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House of Gerich is the first short-story in Remember - Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It's written by Mikael Hedberg, and includes an illustration by Rasmus Gunnarsson & Jonas Steinick. It takes place in 1774, and follows historian Klaas Gottschall from the University of Königsberg, as he investigates a fire that took place on the Zimmermann Farm in 1704, that led to the death of a Mr. Stoss, and the disappearance of a Wilhelm von Gerich.

Plot SummaryEdit

Klaas Gottschall is a historian from the University of Königsberg, investigating the fate of nobleman Wilhelm von Gerich, who seems to have disappeared during his service to the baron of Brennenburg, in 1704. At a visit at the Königsberg Magistrate, he procures documents regarding an arson that Wilhelm investigated. The fire had consumed a barn at a farm a couple of miles outside of Altstadt, where Wilhelm was stationed. Gottschall travels to the farm and speaks with its current owner, a Mr. Zimmermann, and investigates the remains of the burnt-down barn. He then travels to Altstadt to look through the church archives, where he finds out that Anna Stoss, the daughter of Dorothea Stoss who inhabited the farm during the fire, had moved to Königsberg and was still alive.

He travels to Königsberg to speak with her, and she informs him that the barn burned down in an accident where a farmhand, Emil, had fallen asleep in the barn with some lamp oil still burning. Emil had been arrested by Wilhelm, but Anna assumes that he was let go after the nobleman realises the event was an accident. Gottschall decides not to tell her about a statement from her mother which he had procured, where she frames the incident as a deliberate attempt of arson by Emil. Gottschall then travels to Brennenburg Castle to speak with the baron, where the story ends.

House of Gerich - Full Short StoryEdit

Click the "Expand" button at the right to read the full short story.

House of Gerich
 
"Altstadt has never seen much crime, but there was a dark period
spanning from the early winter of 1702 until late summer of 1704.
During these years no less than 39 men were arrested and locked up
in castle Brennenburg’s dungeons. In most cases the criminal’s family
would be banished from the land, effectively cutting the already
dwindling population of Altstadt with 86 souls. The magistrate’s
office has almost no records detailing these crimes, as most
arrests were handled by an unknown nobleman named Wilhelm.
"
Klaas Gottschall
    University of Königsberg
 
The magistrate shuffled through the documents on his
desk. Every now and then he would find something, adjust his
glasses, and try to decipher the century old handwriting.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Herr Gottschall...”
“Please, call me Klaas.”
“Herr Klaas, there doesn’t seem to be much there.”
“I’m aware.”
The magister leaned back in his chair waiting for an
explanation. Klaas reached into his bag and produced a thick
book and placed it on the desk.
“Are you familiar with Heritage by Ludwig Kleist?”
The magister feared a longwinded lecture from the
historian sitting across the desk.
“Does it matter?” he answered, realizing how rude it must
have come off. Klaas looked confused.
“Can I get you a drink?” continued the magister, hoping
he could redeem himself. He quickly got up and headed over
to a cabinet and fetched two glasses and bottle of liquor.
“Thank you – it’s just that Herr Kleist has done the most
thorough investigation into the fate of the House of Gerich,”
explained Klaas.
“Who?” The magister began to pour the spirits.
“Wilhelm, the vigilant, was from the House of Gerich.”
“Ah, of course,” said the magister, still confused.
“I want to pick up where he left off.”
“I see – where exactly would that be?”
“The book doesn’t really reveal what happened to
Wilhelm. It only briefly touches on a few of the cases he
worked on during his time in Altstadt. I want to try to find out
what happened to him.”
They both raised their glasses and nodded in a silent
cheers.
“Fair enough – what can the magistrate’s office help you
with?”
“Two things. I would like to know if there is anything
which supports the claim that Wilhelm was working for the
Baron of Brennenburg in order to quell the rise of crime.
Wilhelm remained unknown by most and Kleist argues that he
might have been working for the Baron to gain influence in
higher circles.”
“Well, that I can tell you, by simply looking at the wall.”
The magister stood up and gestured towards a wall of framed
documents.
“These are all the proclamations issued by the
Brennenburg barony since...” The magister went in for a
closer look at the document to the far left. “... since 1599 and
none of them mentions such a partnership.”
Klaas studied the handful of framed documents for a
moment.
“Excuse me, but it doesn’t really prove that there was no
deal, rather that the barony have been a quiet lot.”
“Not quiet – private. If there ever was such a deal, the
magistrate´s office wouldn’t know. My point being, I can not
help you.”
“That’s a shame.”
“You could ask for an audience with Baron Alexander.”
“I have, but haven’t heard back.”
Lost in thought, Klaas walked over to the window and
looked outside. He watched the people on the town square go
about their daily life. This is how he preferred to observe the
world, from behind a protective window pane.
“What was the other thing?” asked the magister.
“Excuse me?”
“Before, you said there were two things you wanted help
with.”
“I need the documents concerning the fire.”

