Buzzards, Hawks and Ravens

(Account of Six Friends' Lives in the "Dark" Ages)


Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 13.1

- The Pilgrimage-


- Start to a Clandestine Venture -


Berrit gasped for air and his face was reddened by exertion. With a vigorous push he tried to hold back the strokes of his attacker. He was a square man, protected by an aketon, which is a kind of a padded coat. He tried to parry the man's heavy truncheon strokes with his left arm, which was enveloped by a heavy rug, and at the same time he tried charging his enemy with the small dagger in his right hand.

"Take this, and that!" he shouted at his attacker. Sweat trickled down his forehead and soaked his shirt soaked with sweat, making it stick to his shoulder blades.

Stepping back, Berrit bumped into Anzo, who was warding off bludgeons with a pitchfork, as they were being swung at him by two bulky men clothed like robbers.

"Shit!" Anzo hollered, "Don't knock me over, Berrit! I am as worn out as you are!"

To the left of the combatants, with his back to a stone wall, Bastian was engaged in a swordfight with a lanky mercenary who was safely protected by a vest of heavy leather. Bastian was in severe trouble, because his assailant wielded his sword much more effectively. He had been able to avoid cuts by backing up, but now his back touched the wall. He was pinned against the rough stonework and his only chance was to fool his adversary with a feint. Bastian started an attack to the left, jumping simultaneously to the right and moving forward. He was successful in getting away from the wall and the move improved his defensive position tremendously.

The dusty courtyard between the high walls of the inner ward of Quentisburry castle rang out with the booming noises of the clashing weapons and the swearing of the combatants. The fight had lasted for more than an hour now. Sweat was pouring down the faces of all the fighters, and they were showing signs of fatigue. None of the parties was about to surrender, but suddenly an unexpected rescue approached for the embattled Berrit, Anzo and Bastian. The small gate to the outer ward of the castle swung open, screeching shrilly. Thimus and Jannes appeared, followed by Ruwen, on horseback. The two boys, whooping war cries, raced across the courtyard to rescue their friends. They charged forward to attack the men fighting Berrit and Anzo.

"Attack, attack the raiders!" they yelled, kicking their enemies in the hollows at the back of their knees, clinging to their legs and trying to bite each in the ass.

"Peace, peace! Surrender! The stinging hornets are back!" the attackers yelled. Stopping their attack, they turned around, grinning. The square man lifted Thimus up in the air and took him into a bear hug, while the two `robbers' began to swing Jannes.

Now it became clear to everyone that the fight was just a training session for Berrit, Anzo and Bastian. The square man was Berrit's father, Duke Edo, and the two `robbers' were Jesper and Pinkus, corporals of the Grey Raiders, and the mercenary, Anzo's friend, Marti.

"Fight's over!" the Duke announced. "Enough exercise for today, my sons. Now you are prepared to ward off enemies of all kinds while on your pilgrimage to St. Oranna's Chapel, and your voyage to Trescrossing, the seat of governance for the Prince-Bishop."

Looking at Berrit, his youngest son, and Anzo, Berrit's boyfriend, he announced proudly, "You are both born knights. Not even eight years of living like monks has spoiled your fighting talents, Berrit. And you, Anzo, my friend, you haven't unlearned your skill as a huntsman during your time as a novice. Do you know what the master of the huntsmen told me yesterday? `You can be proud Sir. Berrit has the best friend possible. Anzo is an unsurpassed huntsman and unrivalled in scouting, and he is a perfect knight too!'"

The young mercenary, bowing slightly to the Duke, "Allow me to add something important, Sir! Bastian has made the most progress of all the four friends. Half a year ago he was just a strong farm boy, able to split the head on a bull with one stroke of an axe. Now he is an elegant sword fighter, able to defeat any knight. He is living up to his title as a Midsummer Night Prince, as conferred on him and Ruwen by the three mighty norns, the three Weird Sisters."

Bastian blushed and looked bashfully down at the ground. Ruwen, not included in the praise, complained vehemently, "And me? Nobody pays compliments to my progress!"

