The next, or more precisely the rest of the same day, gave Harun not much opportunity to think quietly, and even less for any shurta exploits. The village cock – obviously not prone to have mercy on a poor pursuer of murderous rogues who had only two hours of sleep at his disposal – crowed with unmerciful consistency in the glowing golden sunlight of dawn.

Down in the main hall, at the breakfast table – how had he managed to get down there? – Harun was not really able to follow the monologue of Sir Christian about the life of Constantine and early martyrdoms. The scribe had to fight his way through his morning bowl of gruel, which he found especially hard today, thinking of the delicious breakfast someone else was probably having at the moment not too far away in a shabby little cottage out in the forest.

Had he not been thus distracted, Harun might have noticed how Sir Christian talked a lot less about Masses being held for the sake of someone’s soul, and a lot more about work to be done in the Scriptorium. However, he was distracted, and only was alerted to the change as Sir Christian remarked: “After the funeral, we can begin to work in honest again. I look forward to it. Nothing could be better for driving away the memory of this dreadful business than immersing oneself once again in the life of saints.”

“What?” Harun’s head jerked upwards. He was so sleepy that he had nearly sunk his overlong, curved nose into the remainder of his breakfast. A thankful shudder ran down his spine. Having the stuff in the mouth was bad enough.

“I said, what we need to put this dreadful businesses behind us, good scribe, is to immerse ourselves in the life of saints.”

Harun frowned. “What dreadful business?”

Sir Christian turned his head and looked at him disapprovingly. “Now, now, Harun. It does not become you to forget the prematurely departed that soon. I am of course talking of the poor peasant Lukas, one of my loyal bondsman, who still lies in the chapel awaiting his burial and, hopefully, his entry into heaven. We all must think of him and labor for his sake, albeit only spiritually.”

“Ah.” Harun smiled wryly and nodded. “How very true.”

Sir Christian’s expression grew less sternly. “So you do know your duties as a fellow Chr- man.”

“Yes, I think I do.”

“That is well. I have heard that yesterday, you were not to be found all day. Truth be told, I was very anxious. After your very proper visit to the chapel, I thought perhaps some demon may have led you astray from this promising path again.”

“But no, Milord. On the contrary, I was continuing on the same path as then.”

“What joy. I for my part have spent the last days in unfaltering service to the poor soul. I have prayed day and night for him to be admitted into heaven, so that we can all be sure everything is well again.”

“Well,” Harun murmured, “that’s not exactly what I have been doing myself, but I have also… tried to resolve certain problems.”

“Indeed?” Interest showed on Sir Christian’s earnest face. “Please do not take offense, but it would interest me very much in what way a heathen like yourself could have contributed to the man’s deliverance.”

“I…ehm…” Harun thought, furiously. “I… went into the forest, to a pious recluse, who lives out there a life of utter humility, and beseeched him to help me, as I myself was devoid of direction in my life, lost in the dark. And he showed me the way through the darkness to the fields of plenty.”

Sir Christian’s face lit up in radiant exuberance.

Harun sighed and turned back to his gruel. Well, technically it hadn't been a lie.

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