Klaas stepped outside into the square. He took a deep
breath, trying to control his discomfort. His eyes jumped
across the scene, the laughing young women carrying bags of
flour to the bakery, the boy bringing out one of the horses in
front of the Inn, the priest waving to an elderly woman.
Klaas turned his head towards the sky and took another
deep breath. Open spaces always made him nervous. He knew
it was silly, but he couldn’t control it. Klaas hurried over to the
carriage and climbed inside.

The carriage headed south in search for the old farmstead
described in the documents. On Thursday, 28th of September,
1704, there was a fire which consumed a barn a few miles
south of Altstadt. It was Wilhelm’s last case. The documents
procured from the magistrate’s office contains a handful of
testimonies from witnesses, but it lacks a final statement from
Wilhelm. The fates of Wilhelm and the arsonist have never
been fully disclosed. A sheriff from Königsberg was sent to
investigate Wilhelm’s endeavors, but he returned early winter,
1704, reporting that crimes had dropped in Altstadt and that
there was no trace of the nobleman.
Ludwig Kleist, the author of Heritage, goes to assume the
best for all parties.
 
"It stands to reason that we lack information about half of
Wilhelm’s life. In 1704, when he was but 34 years old, we find the
last documents detailing his efforts. Wilhelm had for two years been
working for Baron Alexander of Brennenburg as a secret lawman.
Baron Alexander, being a knight of the prestigious Order of the
Black Eagle, must have realized that the rising crime could not be
left to the magistrate and the sheriffs in Königsberg, and acquired
assistance from the decorated soldier from Gerich. This arrangement
was most likely not administered by the King, at least not officially,
and if investigated would fall apart from a legal standpoint. In
1704, a sheriff from Königsberg were sent to Altstadt to question
Wilhelm about the civil arrests he had undertaken. It seems safe to
assume that Wilhelm was made to cease his efforts, but was allowed
to leave on his own accord, as no documents details this meeting.
Considering that the arrival of the sheriff coincides with Wilhelm’s
last case this fact seems glaringly obvious.
"
Excerpt from “Heritage”
          Ludwig Kleist
 
The carriage turned up a smaller dirt road. Klaas couldn’t
read any longer as the cart started to bob from side to side. He
thought about Kleist’s words. He really enjoyed reading
Heritage, but there were just so much speculation.
“Master Gottschall, we have arrived,” called the driver.
Klaas took a breath and went outside. Countrysides didn’t
bother him as much. As long as there wasn’t too many people
around, he could relax. There were two houses standing and
one being built. One of the men working, crossed the yard and
approached the carriage.
“Hey there!”
“Herr Stoss?” asked Klaas.
“No, there is no Stoss around here. My name is
Zimmermann.”
“I see, do you mind if I look around? I’m from
Königsberg. I’m investigating the fire.”
“Fire?”
“Yes, in 1704 there was a large fire here.”
Zimmermann laughed.
“1704? That’s almost seventy years ago!”
“Yes, I’m well aware.”
“Of course, come.” Zimmermann was still holding back
his laughter, “What’s your name, Sheriff?”
“Klaas, but I’m not a sheriff, I’m a historian.”
“Now, that sounds about right.”

The site of the fire was considered too much of a hassle to
clear, as it was still littered with pieces of burned wood.
Zimmermann wasn’t concerned as it worked just fine as a
pasture. Klaas wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but was
hoping he would turn up something. He looked around the
grassland, towards the forest and back at the farmstead. The
men were working on the house, while the driver had lit a
pipe. What am I doing, he thought. He looked at the
documents detailing the event again. He tried to imagine it
play out in front of him. The two standing houses were most
likely from Stoss’ farm. Klaas was standing where the barn
stood. The farmhand, named Emil, torched the barn with his
master inside. The fire quickly spread...
Wait a minute. The barn was really large. This must have
taken a long time. How come the farmer didn’t save himself
and how did Wilhelm show up so quickly?
 
"Wilhelm knew Emil was up to no good. He had one of his men
follow Emil that night and caught him as he torched the barn. After
alerting the family, Wilhelm’s man had fetched his master to arrest
Emil.
"
The Statement of Dorothea Stoss
 
Klaas returned to Altstadt. His own suspicions was as
unfounded as Kleist’s fairytale, but there was something
strange about the whole ordeal. He pushed open the heavy
door leading into the church. The priest was lighting some
candles as the cloudy afternoon left the church in the dark.
“Father?” called Klaas.
“Welcome, my son.”
“I need your help.”
“God answers those who pray.”
“Well, yes, this is more worldly. I need insight into the
church records. I need to know what happened to Dorothea
Stoss.”
“Happened to her? Whatever do you mean?”
“I need to know what happened to the farm after the fire,”
pressed Klaas.
“I’m not sure what you are talking about, but Dorothea
lived with her daughter, Anna, for years here in Altstadt. She
passed away. Must have been fifteen or twenty years ago.”
“Her daughter? Is she still alive?”

