension, the false smile. He recognized a trap, and began to move towards the door. The guards blocked his way. “You’re not going anywhere boy,” said one with a bushy beard, “So just sit down and have some supper. Just give me your weapons first.”
Tom bolted, shoving the speaker aside with his palm. A tall, skinny guard grabbed his arm and held him long enough for the fat one to get his legs. Tom jerked free of the tall one but the fat one pulled him down to the dirt floor. He tried to kick. He beat on the man’s head and shoulders without effect. Then the other three grabbed his arms, and it was all over. With a man on each limb, and Tom lunging and kicking all the way, the guards bore their prize out and back up the hill.
“Damn you to the flames!” said the bearded one as they walked. “Why’d you have to go and fight like that? Theberga makes a damn fine supper, and I was all set for one of her lamb shanks.”
“Want to rough him up a bit?” asked the fat one.
“No, Lord Tosann needs the vicious bugger,” replied the first, “We’ll just let him cool off in the dungeon for a while.”
Help, shouted Tom. Derdim, I’m in trouble! They’re taking me to the castle! Help! He twisted his head to the right but he could not see his friend.
The guards bore him through the gate to the inner bailey. Two more guards came up and stripped him of his gear — weapons, pack, belt and belt pouches, as well as his boots. They put shackles onto his ankles and wrists. Then one of them went ahead down the steep stairs to the right with a lantern. The rest of the guards motioned for Tom to follow. Again, he bolted for the open gate, or at least he tried.
“For Modor’s sake,” said the fat one. “What an idiot!” The five guards massaged Tom with their fists and boots but he kept kicking and fighting until, in the end, they had to carry his semi-conscious body down the stairs. The stairs went down about eighty feet and led to a short corridor with four large wooden doors and another two low wooden doors, only three feet in height, at the end of the hall. Tom was thrown into the first cell and the door slammed behind him. “What an idiot,” said the fat one again, as the guards returned upstairs.