“Thunder?” Harun suggested, shrugging. “It is raining, after all. Maybe it's a thunderstorm.”

“Didn’t sound like thunder, that did” grunted Jan.

In Harun’s opinion it most definitely had, but he knew better than try and argue with Jan.

“Y- you don’t think,” stammered Edith, “you don’t think it might be the raiders? Coming into the castle?”

Evidently the men that had destroyed her home had not left her mind for one moment. And who could blame her?

“Could be,” said Jan, and Harun through him an angry look.

“Perhaps,” he suggested, on a sudden inspiration, “it was a ghost. The castle is cursed after all.”

The driver blanched.

Wenzel was about to make a horrified remark, when he saw Harun winking.

“Aye,” he said, catching up. “Aye. Perhaps it was that.”

“Tell me,” said Harun, working on the assumption that any subject was better than that of violent murderers coming after them, “what exactly is this curse about that everybody is so worried about? I never understood it, to be honest. All I have heard up to now are obscure and sinister hints. It might be a good time to tell the story now.”

“No it mightn’t,” growled Jan. “It ain’t now and never would be! The less said about it, the better!”

“But I would like to know, too,” said Edith, obviously distracted from a subject that was to her considerably more sinister. “I know bits of the story, but I never heard told all.”

“Well, if you really want to hear…” Wenzel was not keen on the subject, but it was plain that he enjoyed the interest in his person, particularly interest from Edith. “I’ll tell you. Yes, why not. After all, I’m a man, I’m not afraid of ghosts.” He made an effort to laugh, and it sounded almost natural.

All eyes were upon him now: those of the bondsman mildly interested, those of Harun considerably amused, and those of Edith simply adoring. Concentration obviously on the latter, he began.

“The story begins some 35 years back, the time when preachers from Rome, sent by his Holiness the Pope had come to the Holy Roman Empire to preach the crusade to the noblemen of the land, so as to rid the holy land once and for all from all the heathens-“ He stopped, looked at Harun, and hastily continued: “Well, we all know what the crusade was for. The point is, when they came to Germany and preached to the noblemen, many were caught by their fervent faith, and swore to take the cross and go on the way to Jerusalem. Even the aged Emperor himself, Frederick I of Hohenstaufen, took the cross. But this story is not about Frederick, as you know. Well, as most of you know. This story is about a young squire, who came from outside Frederick's domain, but was a vassal of Frederick’s most loyal liegemen. The squire begged leave from his lord to join the noble pilgrims of the sword, and prove his steadfast faith by finding his way to the city of the Lord.”

Harun rolled his eyes, though discretely. He was quite sure Wenzel did not know half the words he was using, but was reciting the often-heard tales of minstrels. And he was confirmed about a second later, as Wenzel slightly deviated from his style.

“Well, it wouldn’t have worked out like that, because a squire can’t just trot off on his own, can he. Yet the liege lord was gracious and, though the squire was very young still, elevated him to knighthood so that he might go forth and follow the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Wenzel took a deep breath. Not, Harun believed, for dramatic effect, but because what now came was really the most difficult part of the story.

“Now, the squire was a knight. And this knight, whose tale I am to tell, came from this very region, this very castle in fact; his name… was Sir Reimar of Joringard.”

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