"I do!" Berrit laughed out loud, "I do whole-heartedly! And you've forgotten about the maiden virgins! As soon as they see you strolling through the town they start drowning in their own juices! You are not only the bravest but also the best-looking and most awesome young gentleman in the whole county! Every girl in the county is crazy for you!"

"Hey, cool it Berrit! Ruwen is my best friend." Walking over, Bastian pressed Ruwen to his breast, kissing him sweetly, "Come my awesome stud, let me comfort you!"

The young Genoese mercenary, who just had been praising Bastian, walked over and bumped knuckles with Ruwen. Then he stated, exaggeratedly, "Not a soul in the whole universe is able to ignore the bravest and best healer ever!" and Count Edo added, "I agree!"

Thimus, taking Ruwen's horse by the bridle and plucking at Anzo's sleeve, "Hi, big bro. You haven't yet seen the clothes Jannes´ mother has sewn for us! We will look like peasant boys on our pilgrimage, not like pages to Duke Edo! Come with me and Jannes. We want to show our new outfits to the duchess, Berrit's mother!"



While the others went to the main hall, Ruwen and Bastian lagged behind. Bastian, overjoyed by Ruwen's return from a six days round as a travelling healer, took Ruwen into his arms and spoke into his ear, "Can you feel it, my Ruwen? My juices are boiling over too; not only the girls' mouths are watering!"

"Are you downplaying your feelings, Bastian?" Feeling up his friend, Ruwen started chuckling. "I can feel something harder than steel and hotter than a torch in your trousers."

"I'm glad you found it. I'm tired of long distance fights; let's get into hand-to-hand combat." Kissing Ruwen hard, he sighted in anticipation; "I've missed you already for much too long. Come on, I can't wait to do you!"

"Not here in the ward; no public viewing!" with that Ruwen broke away, bolted through the small gate and dashed into forest surrounding the castle. Bastian chased after him. A game of hide and seek commenced, ending at their favourite hiding spot, a small clearing close to the castle wall.

Enjoying the spring sun, the two began a friendly tussle. Romping with each other in the spring sun, Bastian finally ended up on top of Ruwen.

Choking with laughter, Ruwen surrendered. "You've got me, you've got me! I surrender!" But Bastian didn't stop!

Sniffing Ruwen all over like a young dog would, Bastian pulled off Ruwen's clothes, "You smell great, Ruwen! You smell like you did when we made-out in the hay!"

A naked Ruwen relaxed in Bastian's arms, closing his blue eyes. Bastian, however, was on fire with anticipation. "Smelling you, my dear, is not good enough. I need to taste every single part of you!" whereupon he started kissing Ruwen all over.



The small room behind the secret door, high up in the donjon, was illuminated by only three candles as well as the sparse light of the half-moon, which flickered through the loopholes. Jannes and Thimus had just left the room with a special order issued by Duke Edo, who was standing at the head of the table covered with bowls full of delicious dishes. The ruler of Quentisburry raised a goblet full of wine, proposing a toast. "Let's drink to the spirited endeavor ahead of you, my courageous sons! Let's drink to your attempt to find your brother's murderer, dear Berrit, and the originator of the murderous attacks on you and Bastian!"

The Duke, the Duchess and the four young men downed the sweet wine in one swig. Then the four friends embraced each other. One after the other stepped in front of the Duchess and she gave each her motherly blessing.

The solemn silence was interrupted by an encrypted knocking at the door: long-short-short-long-long. The door was swung open and Marti, the Genoese mercenary, and three boys clad like pages walked in, followed by their summoners, Jannes and Thimus.

"Welcome, Mercenary Marti!" Duke Edo announced, "Welcome, Davy, Fatty and Jaco, my brave pages!" While the four newcomers stood riveted at the door, Jannes and Thimus squashed themselves together into a chair.

"Before I reveal my orders to you, I have to ask you some questions: Do you four swear to God to be the abiding servants, trusted helpers and soldiers of Duke Berrit, Count Anzo and the Midnight Princes Ruwen and Bastian? Do you pledge your troth to these four masters and to protect Thimus and Jannes? --- Do you pledge your troth among each of you?"

With these words the Duke drew an old, rusty sword out of its sheath and presented it to the four, "Do it, by swearing on the cross guard of my forefathers' sword!"

