12th June 1212
6 AM in the morning
The ducal Castle near Vienna
"Your Highness," he broke panting on the steps. "Very bad news," his first words as he had again raised half. It almost stopped my heart; I wanted to be prepared for anything that could follow these words, so I began to imagine a few scenarios. First thought: St. Stephen's Cathedral is burning, second thought: the Imperial Palace is burning, third thought: the minstrel Academy is bur ... well, that would not necessarily have been bad news, at least for me. But I could still fit it into the list of unforeseen incidents, on the same level with the Invasion of three months ago, the call to a new crusade which ,thanks to the Lord, due to the lack of interested parties, failed (making it the „Children's Crusade") or an announcement of the visit of the same bishop who tries to detect in the philosopher's stone within every stone, and ,since he was once locked up in a monastery, believes in ghosts ... especially the latter happened to be iterant, and kept me from more important things, such as the expansion of the city wall, the expansion of St. Stephen's Cathedral and the banishment of all minstrels (cough) . But never mind.
I waved vigorously to the messenger, that he would finally tell me what of the aforementioned things had occurred. Instinctively, I held my breath. "Your Highness, in Vienna there is a riot!" Oh Lord, that was really unexpected, but my cathedral is still intact! I looked at the messenger somehow confused... the look in my face must have been very evident since he went meekly on, on his own ". In the Schönlatern-alley a large crowd has gathered since the early hours of the morning in front of the bakery of the Master Garhibel" I sat up on my seat, nervously tapping my fingertips together. For almost 18 years now I have been Duke of Austria, and in almost every decision I had made my mind up clearly ... but this time I did not know what to make of it. "And upon what cause, is something known." I knew nothing else to say, but I thought it best to take active actions (and I seized the opportunity to keep the Bishop waiting). After two minutes of burning silence, I had a good excuse to start it all: "I will personally take a look at the situation." With these words I rose, and snapped my fingers: "Saddle my horse, in ten minutes I and my escort will ride to Vienna." I did not care about the somewhat bemused faces, and no one dared to bring objections anyway. But I could not complain, as I had ordered it, ten minutes later the horses were ready. I pulled on my riding boots, my gloves, and took the feather hat, which I usually wore only on the hunt (and that for a good reason). On the way through the courtyard I met the Duchess. She was on her way to the morning meeting with her ladies in waiting, which was associated with an inspection of the construction progress at the western part of the castle. She looked at me somewhat puzzled, I stood before her, and explained: "A small problem in Vienna, nothing serious," I forced a smile at her. Even if the Hungarians would have invaded I would have assured her it was nothing serious ... and she knew that too. But she left it at that.
My escort was ready, and I would not wait longer. The way from the castle in the town was not far, ten minutes later we were at the gate, and another ten minutes, we rode to the cathedral square. My appearance caused a stir, of course, though I doubt at the low level of political interest among the general population of Vienna, that absolutely everyone knew who I was ... all those for whom this was the case probably knelt down just because everyone else did so. One of my knights had ridden ahead, and was now coming around the corner of the cathedral: "Your Highness, not far to the Schönlatern-alley ..." Jackanapes ... I could have told him 'Does he think I don't know my own city?' But I just gestured to him by hand to continue the ride, while I was holding my horse with the other. With a quick movement of my hand I told the people that they could get up again, and galloped around the corner of the church. Since the last city-wall expansion was completed, it is much easier to get from one place to another, but I will not bore the reader with details of urban planning.
When I, swiftly followed by my escort, turned into the right alley, I realized that the term "large crowd" was a bit understated; "half of Vienna" would have been true too... First I gave the order to maintain peace. The municipal judge, Jacob of the Hülben, was already on site. I beckoned him to me. "Your Highness" he bowed deeply, but I snapped at him energetically. "What is the meaning of the riot could you figure something out," He drew his horse closer to mine. "I have to admit, your Grace, that, unfortunately, it cannot be easily determined what had happened here ..." I took a hard look at my surroundings, which calmed me down at once for what had happened here, obviously was not serious, at least not a revolt ... There was now a similar order as in the cathedral square. All stood, bowed in my direction, some staring up at me respectfully. I chewed on my lower lip so hard that I soon had the taste of blood in my mouth. "What's going on here?" A drop of blood splashed on the floor, I took the glove on the lower lip, but without ceasing to reproachfully look from one citizen to another. Finally one had the wise inspiration of explaining to me what had happened: "The Master Garhibel has locked himself in his bakery since this morning ..." I looked at him with a look that was half surprise and disappointment. That's it? Not that I would not have been relived but… at that moment a female voice interjected from the back row: "And it says terrible screams were urged out of the house ..." Obviously, an attempt to make the situation seem a little more serious. I could not help but smile, filled with a mixture of pity and contempt... I am doing so much for the confidence of my dear subjects ... I sighed, pushed myself out of the saddle, and handed the reins to the next best passer. Reverently everyone stepped back. Jacob of the Hülben gave me a quizzical look, I ignored him and hammered my right fist at the door, "Masters Garhibel ... we give you five minutes to open that door, otherwise we will be forced to open that door for you I... oh ... just open it! "I decided not to tell him who I was, should he have heard me, and fulfill my demands ... (or not), he would know anyway.
