The old Count of Wolkenburg had two sons: Rigobert and Guldenhard. Rigobert, the elder son and heir to the castle, had gone with other crusaders from the Rhineland to war in Palestine. During his absence, the younger son ran the castle’s business for their infirm father.
But Guldenhard was an unsure person and quickly came under the influence of a wicked old sorcerer who had found a hide-out on the Wolkenburg. Rigobert had seen through him and would have long chased him away, but the old Count feared the sorcerer’s powers and allowed him to stay. Now the sorcerer saw his chance: “Don’t stand in your brother’s shadow, free yourself,” he made Guldenhard believe, “behave the way a Count does and it will not be to your disadvantage.”
But doing so Guldenhard attracted the wrong persons, adventurers who took advantage of his generosity and hang around the Wolkenburg without doing anything for him in return. Guldenhard ran up debts and soon he didn’t see any other way out than to put aside money from the castle’s treasury. As long as Rigobert was away, it just turned out alright, but then Guldenhard saw more and more suspicion in the eyes of his underlings.
Then a message was brought to the Wolkenburg: Rigobert and some other knights were on their way home. Guldenhard was desperate. Rigobert would see through his wheelings and dealings and chase him away in disgrace. Even worse, his creditors had repeatedly made it clear that he could not fool around with them. The sorcerer advised him to make Rigobert disappear forever. But Guldenhard shied away from that, he wasn’t ready to commit a crime, just Rigobert could not set foot into the castle again. In the middle of the night they met in the castle kitchen, they burnt Rigoberts gembeson and put a spell over him: he should be transformed into a billy goat and live forever on a nearby hill, the Geisberg (“goat hill”).
So it happened. But Rigobert, now transformed into a billy goat on the Geisberg, didn’t remain alone. The heinous deed on the Wolkenburg had not gone unnoticed. Some loyals brought him carrots and apples and built a shelter for him. In the morning the birds flew to the shelter and sang for him, and in the night the deer laid beside him and kept him warm. And more strange things happened. The nymphes in the Rhine let fogs rise from the water up to the Wolkenburg. The fogs become denser and denser and finally the castle was shut tightly within the fogs. Nobody could get in or out anymore. Shortly afterwards they ran out of food.
In his desperation, Guldenhard climbed on the battlement of the castle, ready to throw himself down. “Burn down the castle, the fire will defeat some of the fog and in the confusion we will escape”, the sorcerer shouted at him. “No,” said Guldenhard, “I have done evil things, this I have finally understood. Now I will see if there is anything that I can still do .. I will find my brother and then I will bring him home” He went out and disappeared in the fog.
After a while he arrived on top of the Geisberg. He saw the billy goat and reached out to caress him, but suddenly his brother stood before him. “Brother, I .. ” he stuttered. But Rigobert calmed him, “You see, I have learned a lot out there. Maybe it was easier for me when we were boys, I was the heir to the castle and always in the center of the attention. But it doesn’t matter who you are by birth, what does matter is who you are in your heart. It takes courage to take up your responsibility in the worst moment. Come on, brother, at home there is enough work waiting for both of us.” And so they went home, and with every step the fog became thinner until it was all gone.
And what about the old, wicked sorcerer? No, he did not get away. The witches swept him with their brooms into river Rhine, and there he caught such a bad cold that he had to sneeze for the rest of his life. And so people were warned against him, and he couldn’t do any harm any more.
A new story that I wrote myself.