Each of the four added his right hand to the cross guard, Marti first, then Fatty, then Jaco and at last, Davy. Then all four spoke in unison, "We will! We pledge our troth to Berrit and his friends and to each other!"

Asked to sit down at the table, Fatty and Davy went hand-in-hand to sit to the left of Bastian. Now only one place was left, opposite the Duke. Jaco hesitated, then uttered a barely audible, "Everyone has a friend, Berrit has Anzo, Ruwen has Bastian, Jannes has Thimus and Fatty has Davy. Only I do not have a friend to share a place."

Marti, still waiting at the door, overheard the low-key lament. He turned to Jaco, who could easily be his son, "Would you mind becoming my friend? I am old enough to be your father, but I feel still young enough to be your friend! Let's team up. I feel confident we will become a great team." With these words, and accompanied by the approving smiles of the others, the lanky mercenary ushered the slender Jaco to the empty seat.

Jaco beamed. He had admired the strong mercenary ever since he had turned up in Quentisburry Castle. Shyly, he looked up to Marti, and then, collecting all his courage, he just said, "I will give you my best!"



The war council was continued during a hefty meal. The discussion was mainly between Duke Edo, Berrit, Ruwen and Marti.

The first proposed assignment was unopposed. "You two, Ruwen and Bastian, will leave the city tomorrow morning with Jannes and Thimus, by means of the Western Gate. You'll take the healers wagon. People you come across during the journey will take you for traders because of the looks of the cart. Just tell them, you are on your way to the Chapel of St. Oranna, to serve the pilgrims at Bealltuinn."

"But papa, Duke Edo, why doesn't Anzo come along with me; he is my guardian!" Thimus asked.

"You'll meet me soon enough again," Anzo answered appeasingly, "I will leave with the others on the day after, on horseback, dressed up like I'm going for a hunt up in the mountains!"

"So, I will not see you again for a long time!"

"You silly!" Berrit intervened. "We six will only stay together for one day, till we have passed the first mountain ridge. The next morning we will split up. Anzo and I will meet you at the foot of the second mountain pass at the path to Oranna's chapel, while the others will go on."

"And what will happen to us?" little Davy asked, worried, "Are we supposed to go on a hunt without Anzo? He is the best deer tracker, and without him we will never find a quarry and will starve to death!"

Fatty tried to calm his friend. "Don't worry, we will not die of hunger, even if Anzo is not with us."

Now it was Marti's task to inform his three small travelling companions. "We will not go to St. Oranna's chapel. Instead, we will ride directly on to Trescrossing. Before we enter the Episcopal city however, we have to split up into two parties and pretend to be utter strangers."

"Why?" Fatty asked in surprise.

"That's part of the secret scheme." Duke Edo explained, "In Trescrossing you will show up as three separate parties and pretend not to know each other. Remember that in all circumstances."

Berrit explained further: "Fatty and Davy, you are in one party. You will both have to find work as hands at a dealer or better, in a monastery. Marti and Jaco are the second party. As a mercenary, Marti will have no problem joining the Archbishop's army. He will take along Jaco, as his page boy. Some days later, at the Whitsun Market in Trescrossing, Ruwen and I will make our appearance as healers. We will come into town together with Bastian, Anzo, Thimus and Jannes. We are the third party."

"But why this complicated scheme? Why should we pretend to be strangers?" Fatty and Jaco asked, nearly in unison.

"For our safety. It is better if you are not let into the full secret at this moment. You will get all the necessary information in time." Count Edo finished the discussion and adjourned the war council. "Now let's celebrate by finishing this late night dinner! Cheers!"



The moon was down when the dinner was completed after midnight. Feeling their way down the steep winding staircase in the dark, Jaco groped after Marti's hand. Hardly audible, he asked, "Can I spend the night with you, Marti? You offered me your friendship and friends are supposed to stay together all the time!"

This unexpected request startled the young mercenary because he had not seriously thought of little Jaco as his friend, so far. However, after a moment of consideration, he picked up the small boy and carried him to his room in the soldier's quarter without a word.

