Da Vinci's Cases by Alfred Bekker The scope of this book is 120 pages paperback. In the small village of Vinci, near Florence, in 1462: The watermark form of the Medici Bank has been stolen out of Master Andrea di Marco's paper mill. Shocking! Because the paper must be at the bank within three days. What is that theft all about? For Leonardo and Carlo there is only one explanation: Counterfeit! And not more than three days remain to stop the counterfeiter gang's game. Alfred Bekker, born in 1964, writes fantasy, historical novels, criminal novels and books for young readers. His historical adventures for young readers are full of suspense, stuff which even kids who hate reading cannot resist. The German-language print editions appeared in 2008/2009 in the Arena Taschenbuchverlag; Translations are available in Turkish, Indonesian, Danish and Bulgarian.
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Leonardo and the Dungeon of the Black Riders
Da Vinci's Cases, Volume 4
Published by Alfred Bekker, 2016.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
LEONARDO AND THE DUNGEON OF THE BLACK RIDERS
First edition. December 11, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 Alfred Bekker.
Written by Alfred Bekker.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Leonardo and the Dungeon of the Black Riders
Chapter 1: The Wasps’ Nest
Chapter 2: Clash of the Ragmen
Chapter 3: The Watermark of the Medici
Chapter 4: Master Andrea deep in a Fix
Chapter 5: Following the Traces of the Masked Men
Chapter 6: On to Flavio’s mill!
Chapter 7: The Man with the Black Beard
Chapter 8: The Gang
Chapter 9: In Captivity
Chapter 10: Liberation from the Dungeon of Toads
Chapter 11: The Noble Lord
Chapter 12: Locked up
About the Author
About the Publisher
Da Vinci's Cases
by Alfred Bekker
The scope of this book is 120 pages paperback.
In the small village of Vinci, near Florence, in 1462: The watermark form of the Medici Bank has been stolen out of Master Andrea di Marco’s paper mill. Shocking! Because the paper must be at the bank within three days. What is that theft all about? For Leonardo and Carlo there is only one explanation: Counterfeit! And not more than three days remain to stop the counterfeiter gang’s game.
Alfred Bekker, born in 1964, writes fantasy, historical novels, criminal novels and books for young readers. His historical adventures for young readers are full of suspense, stuff which even kids who hate reading cannot resist.
The German-language print editions appeared in 2008/2009 in the Arena Taschenbuchverlag;
Translations are available in Turkish, Indonesian, Danish and Bulgarian.
© by Alfred Bekker, Translation: Antje Ippensen, Cover: Steve Mayer
© 2016 of the digital edition AlfredBekker/CassiopeiaPress
A CassiopeiaPress E-Book
"We should get away from this place, right now, Leonardo!"
"Be quiet, Carlo!"
Ten-year-old Carlo swallowed. The humming noise grew louder and louder and became more threatening with every passing second.
His friend Leonardo had approached a wasps’ nest which was in the ruin of a barn. Already since spring Leonardo had always taken one and a half hour walk from the village of Vinci to the old barn in order to watch the wasps' nest. During this time he had observing the wasps gradually building it by using the wood of the rotten barn.
The nest was about the diameter of a children's head and consisted of a material that was apparently made of the wood – by the wasps scratching it from the wooden walls of the barn with their tiny mouth tools. The places where they had served themselves could be seen clearly. Fine chips were left in the holes.
What Leonardo was particularly interested in was the material that shaped the nest.
A few years ago he once saw an abandoned nest found by his uncle in the attic. The material had felt like ...
That came to his mind again recently because his own paper stock was completely exhausted. During the last few weeks, Leonardo had had so many ideas that had to be necessarily noted that he had already fully subscribed all back pages or gaps. He had had ideas about fantastic machines of all kinds. Airships, equipped with cannons, ships, with which you could travel underwater, but also practical things, such as an appliance which turned the roast over the fire steadily so that there would not occur any burnt spots.
But if wasps were able to make paper, you could perhaps make use of it!
Unfortunately, his uncle did not possess that wasps’ nest anymore, so Leonardo was not able to test if the nest could be unfold or cut into pieces on which you could write.
With a branch that Leonardo had found in the forest, he touched the nest.
The hum grew louder.
"They get angry!" said Carlo.
"I have to see where the entrance is!" said Leonardo. "Besides, it is already late in the year! Most wasps must be dead!"
"But you hear them humming, so they are still alive!" protested Carlo. "I know that you can chase away wasps with smoke or water – but by knocking against their nest, I am sure about this!"
"But if I use smoke or water, the paper the nest is made of will be spoiled! And that paper is the thing I need urgently, as soon as possible!"