Contrary to all expectations, the door in question opened after 4 ½ minutes. A deadly pale baker stepped into the light, and my sight did not make it better: "Oh ... Your ... Your Highness ... what brings you here..." "Well tell me ..." He hesitated, and fell from my eyes, no wonder, because otherwise they would have stabbed him. I crossed my arms. "Your Highness ..." He seemed only now to notice the crowd what made him retreat one step further. "There was a certain incident ... and ... our maid had an accident." From now on I would have been bored, if I had not heard so clear in his voice that he was lying. I rummaged in my subconscious for right words, but finally decided to just stare at him incredulously. The effect was rapid: "The circumstances are a bit strange ... I do not know exactly what happened. She wanted to fetch water from the well, and then there was this cry, and she laid unconscious on the ground ... Lizzie! "He called back into the bakery. Something rattled, then footsteps where rapidly approaching until finally the called appeared at the door. She had no better complexion than the baker, and her reaction at my sight was not relaxed either (slowly, I think it's up to this hat ...). She made a hasty curtsey, almost falling over, and had to lean with one hand on the door frame. "Lizzie, please tell his Highness the Duke ..." Jacob of the Hülben was now standing behind me "... and the Lord municipal judge exactly what happened." Well, I was seriously excited now, obviously just like a big part of the crowd too, for it was suddenly questionable silent. Lizzie stood in the door when she realized how pervasive I looked at her, she looked at the ground: "I just wanted to get the water, so I went to the well, like every morning... and when I looked into it ..." she had to lean back "... there was this beast ... and it looked terrible." She slapped her hands over her face. A murmur went through the crowd. I must admit, it slowly began to take my interest. "Can she show us the well in question," She looked up at me, and then looked at the baker, who nodded his head. I turned to Jacob of the Hülben: "Well let's see..."
They led us, and a lot of the crowd, as many as managed to get through the door, into the backyard, to a little inconspicuous looking well. From far away I recognized a strange sulfur smell, which clearly had the well as its origin. My experience had to follow that still this does not have to mean particularly much, it could also have simply involved the failed experiment of an alchemist, which had been dropped down the well. From the other side of the courtyard some neighbors, the wife of the baker and about 10 baker assistants approached, all kept up a certain distance of safety I could not tell whether this was because of the stench, or the fear of the strange being which was said to life down there. About five minutes nothing at all happened. Most obviously expected me to take any action, and threw accusing looks at me. I wanted to do the same, when a voice instantly drew all the attention from the other side of the court: "Oh, just let it be, I' m going down there and I'm going to kill it off!" It was one of the baker's assistants who stepped out of the row and could not resist laughing. The others looked at him shocked, including myself. When our eyes met, he bowed feignedly: "Of course, if his Highness will allow" I looked behind me at Jacob from the Hülben, who was busy getting the mob ... ehm ... I mean the onlookers organized. After a short deliberation, I concluded that this was after all the best way to get clarity. I reached over and hollered: "At his responsibility," I suggested they should bring him a new rope, and before I even knew he was standing in front of the well, the rope tied around his waist and a torch in his hand. A murmur went through the crowd, the municipal judge came up to me: „Do you take this really for a good idea Highness" "Got a better one?" I whispered to him; not the best answer… but the only appropriate in this moment. We finally watched exited how the boy started climbing... he did not get very far. Maybe three or four feet, I have no idea how deep a well is, at least he had climbed just 10 seconds before the torch went out. With about another second delay came a bloodcurdling scream. I turned to those who were at the winch of the well and where staring hypnotized into the darkness: "Get him back up, quickly!" I could not hide the terror in my voice, but with this scream still echoing in their ears most of the onlookers had probably not heard me. As he had been brought to light there was some disagreement among the people, whether they should now come closer to hear, what was actually sitting in the well, or whether one should prefer to run away ... the majority chose the latter. After the already well-known burning silence, it was finally the municipal judge who spoke that one expectant word that everyone else thought, "Well…" The boy was not pale, he was almost white in the face, and he could not stand, he was barely conscious, and had to lie on the flour. He was shivering all over. When asked out by the municipal judge he stammered: "It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen, a monster, it looks like a cross between a toad and a rooster, it