A Medieval Murder Mystery

By John Vinson (aka John the Wysard) on alt.callahans

Brave Sir Rowland rode out once upon errantry, seeking that which might come in his way. In a strait pass within the wild forest, he came upon a dreadful sight: in a clearing, amidst trampled grass, lay the body of a knight slain. Drawing anigh, Sir Rowland knew by his shield that it was Sir Boris: a cruel and wicked wight, yet nonetheless a knight of chivalry.

Though he mourned not the death of this wicked man, yet Sir Rowland was in duty bound to give him Christian buriel and to seek vengence on his slayer. As he arrayed the knight’s body, he saw no mark of sword or knife – Sir Boris had been beaten with some blunt instrument, crushing through his plate of proof and wreaking cruel injuries upon him, breaking through bones and flesh. His sword was stained with blood, so it seemed he had striven to defend himself to the harm – but not the bane – of his mysterious enemy.

Sir Rowland howked a grave in the turf, and buried Sir Boris with such prayers as were meet for the resting of his soul… though he doubted whether the luckless wight was now feasting in Paradise or, more likely, in a much hotter place. He then set himself to track the slayer, for though Boris had been a wicked man, yet he was a knight and must in duty be avenged.

By his woodcraft Sir Rowland soon found that there were no prints of man or horse within the clearing – yet there were many prints of cloven small hoofs, and tufts of… of WOOL. Even upon Sir Boris’ sword, amongst the stains of blood (which indeed smelled not like the blood of men) were there strands of wool. Perplexed, Sir Rowland set himself to follow the trampled slot where these hooves had left the clearing. Bending low over his trusty steed’s neck, he followed the hoofmarks through marsh, mire, and fen, until at length he spied a flock of some twenty sheep! One, a large ram with curling horns, had a wound upon his side, though clearly not a grevious one.

Setting his lance in seat, he spurred toward the beasts, crying a challenge. “Who are thee, vile demons in the shape of harmless beasts, that you have slain Sir Boris?”

The ram turned, and the rest of the flock drew together facing Sir Rowland, and the ram replied:

“We are sheeps that pash in the knight!”

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