Once upon a time in the castle of Vastseliina there lived a warlike master. He fortified the castle very well so that the enemies who several times tried to besiege it, had to give up every time. They only heard a harsh laughing from the walls when leaving the castle. As the time went by, defending the castle seemed to the master a pointless waist of time: the walls were high, the trenches deep and the faithful servants always on guard. And he started to ride off to search battles near and far. During his absence, the master appointed his loyal servant to act as his substitute.
Once again the master gives orders to clean his armour, to whet his sword and to saddle the horse. He intends to gallop far away, to Rome, and from there to cross the sea and to go to punish the Moslems. The master believes that he will not be back before two years. He calls his servant and gives him orders and instructions.
Finally he holds out a little box and gives a warning: “Keep it safe! Keep it under your pillow during the night and in your pocket during the day! Keep the box as if it were your eyes and the most precious treasure. When I return, you’ll give me the box personally. Only do not open the box – you or anybody else! My revenge will be terrible!“
The servant promises to follow the orders and the master goes to the war.
The weeks passed, then months and finally years.
Every day the servant looks at the precious box, every day his curiosity increases. Finally the desire to open the box beats his fear. Secretly he takes the box out of this pocket in the corner of the yard and has a peep under the cover. He should have never done it …. Whirring! A bird flies out of the box, makes some circles around the castle and swishes away like an arrow.
What to do now? The promise is broken, the trust breached and the fear of revenge gnaws his heart. The same night the master arrives, his horse is tired, he jumps from the saddle, covered with blood and deathly pale. The servant, afraid, goes to see his master, offers cold beer, invites to take a warm bath and heal his wounds.
The master has no time for fiddle–faddle. Barks at the servant: “Why did you break your promise? How could you let that bird out? It was my enemy who flew across many seas to fight me – and he beat me! All beacause of you!“
Even before the servant can open his mouth for an apology, in a flash the sword cuts off his head. The master rides away without giving a second look to the castle, without appointing a new substitute, gives no orders to the guards of the castle.
Soon the rumours start to run: Vastseliina is without the master; the guards are feasting and become fat and idle. The enemies, who once tried to besiege the castle, hear the stories and they find that it is the time for vengeance.
Soon their army reaches the walls of the castle where once they had to leave, ashamed. The enemy charges the cannons and blows the horns. But no answer from the castle, no arrows flying… Astonished, they go to see the gates and find them wide open. They enter the castle, see some sleeping guards …. All the cellars are empty, as the guards have eaten everything. They set fire to the castle and for this times the battle is over.
The flames are already licking the roofs. Once the clouds of smoke clear away, the master arrives in a hurry. Some enemy soldiers have stayed to witness the fire and now they besiege the master, threaten him with lances and swords. The old master is awakening, he stretches himself, grabs the sword, flourishes it and the heads are flying. Then he escapes somehow and leaves the castle to its destiny. But he finds no peace – goes from one battle to another, seeks for oblivion but finally finds only death.
The winds and waters break the castle of Vastseliina, people carry loads and loads of stones for their buildings. But the old people tell that every seven year, in Midsummer night, the master of Vastseliina arrives on his black horse to see his ancient home and to weep for the former glory. He stands for the moment near the ruins and disappears then as if swallowed by earth ….