His warm oblivion lasted till exactly five am the next morning. Damn cock!

Somehow Harun got to the door and down the stairs without breaking his neck. He had really overdone it last night. What he needed now was a drink. Not a hot herbal tea with honey or anything like his other usual favorites. No, something icy cold, something to splash into your face and bring you back to the world of the living.

He tottered out of the keep, down the crumbling stone steps and towards the castle gates. Or at least the silhouette he took to be the gates through his still half-closed eyes.

“Morning,” came a familiar voice from somewhere.

“’ing, Wenzel,” Harun grunted.

“Want to get out, do you?”

“Hm. Water. Well.”

“Sure I should let you go? There could be some bad folk about.”

“Hrrrm.”

“All right, all right, it was only a little joke. Wait a moment. I’ll open the side gate.”

The little side door creaked, and Harun tumbled through. He found his way to the well and tried to tug on the winder to pull the bucket up. Nothing happened. The winder did not move. The damn thing was stuck.

He leaned against the well, trying not to doze off again.

“Wenzel,” he called, “come out and help me, will you?”

“What’s up?”

“The bucket is stuck somewhere.”

“I’ll come and have a look.”

Wenzel stepped outside, and carefully detached the snoring scribe from the well. Gratefully, Harun slumped against the castle wall. He heard Wenzel turn the winder, heard him panting and grunting. It sounded like hard work. Hard work which he, fortunately, did not have to do. The winder stopped. There was silence.

“Got it?” asked Harun.

There was no answer. Not unless you counted the terrified scream. Suddenly, he heard loud and fast footsteps. Someone was running away.

Harun's eyes snapped open.

“What in the name of Allah is…”

He stopped and gasped. He just got one glimpse of the pale face of the dead young man half with the big stab wound in his chest. The fellow was stuffed into the bucket, his arms and torso lying on the side of the well. Then the corpse slipped off the side of the well and tumbled into darkness. From deep down, there was a splash.

*~*~*~*~*

Harun was still standing at the well when people started to arrive. They came out of the small castle side gate, and, after a servant boy had run down to the village to tell everybody, from there, too, in great numbers. They didn't do anything very helpful. They just stood around the well, muttering, or staring into the round, stone-rimmed hole of darkness. Nobody thought of turning the winder to get the poor fellow out of the water, and when Harun suggested as much, they ignored him. There was a lot of crossing oneself going on, to which Harun normally had no objections, but which now somewhat annoyed him because it was so utterly pointless in this situation. Did nobody have any brains and initiative here? Something needed to be done!

Finally, the great gates opened, and Sir Christian stepped out, in his usual quiet, but majestic demeanor.

“My good people, stand aside,” he commanded. “This is not proper.”

Well DeadRead this story for FREE!