"Does not sound to me really convincing!"
Carlo was moving back to the open barn door.
"The few wasps, which are still in the nest will be driven away easily," claimed Leonardo and knocked again against the papery outer shell of the wasps’ nest. Of course, he acted so carefully that nothing was damaged. After all, he still wanted to use the material.
The first wasp came out of the nest.
The entrance was in the shadow so that it could not be clearly seen. A second wasp followed, then a third and a fourth ... suddenly, Leonardo was attacked by at least a dozen of extremely angry insects. They buzzed around his head. Leonardo was waving his arms wildly and struck with the stick around himself. Of course, he hit none of the wasps.
Frantically beating around he ran out of the barn. Carlo had already run away.
"I've told you so", Leonardo heard his friend call – but at the moment it sounded to him as if from a distance.
The wasps seemed to attack from everywhere. Their mad buzzing and humming grew louder and louder.
"To the creek!" exclaimed Carlo. "To the creek!"
Near the barn there was a creek flowing later into the river Arno. Leonardo ran to the creek, while a wasp had come under his shirt and stung him.
The insects were still buzzing around him.
Leonardo reached the bank of the small stream and simply threw himself into the water.
He flailed and splashed around until he was convinced to have driven away the small attackers. Carlo was still on the shore, waving around his arms now with the poor. The wasps vented their rage on him now.
"Jump now!" shouted Leonardo.
In greatest distress, Carlo did so. When diving under, the wasps let him go.
He came to the surface again, and shook himself like a wet dog wanting to dry its fur.
"It’s all your fault!" snorted Carlo. "You should have listened to me!"
"Yes, yes, of course you havel known all that before!" growled Leonardo.
"Naturally! Every child knows that you should not poke a hornet's nest with a stick!"
"They stung me!" Leonardo realized. He found several red spots – especially on his arms – which were swelling now, more and more.
Leonardo cooled them in the water.
Carlo examined himself and then sighed with relief. "Nothing!" he said.
They both got out of the water, soaking. Leonardo went barefoot, but Carlo wore shoes and they squealed now at every step. So he sat down and poured the water out of them. "I will get trouble, if I arrive at home like this," he said. "You don’t know how expensive these shoes were!"
In the village of Vinci, where the two friends came from, Carlo was an exception, as most other children did not wear shoes in summer. But Carlo’s father was a merchant and rich enough to be able to afford his son using his shoes even during summer.
"Let's go in the sun, so we dry", suggested Leonardo.
"A great suggestion!"
"You have a better one? Let's go to the hill meadow. Until the evening, we get sunshine there and probably we will be dry again!"
"Maybe we, ourselves," Carlo admitted. "But not my shoes."
"Surely we will get an idea about that ..."
"A good excuse would not be bad. You always have such great ideas, Leonardo! Maybe you can be at pains in this matter and strain your brains. After all, it was you who has dragged me into the whole mess."
Wet to the skin they ran to the hill meadow, where the sun was shining even in the evening for the longest time. From that point, you could watch the whole environment.
The grass was quite brown and dry. In addition, sheep had probably grazed the meadow just recently so you could see the naked ground at many places. Finally, Leonardo and Carlo found a place where they could stay. Leonardo carefully touched the wasp stings he had suffered. They were swelling gradually and aching immediately when lightly being touched.
"Your own fault," Carlo said. "How can you even be so stupid and irritate wasps?"
"I thought it would be worth a trial!"
"Well, now you see the result!"
"Thank you! I like my friends being so compassionate", said Leonardo.
"Pah – have you taken care of me? The wasps attacked me as well! In their opinion, we were both the attackers who wanted to destroy their home!"
"You escaped without a sting!" Leonardo protested.
"Yes, but I was just lucky, that’s all."
A short while they were still grumbling at each other.
Then there was silence for a while. Leonardo's thoughts weren’t even in the wasps’ nest. Only the painful stitches reminded him of it again and again. Otherwise, he thought about the roast turning machine that he had tried to construct. A wind wheel should be got in motion using the warm air created by the fire which would turn the roasting spit.
The hotter the fire, the faster the spit would be turning, then, so it really could not happen that the roast would burn.
However, difficulties arose during the construction of the turnspit – difficulties Leonardo could not foresee. First, his grandfather, with whom he lived, was angry because Leonardo had taken the roast spit and worked with it in the dirty horse stable, and secondly, the windmill he had made of wood, had been too heavy. It just did not turn around, because the warm breeze was not strong enough.
I will have to work out something else! Leonardo thought. It was really most important to find paper at last, in order to fix his ideas.