Spooning with his small companion in the small bed, Marti tussled Jaco's hair. "Do you mind, little friend, if I touch you? You are so soft, Jaco," and pressing his nose into Jaco's hair, he continued, "I like your baby smell! I've never had such a small friend before!"

Instead answering Jaco pushed back his reed-like body against Marti's muscled one. After some moments he whispered, "Sure, Marti, it feels so good! I like you holding me tight." Still a little later he added, "That's what friends are for!" and he fell asleep with a happy sigh.



In the grey morning light the healers´ wagon was to leave the castle of Quentisburry by means of a small gate. The cart was drawn by four light horses, which could be used for pulling as well as for riding. Ruwen was riding the lead horse and Bastian controlled the reins, sitting on the box frame by Jannes and Thimus. While Berrit and Anzo waved goodbye from a window in the mansion, Marti, carrying Jaco like a baby on his back, closed the gate behind them.

Excited and looking forward to the adventures ahead, Jannes and Thimus checked every single lane branching off from the main street of Quentisburry on their way to the western town gate. However at this early hour not one of their friends showed up to wish them a good trip.

At the still closed town gate, Jannes' parents were waiting. Jannes´ mother cried and kissed her boy goodbye. "Be careful my sonny!" Hugging him again, "Always obey your big friends, Ruwen and Bastian! --- And you, Ruwen, take good care of my little boy!"

Jannes´ father, the captain of city guards, opened the gate and turned to the still drowsy Thimus, "Aren't you curious about Trescrossing, the place of your birth, Thimus? --- I am sure you will meet the strolling players at the big Whitsun market in Trescrossing, as agreed upon! Then your grand parents can show you the place where they found you!"

Leaving Quentisburry made all four of them slightly gloomy, but soon their sadness was replaced by the anticipation of their upcoming adventures. Jannes and Thimus bombarded Bastian with questions about the events to come. One question was especially important to Thimus, "When will we meet Berrit and Anzo? Anzo promised yesterday that he would be with us soon. He promised never to desert me; all my life!"

"Hey, don't worry, Thimus; there is no reason to! Remember, we decided to leave Quentisburry in two parties to make people think we are heading to different places. It's a secret venture, and no-one is to know!"

"Is that the reason you have changed the appearance of our wagon? It doesn't look like the wagon of healers anymore. It just looks like the cart of traders." Jannes asked.



During the last several months the canvas covered wagon of the travelling healers had changed its appearance completely. When Berrit, Ruwen and Bastian had set out to rescue Anzo, the outside of the wagon was purposely decorated with eye-catching paintings to deceive Anzo's enemies. The paintings of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and the runes of great magic made the wagon look like the chariot of magicians. During the present journey however they wanted it to look it like the wagon of travelling merchants. Only at their two destinations, the pilgrimage site at St. Oranna's chapel and at the Whitsun fair in Trescrossing, they would reveal the cart's real nature as the healers treatment theatre.

Not only the wagon had changed its appearance. Ruwen and Bastian had also changed their outfits. Ruwen wasn't supposed to look like the shaman, Mimir, from the northern rim of the world anymore. Now he was dressed like a young travelling salesman. Bastian was dressed up as the carter to the trader and the two boys like helpmates of salesmen.

The most elaborate changes concerned the wagon though. Under the guidance of Marti, the Genoese mercenary and Anzo's friend, the magicians´ wagon had been rebuilt completely. Its undercarriage had been elongated, reinforced by new beams and the iron mounted wheels had been renewed. The wagon's floor now contained a secret compartment for an additional supply of medicine, some valuable books, writing and painting paraphernalia, and last but not least, for some sharp weapons and a bag of coins.

The wagon looked like one belonging to travelling salesmen, but in no time at all it could be converted into the wagon of travelling healers. Part of the wooden left side, between the front and the back wheel, could be folded out to form an elevated platform, to be used as the healers´ theatre. The roof of the faded grey canvas of the covered wagon could be turned into a pointed tent, covering the platform like a canopy, its wide opening towards the public. The inside of the tent was decorated to heighten the impression to the public. Its ceiling was of dark blue cloth, adorned with silver stars and a pale moon. In the back of the tent-like structure, on a head-high tableau, was a painted image of Mother Mary with a little Jesus dandled on her knee. The two flaps used for closing the tent could be folded back to the outside and fastened to the wagon. The sides of the flaps presented to the onlookers were decorated with the portraits of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The transformation of the wagon was mainly the Duke's idea. He had also insisted that the wagon be equipped with all the items necessary for a three-month voyage. He wanted the party of six to be independent of the supplies in the foreign country, with exception of food.



