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Hey, has anyone told you a legend about me, the ghost of Klaipėda Castle? No? Then come closer and listen to my tale and the lesson it teaches. It will take you back to the times when the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the masters of the Teutonic Order were fighting over the rule of the city, which was ravaged by fires.
Once upon a time, a wooden castle was built on the southern horn of the Danė River and the city of Klaipėda began to grow. Named Memelburg by the locals, after the German name for the river Nemunas, the castle is now known as Klaipėda Castle. It was the end of the sixteenth century and a soldier, Hans von der Heide from Dithmarschen, was guarding this castle. I spotted him and decided to give him a fright… I mustered all my supernatural powers, lifted the moat bridge and lowered it all the way to the rampart. Truth be told, it was no ordinary bridge – it was made of riveted iron and decorated with chains. It drew the gaze of passers-by and soon the locals started calling it the Chain Bridge. Standing by the bridge, my long black cloak blowing in the wind, I took a step closer towards the young man standing by the castle.
In my strong Saxon dialect, I asked him “Why are you standing here?” The soldier replied: “I am standing here by the will of God and my most gracious lord.” To this I countered: “That’s what God commanded you to say,” and asked again: “Do you have enough with which to stuff your faces in your den there?” Hans replied: “Yes, thank God, we have enough to eat and drink.” Then I remarked: “But you will still be short of grain and firewood.” As I said these words, I swung my cloak and jumped down – I disappeared instantly, though I did hear the fortifications creak. The soldier stood motionless, gaping at where my silhouette had been just a few seconds ago.
Weeks went by but Hans couldn’t strike out my long and terrifying cloak from his mind. One night, Hans von der Heide was performing his usual guard duty at the castle. Suddenly, I appeared out of the water and said: “Honourable soldier, this is your kingdom’s final hour. My prophecy will now be fulfilled, and the herd will not have…” Before I could finish my fateful curse, I felt my voice disappear and my body become paralysed.
This was God’s punishment for spreading darkness in the world. Frozen, I saw with my own eyes how the city was reborn, the port flourished, and the people of Klaipėda lived without hardship – every day people bustle around me and admire the bridge I created, which can easily be turned and passed by ships.
And so I’ve been left to stand here until the end of time. I can assure you – you should not be afraid of me, befriend me. If we become friends, I will prophesy your success and prosperity. And perhaps, one day, God will forgive me.
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