XXVII. Duell

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Harun spent the following week watching from the embrasures of his tower room for passing knights. That his efforts proved unsuccessful was, however predictable it may have been, still infuriating. The week was past in a moment of empty horizons. On the eve of the battle, Harun had grown desperate enough to ask Wenzel whether he could not find himself a horse and armor. In return, he received a pitying look.

“Harun, I can’t fight for Karl, much as I’d like to. I ain’t a noble, much less a knight.”

“But you are a soldier! You know how to fight. If you put on a helmet with visor, nobody will know it is you. There is an old armor up in the tower stored with all the other weapons, we saw it when we hid up there. You could put it on and no one will ever know.”

“They’ll know all right. They’ll know the moment I get my ears hacked off. Harun, knights fight on horses, and when on the ground, they fight with swords. Never in my life have I even touched a sword, not to speak of knowing how to fight with one. If I have to fight, I fight with a spear or guisarme, which is totally different! No, forget it. Only a true knight could fight for Karl.”

“Then we are lost,” Harun summed everything up.

Harun went to the dining table that evening even less enthusiastically than usual. He could not see anything, a bowl of gruel most decidedly included, which would be likely to cheer him up in the near future. Therefore, he was mildly and pleasantly surprised to see the unexpected black figure of Bertram in the main hall. He was standing at Sir Christian's table, engaged in conversation with the nobleman.

Harun looked around. Nobody else was here yet, so the duty of rescue rested upon him. He advanced to his usual place to tear Bertram from the evangelical clutches of Sir Christian by whatever means necessary.

“…really think that I am not to blame, Father?” Sir Christian asked in a low, troubled voice.

“No, my son,” Bertram answered with the air of the professional father confessor. “If you were guilty of any sin, it would be that of presuming too much of God’s perfection for yourself. We, his children, are fallible always – it is how he made us, and thus error is not sin. Oversight is not wrongdoing.”

“Thank you Father! Thank you.”

“It was nothing, my son. I am glad to help where there is need.”

Harun wondered how long the recluse would yet be able to keep this up. However, it would be inhumane to wait and see out of mere curiosity. Therefore, he stepped up to them and bowed to Sir Christian.

“Milord…”

“Oh, Harun.” The knight gave him a weak smile. “Be welcome and sit down. You know Father Bertram, do you not?”

“Yes, I know …Father Bertram, yes.”

“We have been having a long talk.”

“I noticed.”

“He was wise and kind enough to guess how heavy this business of the killing and yet another death in our midst soon to come has been preying on my mind lately, and came to offer hearing my confession.”

Harun's jaw dropped. “He came to offer what?”

Bertram’s sharp eyes sparkled with laughter. “Why, yes. Do you find it so strange that a devout Christian should think of the spiritual troubles and needs of his fellow men?”

“Not that a devout Christian does, no.”

Bertram smirked. “Well there you have it.”

Harun stared suspiciously at the recluse, but he just continued smiling his hidden smile in silence.

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