After leaving Quentisburry, Ruwen, Bastian and their fosterlings soon crossed the gallows-crowned hilltop west of the town. In the morning light this place of execution was not scary, despite the remains of two skeletons dangling in the air and the crows waiting in the trees for new corpses. Bastian drove the wagon down the steep hill, over the river, and then along its banks till they reached the mouth of a fast tributary river coming down the mountains, close to the border of Veldegg.

Ruwen and Bastian decided to spend the first night in the tavern of the village some miles up the tributary river. The main reason they decided on this place was Fair Fynn, Sturdy Uri and beautiful Sinah. They didn't have to wait too long till Fintan and Urs turned up hand-in-hand in the tavern. Thimus, knowing about the trick Ruwen had played on Fintan, went over, asking as innocently as a dove, "Kind regards, Fair Fynn, from my master, the great Magician Mimir! Did the love potion he prepared for you have the expected result? Are we allowed to congratulate you, as a father-to-be?"

Both young farmers blushed, Sturdy Uri even more than Fair Fynn. Stuttering, Urs asked back, "Who...who are you? What are...are you ta...ta...talking about? What do you know about a love potion?"

Fintan, being the brighter one of the two, recognized Ruwen despite his dress as a trader. He went over to him smiling and announced, full of pride, "You made a miracle, Great Mimir! No, you did at least three miracles! Uri, Sinah and I are now one heart and soul! Sinah is happy, feeling twins moving around in her womb and our widowed parents now enjoy a second spring-time!"

Sturdy Uri, finally realizing the situation, embraced Ruwen, lifted him high up into the air, kissed him and announcing proudly, "You are the greatest wizard of them all! You are beyond compare!"

That evening the four travellers didn't have to worry about or pay for anything. Like kings, they were entertained by Fintan, Urs, Sinah and their happy parents, and slept like dogs after their feasting until the small hours.

At their departure Sinah took Ruwen and Bastian aside, "Be back next year after the delivery of the twins I am expecting. I want more kids, and I would be honoured to give birth to little Midnight Princes! So do not hesitate to come in time; that is also the greatest wish of Fynn and Uri!"




About the same time that the Midnight Princes, Jannes, and Thimus said `Good Bye' to Fair Fynn and his family clan, Berrit was leaving Quentisburry with his companions. The day before had been very exciting for Fatty, Davy and Jaco. First they had spread around the news of their imminent departure for a lengthy hunting trip, in the castle as well as in the town. Second they had hurriedly collected all the necessary pieces of equipment for the journey. This was an easy task for Fatty and Davy, because they still fitted into the sturdy clothes they had been wearing as members of the Grey Raiders, the Brave Boy Bandits. They had also found all kinds of dangerous weapons, like daggers, a short sword, a bill-hook and some slings. Jaco, however, had problems finding fitting attire. Since he was five, he had worked as a scullion in the castle's kitchen and it was only some month ago that he been had advanced to being Berrit's varlet. The problem dissolved, when Fatty and Davy raided the Brave Boy Bandits´ supplies, with the permission of Pinkus and Jesper, the Grey Raiders corporals.

At noon Jaco presented himself proudly in his new attire, to Marti, Berrit and Anzo. Marti asked him to turn about in a circle and then announced, "Something is still missing, but what?"

"I know," Anzo answered immediately. "Jaco needs to wear an emblem that earmarks him as the boy page of a Genoese mercenary. Marti, he needs a cap and a collar with the coat of arms of your hometown!"

"You are right, Anzo. That's easy, as the Genoese coat of arms is just a plain red cross on a white shield!"

Jaco still had another problem to solve, a much more difficult one. In the morning, while the three boys had spooned their porridge, Fatty had asked him lewdly, "Hey Jaco, did you enjoy your first night with Marti?"