"Tell me, why was it so important to drive the wasps out of the nest?" Carlo asked finally, after a while neither of the boys hadn’t even said a single word. Meanwhile, however, Carlo’s anger about the incident with the wasps seemed to have disappeared.
"That's what I told you," said Leonardo – still a bit irritated. "I do need paper. But it’s hard to get it at the moment and additionally, it’s incredibly expensive and my grandfather said I would have to treat it in a more saving way. Meanwhile, however, I really have fully subscribed every little snippet with anything, indeed."
"And if you erase something from your old drawings?" asked Carlo. "Is that a solution?"
"What's that for a solution if you please?" he asked. "I would be forced then to decide which of my ideas I shall destroy and which ones I may keep."
"Well, and if there is no other way?"
"I just could not make such a decision", was Leonardo convinced.
"That's easy," said Carlo. "You leave the good ideas on the papers and erase the less good."
Leonardo laughed hoarsely. "Yes, if it only was so easy! How can I know if an idea that might not seem to be so important to me now could be exactly what I need in a few years?"
"Well, I cannot tell you about this, of course," admitted Carlo. "How would it be if you left me to choose?"
"Absolutely not," Leonardo shook his head. "No, erasing is not an option. Instead, I have to get new paper from somewhere!"
"My father says that paper actually is scarce everywhere. Not in stock," Carlo said. "Even in Florence you can barely buy it."
"And what’s the reason for this?" asked Leonardo.
"The paper mills cannot produce fast enough to fulfill the demand. That’s also the reason for the high price of paper."
The clothes of the two boys had not yet become really dry, but they finally decided to go back to Vinci. When reaching the road to Empoli, they met a man pushing a large handcart along the road in the sweat of his brow.
This road led slightly uphill, so the way was quite tiring for him.
When he saw Leonardo and Carlo, the man first jerked as if being frightened. But the next moment he looked relieved. He stopped, let the cart go for a moment and stretched his arms. Then he rubbed his shoulders which were obviously hurting.
He was tall and strong, had a dark beard and was wearing a gown of gray linen, which had been patched several times. This gown reached down to his knees. As underwear, tight-fitting pants could be seen. His shoes seemed to be intensively worn through.
Certainly, he was not a rich man, Leonardo immediately recognized. Rather, he looked like a farmer from the area.
"You startled me!" exclaimed the man. "Why do you sneak so that a normal traveler would think you were about to attack him!"
"I'm very sorry if we scared you," Leonardo said.
"That was not our intention."
Leonardo saw that the cart was loaded with nothing but rags. The man, therefore, had to be one of those ragmen who moved from village to village collecting those clothes which were so worn that they could never been repaired.
The man looked around and looked back – as if he expected that someone was following him.
Then he looked at Leonardo and Carlo sequentially in detail. He frowned. "Well, what kind of bath did you take?"
"We ... we fell into the water," said Leonardo. He was probably just too embarrassed to tell the true story.
"Since you're already wet anyway, you perhaps do not mind sweating a bit, guys."
Leonardo and Carlo looked at each other a little perplexed.
What for heaven’s sake the ragman could mean by that?
But before one of the two boys could ask for more details, the whimsical man came to the point, after he had once again looked around quite nervous. "You two seem to be quite vigorously ... Because I'm quite in a hurry and need some strong boys who can help me to bring the cart to the new paper mill of Andrea di Marco, as soon as possible."
That paper could be produced out of rags, Leonardo had already heard. And as lately the demand for paper was so great, the paper mills sprang up like mushrooms. "You come from Vinci", concluded Leonardo.
The ragman shrugged. "So what? Is it no matter from where I’ve recently come. Rags are collected everywhere. "
"Yes, but the ragman who comes to Vinci, is someone else. His name is Martino and I cannot imagine that he would allow a strange ragman to collect in his area."
"Martino?" asked the ragman. "I know him well. His district is so large that he cannot manage to do the work alone any longer. That's why I help him. But if this charge of rags is not fast enough in Andrea di Marcos's paper mill, then I will get in big trouble! Production runs day and night and the gears trampling the rags into pulp stand still only on Sunday, because the bishop insisted on it! Otherwise Andrea would probably even run his mill on holy Sunday and would not even interrupt during the Holy Mass if he was the only one to decide this!"
"But if they do so much work in Andrea di Marco’s paper mill – then I do not understand why paper is running so short at the moment," said Leonardo.
The Ragman knitted his brow and the middle of his forehead formed a deep furrow. "There is no time that you pester the living daylights out of me! Will you help me or not? You will receive half of the sum that Andrea pays me for the charge of rags!"
Leonardo and Carlo exchanged glances. But the decision was already made.
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