Otto's Castle

With the help of several military trucks, we conveyed the incubators, and the computers with everything needed for our work with Frederf to the castle from the laboratory of the Archeological Institute.
From the highway, the castle could not be seen. It was obscured from the highway by a high wall topped by barbed wire. The wall paralleled the highway for about two kilometres. We arrived at a gateway, and the Jeep that led our trucks turned and stopped at a red and white barrier blocking us from the castle. A soldier came out of the sentry box to the Jeep, and saluted the officer riding in it. He looked at some papers that the officer showed him, and raised the barrier.
We drove to the castle by a narrow, winding road through a thick woods. The trucks stopped on a broad paved area in front of the castle. Several armoured cars were parked there. We disembarked from the truck.
The officer, whose name was Captain Ranak, came up to BabyJane and me.
I welcome you to your new workshop, he said. I will take you to Colonel Krips, the commander of Otto's Castle. He wants to receive you.
Otto's Castle, like the castle on Whorf peak, was built by Otto the Eighth. It is many-towered, and built from dark red rock. It is surrounded by a wide moat, which is spanned by a drawbridge.
"Otto the Eighth", said BabyJane, "was fond of building castles. This is the first time I have seen this castle."
"We do not welcome holiday travellers", said the captain, laughing. "However, the building is interesting, and has experienced many important historical events. For example, the many parties of Karl the Third".
BabyJane laughed, and explained it to me. Karl the Third had loved wine and women. He had seven wives and several hundred mistresses. Many present-day Loglanders are descended from him.
"Also famous", continued the captain, "was the siege of the castle by Baron Xrrk. The wars recorded in Xian history are small, but throughout the thirteenth century, the Xrrk family tried continuously to establish itself as the exclusive royal family. And they besieged the castle for about two years, and would have succeeded, if they had not begun to fight each other.
Colonel Krips was a tall, thin man, with long, grey hair. When we entered his office, he was busy painting a flower bouquet with watercolours. Many other watercolour pictures were hanging on the wall, very expertly painted.
"Welcome!", he said. His voice was high and effeminate. He shook our hands.
"What a beautiful lady", he said, talking to BabyJane. "Perhaps you will let me paint a picture of you. He giggled. I should add a condition. If you would like to devote a few hours to that, and your husband agrees, I would be honoured."
"I would be happy to do that", she said, "but we are not now married, but will be".
"Excellent!", he said, rubbing his hands. "I hope you both will take the evening meal with me this evening. Captain Ranak will now show you to your quarters. If you need anything, you should ask me right away."
Captain Ranak led us through many corridors and staircases.
BabyJane said to me "Colonel Krips seemed quite unexpected for a person that commands the special forces."
Captain Ranak heard this. He said "Don't be deceived by his appearance and manners. Colonel Krips has more experience than any other soldier in methods of silently killing an enemy. He also has degrees in medicine and law".
"Surprising", I said. "I could have believed that he was a professor"
"He has done that", the captain said, "however, after that he fought in Spain, in the Spanish civil war."
"But", I said, calculating the time in years.
"You probably think he is about 60, don't you. In fact, he is 83 years old".

We spent the rest of the day unpacking the equipment and arranging everything in the room that we were going to use as our laboratory. The room was situated in a tower behind the main part of the castle. We were accommodated in a comfortable suite upstairs from the laboratory. It overlooked the top of the many trees surrounding the castle.
After we connected the incubator to the computer and the other apparatus, and checked that everything was operating correctly, we went out with Hoover and Frederf in his electric cart, to explore the forest.
Captain Ranak had explained to us the parts where we should never go, and explained that they were shooting ranges, and a danger to us.
We walked along a neatly gardened footpath, and the forest was cool and pleasant. It was very peaceful there, so I was surprised that the land was used by the military. Frederf discussed botcanically the interesting plants and trees with BabyJane, and Hoover hunted rabbits, as was his custom. We happened across a small group of soldiers, running together along the footpath. The soldiers smiled and wiinked at BabyJane, and laughed when Hoover ran barking behind them.
Colonel Krips greeted us in a friendly fashion after the evening meal, and introduced us to his senior officers. "I hope that you your quarters are comfortable", he said, "and that you have found everything that you need."
"Yes, certainly", I said, "I expect that we will enjoy working here. Living in the countryside is a pleasant change from Grasic for me."
At the evening meal, I was sitting next to Major Cpavil. He had lived in France and North Africa, and was a member of the Foreign Legion, and spoke French. He explained that Loglandia had not been involved in many recent wars, so that forced officers that train Loglandian soldiers to experience combat abroad. He told me that other officers had been members of the British SAS ( a special task force) and one of them had fought with the Russian military in Afghanistan, and one had fought in Afghanistan also, but with the Afghan partisans.
"Finally", he said, "we had to be taught war by all the warlike countries. Now, please let's discuss something more pleasant"
"This castle has an interesting history, has it not", I said.
"That's true. If you hear any strange sound during the night, don't be troubled", he said. "According to an old legend,the White Tower, where you are living, is haunted."
"Oh", I said, "That's interesting. It seems that Loglandia is full of spirits".
"This ghost", he continued, "is not ordinary. it is not human-like, but a dog-like ghost. It seems there was a prince of Xia, that had a dunnowhichway dog that was devoted to him. And he died suddenly of a fever. The dog stayed constantly at the door of his room, and remained there eating nothing and died as well. One sometimes hears something scratching at the door, and doglike whining for the prince."
"A sad story", said BabyJane. "Perhaps Hoover will console it."