"Thanks, Fatty. It was great, I slept well!"

"Was that all you did?" and nudging Davy under the table, Fatty insisted, "Did you like how he made you?"

Noticing Jaco's lack of understanding, Davy crowed with his boyish voice, "How did you like getting fucked by Marti? Mercenaries are famed for fucking every living thing in reach; girls, boys, goats and even chickens!"

"I don't believe you both! I don't believe your foul words, Davy! Marti doesn't do anything ugly like that! He loves me!"

"Fatty loves me and I love Fatty!" Davy said defiantly to Jaco, and then Fatty added, "What do you think we do every night?"

Jaco was still a reed-like kid, but he had heard that loving someone also meant love-making. He never had made love to anybody so far, but he was sure Marti had! He pondered his situation the whole day. He wracked his brain till he had a really bad headache. In the evening he finally made up his mind and his headaches went away like they had never been there. Meeting Fatty and Davy before bedtime, he told them, "If Marti truly loves me I will make love with him, because I love him too!"

Marti was still discussing the details of the secret campaign with Duke Edo, Berrit and Anzo, when Jaco went to bed. In the expectation of something he had never experienced before, something that, for a small boy was like plunging into the depth of an unknown lake, Jaco had taken a bath. Now he, clean as baby, was waiting between the sheets for Marti. Tired, because of wracking his brain all day long and anxious about the things to come, the reed-like boy fell asleep.

Jaco was woken up by cold hands pushing him gently to far side of the small bed, and then he felt Marti spooning him tightly. Turning his head drowsily, he looked into Marti's half closed eyes.

"Hi Jaco. I didn't want to wake you up, but you occupied the bed completely. Go back to sleep, my little reed!"

Jaco was full awake in an instant. "I don't want to sleep now. I am not sleepy anymore, Marti. I was waiting for you!" Not waiting for an answer, he continued just as he had decided before, "Marti, do you love me?" Waiting for only a moment, "I love you Marti! Do you love me too?" Going on, he pressed, "Please, Marti, make love to me!"

Marti was staggered. Not knowing the context of Jaco's request, the young mercenary released Jaco and asked, "What are you asking for, boy? Me to make love to you, my little reed?" Gulping in amazement, he asked again, in disbelief, "Did you really ask me to make love to you?"

Now it was Jaco's turn to be surprised, "But Fatty and Davy swear to it! They told me mercenaries will only love somebody if they can fuck them!" When Marti didn't answer immediately, Jaco continued, nearly in tears, "I love you so much Marti, please make to love me!"

Now Marti began to laugh from the bottom of his heart, "You silly, wonderful boy, don't believe those rascals. Didn't I already tell you yesterday that you are my little reedy, my little boy, my soft wonderful boy? I love you Jaco!" Hugging and caressing Jaco, "Hey Jaco, tomorrow tell those monsters that I love you and our love needs no confirmation by fucking!"

Spooning Jaco tightly, Marti soon got a burning hot hard-on. This made him feel guilty and he began to feel like a monster. His body was wanting to make love but his conscience told him making love to Jaco would be raping an innocent kid. He nearly jumped out of the bed because he was so angry with himself, but then he made a decision. Hugging the small kid even tighter, he breathed into his ear, "Jaco, my little reed, let's talk about this difficult question another time. I love you, Jaco; whatever may happen, be sure of that!"



Next morning, before dawn, the alleged hunting party left Castle Quentisburry by the back gate, accompanied by the good byes of Berrit's parents. Berrit, Anzo, the mercenary and Fatty were on horseback, while Davy and Jaco used small but foot-steady donkeys.

The two youngsters soon lagged behind. Davy used the opportunity to question Jaco about the previous night, "Did Marti make love to you? Did it hurt much when he fucked you?"

Jaco was amazed by these inquiries, "Marti didn't fuck me. He loves me! Believe me, he really loves me! Marti said to me, `you are my little reed, and I never will hurt you', and he held me tight the whole night!"

Davy, getting a little bit jealous, sighed, "I would like to have a big friend like Marti too!"

