Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.
Joe had finally dozed, but woke as the plane began its descent into Oslo. He was surprised to find that the Norwegian was wide awake, still watching him—and still smiling.
“Did you enjoy the sleep, Mr. Stadtler?”
Not at all, thought Joe. “Yes,” he answered aloud. “Yes, I did.”
“I am glad,” said the Norwegian, “because the train benches are not nearly so comfortable and make a poor place to sleep. Do not worry, though; the ride will be much shorter.”
“That’s reassuring.” Joe was finding it more and more difficult to hide his sarcasm.
The airplane landed on a private strip near the railway staion, and Joe was led down from the plane to a man with graying hair, waiting with his single piece of luggage. “Please come quickly, Mr. Stadtler,” the man said, handing Joe his case. “The train departs shortly.” Joe hurried behind the gray-haired man, then stopped and turned around when he realized that the Norwegian from the plane wasn’t following them.
“Aren’t you coming?” Joe called over the noise of the station. He was not thrilled about being “handed off” to yet another strange foreigner, still with no answers.
“No, Mr. Stadtler, I am afraid I cannot. I have business here in Oslo. However, I wish you a safe journey.”
“Same to you, Karl—” Joe began, but was cut off as the man he’d just met grabbed him by the arm. “Please hurry, Mr. Stadtler,” the man shouted. “One thing our trains are known for is their punctuality. We must not be late.” The pair rushed through the crowd, dodging their way to the boarding platform. A recorded voice called out in Norwegian, and Joe was pulled up onto the train just as it began moving.
Once on board the train and seated, both had a chance to catch their breath. After resting a few minutes, Joe began to ask questions.
“Where are we going?”
“First, Mr. Stadtler, I think it’s only fair to introduce myself. The man extended his hand. “My name is Karl.”
Joe had finally had enough. “I don’t believe this!” he exclaimed, standing and throwing his hands in the air. This drew surprised glances from the other passengers, but Joe ignored them and continued, his face reddening, “You people are all ridiculous. Your stone play-castle is a little strange, but I could have handled that. But then you’ve got a two-week deadline—which is completely unrealistic—and wave a gun at me. Worse yet, you can’t even be bothered to give me real names, or at least make up good fake ones!”
“But, Mr. Stadtler,” the Norwegian said slowly, unfazed by this outburst, and keeping his hand out to Joe, “my name is Karl. I am Karl Lund.”
Sitting down, Joe mumbled an apology and took Karl’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Karl.”
“Yes, a pleasure. Now, to your question: We are taking this train to Tønsberg. From there, I will take you by car to where you shall complete your work. Aside from that, I will not discuss any details until we reach our destination.”
Karl was unrelenting on this point. The trip took less than an hour, and though he would talk gladly and freely about any other subject—he was especially eager to share the beauties of Norway—Joe couldn’t pry a thing from him about the castle.