Dorothea’s daughter Anna married into the Koch family,
in 1718, and moved away from the farmstead. A little more
than a decade later, Dorothea moved in with Anna. The
farmstead fell into disuse and the land was left unattended for
twenty years until it was sold after Dorothea’s death.
Klaas smiled at the treasure trove of information the
church archives turned out to be. But there was still little
about the actual event or any traces of Emil the farmhand.
There was only one way to go, he had to find Anna Koch and
hope she had something to say. She was six at the time of the
fire and with a bit of luck the event had made an impression
on her.

Klaas went outside into the square, he followed the sides
so he didn't have to cross it. He felt enough excitement
already, he didn't need another panic attack. He turned down
the side street and dodged a farmer, with a cart of turnips,
heading into town. Anna was a fairly wealthy widow, living
with a maid in a modest, but well-kept townhouse. Klaas
straightened his jacket, brushed off dust from his sleeves, and
knocked on the door. The maid opening the door was a
cheerful middle-aged woman. Klaas was invited inside.
“May I offer you something to drink? Are you hungry?”
“Thank you, but no thank you. I was hoping to see
Anna Koch.”
“Of course, come, this way.”

The maid showed Klaas into the upstairs drawing room.
Anna sat in a rocking chair facing the oriel window. The room
was decorated with paintings and porcelain. A fine carpet was
splayed across the polished wooden floor. The fireplace
cracked comfortingly and immersed the room in a warm glow.
“Anna?” said the maid. “This young man wanted see you.
Would that be all right?”
“Yes, of course. What can I do for you?”
“Frau Koch, my name is Klaas Gottschall. I’m from the
university in Königsberg. May I ask you a few questions?”
“Please, have a seat.”
Klaas sat down on a robust chair next to her. He looked
outside the window. The street outside was nothing but
ordinary. One-story houses lined the opposite side of the
street, a single sign belonging to the town’s cobbler was the
only thing breaking the monotony of residential homes.
“I like watching the world go by,” said Anna.
“I feel the same.”
They sat for a moment watching the street below and the
forest beyond the town. The sun was setting and the waning
moon was rising.
“Do you remember the fire at the farm?”
“Oh, dear, I haven’t thought about that for years! Why do
you ask?”
“I’m trying to find out what happened to Wilhelm and the
farmhand...”
“Emil,” she jumped in. “He was such a sweet man.”
“Really, I’m surprised you would say that.”
“How so?”
“He killed your father.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
 
"Sometimes Emil had to sleep alone inside the barn. He was
twenty years of age, but still afraid of the dark, so I would sneak him
some lamp oil he could burn in a tin bowl. He fell asleep with the fire
still burning. Later he woke up screaming his lungs out. The barn
was on fire. The entire family quickly gathered in the yard, but
father being the man he was, decided he was going to save the
animals inside. As you well know, he never came out. Emil was
crying hysterically. I tried to comfort him, as I didn’t yet realize what
had happened. Later, that Wilhelm fellow, arrived with his men
telling Emil that he would have to come with them. Us children were
sent inside, but mother spoke to the lawmen and later wrote a
statement to the magister in town.
"
Anna Koch, formerly Stoss
 
“Whatever happened to Emil?”
“Oh, I would say he was rebuked in some manner, but it
was an accident and everyone knew so. I can’t imagine him
being punished except by his own sense of guilt.
Klaas considered telling Anna about the harsh words her
mother had written about Emil. They most certainly would
have him sentenced to a few years in prison. What could he
possibly gain from telling her, and what would she do with
such information? Klaas decided to keep his words to himself.
What is left? he thought. There is only one more place to
go – castle Brennenburg.

As Klaas’ carriage rolled through the main gate and into
Brennenburg’s courtyard, he got the sense of abandonment.
Everything was so quiet and serene. Did anyone really live
here?
Klaas shut the carriage door behind him and looked
around. The courtyard was paved in cobblestone, not the rigid
square form like at the university in Königsberg, but the more
natural stone found on a rocky sea shore. The castle towered in
front of him, a magnificent gothic structure with distinct
windows and elaborate parapets.
“Shall I wait, sir?” asked the driver.
“Please, I shan’t be long,” answered Klaas. He made his
way to the large gate and tapped the heavy door knocker with
as much grace as he could.
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