has a serpent's tail, it wore a crown and the eyes, they would glow yellow and it breaths out sulfur, I'm suffocating!" I knew a lot of people to apply this description ... including the former king of England, but before I could bring those people in any order, I noticed how a young man from among the passers-by came forward, approaching a few steps. He kept his gaze fixed on the well, until he realized I was looking at him. "Your Highness ..." He bowed "... I think I know what we have here." I noticed how nervous he was, and by the way, I don't believe a word he says. "And ... who do we have the honor with," He bowed again, apparently to gain time, because he did not know what he should respond: "I am a physician and scientist, and am familiar with the strange beings, and what lives in this well is nothing other than a basilisk!" He emphasized the last word just as if he wanted to tell a ghost story, however it did not miss its effect, and it was instantly silent. "An animal that has hatched from an egg which has been laid by a cock and bred by a toad ... both, the look and the breath of the basilisk are extremely toxic, already the great Pliny described this fierce creature" We both had something in common, he seemed to notice that I did not believe the story, and I could tell by the way he spoke that he was not so serious about it either. I had to smile again. "And what are the possibilities to eliminate this... mythological creature?" He thought for a moment: "The best way would be to place a mirror in front of it, so that its poisonous gaze would kill itself… and as insurance I would fill the well up to the top with stones" This manual sounded more reasonable than I had expected, at least the last part. And at this point my escort finally got something to do; without further ado I sent them with some of the passers-by to fetch the stones, while I looked after the first part being implemented. A mirror was found relatively quickly ... exactly where it was found so quickly did not really interest me, and the volunteer was not long in coming either. It was again one of the baker assistants, Hans Gelbhaar was his name. He spent some time with the baker. I did not get anything of what the two were discussing, but it looked like the boy saw himself forced to repeat the promises, probably to ensure that the baker had to keep them. "So it is then I climb down there and kill the creature, and for that you give me the hand of your daughter Apollonia." The baker gritted his teeth and looked over to the other side of the court. Besides his wife stood a girl who was now hopping by one leg to the other and nodded enthusiastically with an enamored grin in her face. I could not help but roll my eyes, but of course only when I knew no one was looking at me. Then Hans finally turned to me: "Your Highness ..." I nodded at him instantly. And the procedure started again, only this time we had to abdicate the torch because Hans needed both hands for the mirror. This time the general mood was much tenser, some of the passers-by crossed themselves, others went further and knelt in prayer on the ground. I limited my action to nervously tapping my right foot on the floor and went back to chewing on my lip. Then he went down ... a meter, two meters, three meters ... with every meter it went more silent. After an eternity we finally heard noises perceived from the well. Clinking, clanking again a kind of growl or snarl, definitely the sounds of a very angry animal. At least I waited the next few minutes (in vain) to hear concrete sounds of battle. "Pull me up!" The cry rang out from the well; finally! Apollonia winced and tightened the grip on her mother's hand. And again these incompetent idiots just stared into the depths, so it was once again up to me: "Come on!" I hissed at them until they finally put the winch in motion. By this time the stone collectors had arrived with a cart full of flagging and cobbles. "Highness, the stones" I just acknowledged the delivery with a fleeting nod, and pointed in the direction of the well. Hans just climbed over the edge of the same. Apollonia ran to meet him and flung her arms around his neck. He took her hand and ran towards me, "Your Highness ..." I saw how excited he was and cut him off. "I thank him for this… heroic deed" One could tell very easily that especially the last word adulated him. I turned to Apollonia ". She can tell her father that this matrimony has my blessing," The face of the young couple was indescribable. She threw herself at my feet: "Thank you, thank you, your Highness." "The greatest honor that could be given to us, Your Highness" Hans interjected and also went on his knees in front of me. I quickly arranged to charge the stones into the well. The more difficult task, to get rid of the crowd, I left to the municipal judge. I pointed my escort to mount again and rode ahead the way back to the castle.
The next day I found that the baker's boy, who had went down the well first, had died the same day. The following day I had a big church service ministered for which I ordered the provost of Klosterneuburg. A week later I looked again to the house of the baker. The house was now called "Basilisk House" and the baker had a large wooden sculpture of the beast attached to the front door.