“I will tell you the whole story of the murder, everything as it happened, from beginning to end,” sad Harun, and felt guilty about already having lied.
‘But If I do not lie at the beginning, I have to tell him right away what his brother was, and he’s still holding the flail…’
“Why I took it upon myself to investigate this matter is, I am sure, of no concern to you,” he continued. “All you must know is that I was up writing late on the evening of your brother’s murder, and I heard the splash which was made by his body being dumped in the well. That means we can fix the exact time of the murder. After that time, a castle guard told me, nobody entered or left the castle through the gate, which led me to to the conclusion that the murderer could not have come from within the castle.”
“I would never have thought of that…” Karl whispered. “How clever!”
“No. Dumb. Impossibly dumb, because wrong.”
“Which I unfortunately did not know back then. A few days later, I went and looked at your brother’s body in the chapel. The wound he died from, I heard from a reliable source, is a sword wound, one which only could have been inflicted by such a noble weapon. Thinking as I was back then that the murderer could not have come from the castle, my conclusion was therefore that the murderer must be someone from the village who owns a sword.”
“But nobody does.”
Harun waved his hand, impatiently. “I know I know I know! Did I not say I knew I was wrong? I am simply explaining what steps I took.”
“Uh.. all right then. Go on.”
“That is exactly what we will have to do.”
“Go.” Harun got up, facing the still standing peasant across the table. “Do you want to see how your brother was murdered? I can show you. But you must come with me.”
Karl looked back at the other room, into which the children had disappeared. Harun knew what he was thinking about. There were raiders about, after all.
“It will not be a long journey,” he said. “You will be back soon enough, and Sir Christian's guards are positioned around the village.”
Still, Karl seemed to waver. Finally, however, he nodded. “All right. And may you burn in hell if you’re just trying to fool me.”
Harun smiled. “Am I not going to do that anyway? Come. Night is falling and I have no wish to be abroad unduly long in this freezing cold.”
The two of them left the house with Harun leading the way. Night was indeed falling now. Only a faint red glow on the horizon yet told of a light in the world stronger than the glimmer of stars. It was ample to find their way through the deserted village, though. Up ahead, the shadow of Sevenport Castle loomed.
“We’re going to the castle?” Karl asked.
“Where else did you think? That is where your brother died.”
No further conversation ensued until they had reached the well before the gates, which were firmly closed by now. Karl stepped up to the hollow, rugged round, staring down into the darkness. When he succeeded in tearing himself away from the abyss, he found that Harun had not stopped beside him. In fact the scribe had passed the well without giving it a second glance. He was striding along the edge of the moat, as if with some definite end in mind. Now he turned, and saw Karl standing alone, back at the well.
“Come on,” he called. “What are you waiting for?”
The peasant followed, confused and frightened.
YOU ARE READING
Well DeadHistorical Fiction
A murder at the castle gates, a young widow in distress - and only one man willing to solve the mystery of the violent death that has disrupted the peaceful village of Sevenport! After years of hardship and slavery, Harun the Arab has found work as...