“Open the gate, servant. Quickly!”, I shouted. My manservant gave me an odd look but eventually complied and hurried around the vehicle to open the door. With some effort, I crawled out and stretched my limbs. Putting on my harness while driving our horse had not been an easy feat and I had to take a break to rearrange my equipment. A red overshirt covered my chainmail which hung heavily on my shoulders. A leather belt around my waist strapped both shirt and mail firmly in place.
We took no longer than half a minute, for the time was near. With my sword in hand, I started for the entrance: a large wooden gate decorated with flags and emblems, leading straight into the City of Kaltenberg. Immediately, two fiends came our way. From the signs on their chest, I could deduct they were part of a band of warriors called ‘Security’. I grinned, took the shield out of my servant’s hands and prepared for battle.
“For love”, I shouted. “Halt”, screamed my servant. Nervously he pulled out a note from his wallet and flashed it in front of the security. The trolls read the paper and grudgingly made way. Time to triumph there was not, as my manservant pulled me through the entrance.
A knight in the city of Kaltenberg
Aah, the beauty of the city of Kaltenberg. From distant and strange countries people flock to the medieval fair as there is none so large and popular in the surroundings. Beautiful old-fashioned buildings house all sorts of extraordinary gear. One has just entered the premise and one sees an armor and swords shop, a jewelry stand, plenty of clothes for sale and much more. Everything one can wish for.
To the left the houses part for smaller wooden cottages, all made up in an old, medieval style. The inhibitors spared no expense to create an inviting and inspiring atmosphere. A boar’s head, a knight’s armor or carefully engraved wooden boards hung from the shops. People were eating dishes out of wooden plates on wooden benches with wooden spoons. Small lanterns hung from long chains and illuminated the stands where people in their finest medieval outfits sold the most exquisite goods.
And the food… It was impossible to leave Kaltenberg with an empty stomach. Exotic or German, medieval or new, you could find all sorts of delicious meals within the walls. A large bonfire roasted juicy pieces of meat and large sausages dripping with grease while also heating up a gigantic pot of stew. If you were still not satisfied, there were plenty of small cottages selling crêpes or other sweet dishes.
The battles of the knight
Only one shop could halt my run towards the arena: a small corner was the home of exotic looking bottles of the finest mead. A sorceress lured me with a small glass of honey wine. It took all my powers of self-control, all my determination to resist. Of course, my servant pulling my arm helped as well. “For love”, I uttered to the amazed sorceress and ran on in the direction of the mighty castle of Kaltenberg.
Unfortunately, our ordeal was not over yet. A parade of bizarre and magical creatures blocked our way. Shiny crystal balls rolled over the arms of a dancing man as if they were guided by witchcraft. Another spit out a burst of fire. They were accompanied by an army of knights, one looking more ferocious than the other. In the distance loomed the arena high and large above the gathered crowd. “For love”, I shouted, demanding free passage. My hand moved once again to my sword. “No”, shouted my manservant, “this way, noble knight”. We moved swiftly around the parade and arrived safely at our destination, the marvelous arena of the Kaltenberger Ritterturnier.
The arena of the Kaltenberg knight tournament
The tournament had already started. Knights on horses stormed over the sand and crashed into each other with swords and spears. The crowd cheered and applauded when a knight in golden armor unseated a black knight in a fountain of wood splinters. There must have been thousands of spectators gasping at the acrobatics of the skilled riders. One of them was my future queen.
We hurried to the small castle, the entrance to the arena. “Noble sir”, my servant stopped the leader of the knights, “we have arrived. My lord is ready”. The man glared at me and my servant and replied: “no, you’re too late. It can’t be done anymore”. “Please, good sir”, my servant replied, “we could not help it. Please let him go through”. It was to no avail. The man turned his back and left us miserable and disappointed.
A brave knight is not stopped that easily.
A brave knight is not stopped that easily. I saw how the door to the arena opened for knights returning from the battlefield. “For love”, I shouted and I stormed past the knights into the arena. It is difficult to say who was most amazed. Me, who suddenly felt the weight of thousands of eyes on me, the narrator of the tournament who was speaking to the audience, or the audience itself who did not understand the meaning of this new knight in the arena. For a few moments, it was silent while I looked around. Large flags placed around the central part of the arena fluttered in the wind. Spread out on the field, a dozen knights, banners, and spears in hand gaped at me. I must admit. For a moment I lost my tongue.
The narrator touched his ear, as if spirits whispered words only he could hear, and spoke loudly. “This year we have a special. We would like to ask Katharina Grüber to come forward into the ring.” Nobody moved. The public remained silent. “Miss Grüber, if you are there, please come forward.” My heart beat so fast, I thought it would jump out of my chainmail but there finally she came. Wide-eyed and slightly pale, she came down the tribune. “Miss Grüber”, the narrator continued while he walked towards me, “this knight here has something to ask you”.
When she stood before me and finally recognized me, I ignored the look of despair on her face and went down on one knee. I grabbed the ring from my pocket and uttered: “my love, would you do this humble knight the honor to be his wife?” The silence that followed weighed heavier than all my armor combined but when she nodded yes, I grabbed her in my arms and under the cheers of the public, I could finally call her my queen.
Many years later
“And that, my children, is how I proposed to your mother.” With open mouths, the children looked at their father. The now slightly balding man sat on the tip of his chair, close to the fireplace in their living room and smiled triumphantly at his children. “Did you really do all that?”, the oldest one asked. “Of course”, boasted Hans. He gesticulated wildly with his hands and prepared to thicken the sauce of his story even more, when he saw his wife entering the room, a knowing smile on her face. “Eh. That is indeed what happened, yes”, Hans hesitated, “now go and play children. Enough stories for today”.
As the children ran off playing knight, Katharina Grüber came near and kissed her husband softly on the cheek. “Funny how you always seem to forget mentioning you were not allowed in the show anymore because you were half an hour late, which was because you were too busy drinking beers with your ‘manservant’ best friend, just to get your courage up”, she smiled. “That’s not the important part of the story”, he mumbled and returned her kiss. When Katharina exited the room, he got up from his chair and walked to the sword and shield, hanging above the chimney. A shiver ran down his back when he put the sword in the air and whispered: “for love”.