The six alleged hunters spend that night in the tavern of the last hamlet, just below the top of the pass across the mountain ridge. Enjoying a relaxing meal, they discussed the hunting opportunities with the local peasants and shepherds. Next morning, after crossing the mountain pass, Berrit, Anzo, Fatty and Davy changed their hunting clothes for the simple clothes of travellers. while Marti dressed up in the colourful apparel of a mercenary and Jaco changed into his page boy attire, now sporting the Genoese´ coat of arms.

Waving each other good-bye, Marti and the three boys attacked the steep road up to the next mountain ridge, while Berrit and Anzo tackled the long and stony path running parallel to the ridges for their meeting with the Midnight princes.



The steep ascent to the pass of the first mountain ridge was very exhausting, and not only for the horses drawing the wagon. At the steepest inclines the four companions had to push the wagon as well. They reached the plateau below the saddle of the ridge in the late afternoon and stayed there for their second night.

The next day turned out to be at least as hard. It was already dark when they finally reached the resting place on their third evening away from the homey castle of Quentisburry. Both boys were dead tired. With chattering teeth, Jannes began to quarrel. "It's cold, and I am freezing to death! I miss my warm bed." Thimus groused, "Ruwen, you promised that Anzo would be here tonight and warm me! It's about midnight and he is still not here!"

"Don't attack my Ruwen!" Jannes retorted, "It's not Ruwen's fault, nor Bastian's! Berrit and Anzo are just unreliable wretches. They probably scoffed off in the tavern at the last mountain pass and forgot about us!"

Scarfing down a meager dinner, Thimus' sensitive ears became aware of the clopping of horses. "Listen! Horses are coming. Anzo and Berrit are coming. Let's run to meet them!" he demanded.

"Stop, stop! The clopping is still too far away. Anyway we don't know who is drawing nearer, Berrit and Anzo or strangers, may be even robbers." Bastian insisted.

"Bastian is right! We have to be prepared in case it's not Berrit and Anzo, but enemies." Ruwen issued a warning, "Extinguish all lights with the exception of the fire. It will illuminate the wagon from behind and therefore the incoming people will not be able to guess how many people are here!"

"Ruwen and I will hide down the road and ambush the riders in the hollow," Bastian explained to the boys. "And you both, Jannes and Thimus, will take the horses a short distance up the mountain and put them out of sight behind some shrubbery."

"No, we won't, these are not enemies. I know Berrit and Anzo are coming!" Thimus retorted.

"Stop quarrelling! Bastian and I will lay in wait for their arrival. We will howl like wolves if the riders are strangers. If Anzo and Bastian are there, we will call you! And now, get going! Hurry up!"

It took some time till two hooded riders on tired horse showed up in the hollow. Because of the dark, neither Bastian nor Ruwen could discern who the arriving men were. Howling like wolves, the two friends launched a fast attack and grabbed the reins of the horses.

The attack took the riders by surprise. The horses shied and the riders tried to escape by clapping spurs to the horses. Bastian didn't let go of the reins of the horse he had grabbed and was nearly knocked over. Ruwen was not strong enough to subdue the other horse and it broke away. In passing, the rider managed to hit him on the head with a bludgeon and Ruwen sagged. Jannes and Thimus, alarmed by the turmoil, came running down into the ravine waving long sticks. The appearance of the boys at the battle-side confused the situation even more.

Bastian tried to caution the boys, "Thimus, Jannes get out of the way. Leave the fighting to us!" Drawing his dagger he attacked his opponent, while the hooded man shouted, "Stop this, you fool, it's me, Berrit. Anzo's horse has bolted. We have to catch it before it's off with Anzo into the middle of no-where!"




I would like wish all my friends a Merry Christmas and a Fantastic Year 2009.

My friend Sean E. and I have prepared a special present for you and posted it in the no-sex-section:

"Terry and Sam – a Christmas Story"


My other story: Fate and Fortune is in the High School Section.


I would like to express my special thanks to The Story Lover and especially to B. for doing an unbelievable great job by correcting all the wrong expressions and the punctuation used by a non native English writer.

Comments, reviews, questions and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to And I would like to add, thanks for reading.