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The Haunting Echoes of Humbert Birck

The Haunting Echoes of Humbert Birck

In the heart of the Black Forest, a tale was whispered among the monks of the Abbey of Toussaints, a tale that had been penned by a Father Prémontré. It was a tale that bore the title, "Umbra Humberti," and it told the curious story of Humbert Birck, a man of some standing in the town of Oppenheim, and the master of a country estate known as Berenbach.

Humbert Birck, a man whose life was as ordinary as the next, met his end in the cold month of November, 1620, just before the feast of St. Martin. His death was unremarkable, as deaths often are, but it was in the aftermath that the ordinary took a turn for the extraordinary.

In the house where Humbert had once lived, strange sounds began to echo in the stillness of the night. The new master of the house, Humbert's brother-in-law, suspected the source of these disturbances to be none other than Humbert himself. He called out to the unseen presence, asking for a sign, and was answered with three distinct knocks against the wall. The house, it seemed, had a new, unseen tenant.

The spectral disturbances continued for six months, with the ghostly inhabitant making its presence known through a variety of sounds - knocks, groans, whistles, and even the occasional lamentation. Then, as suddenly as they had begun, the disturbances ceased. But the respite was short-lived. A year later, the spectral sounds returned, louder and more insistent than before.

Finally, the master of the house and his servants, their curiosity piqued and their fear pushed aside, asked the spirit what it desired. The response, though hoarse and low, was clear. The spirit wished for the curé to visit the house, accompanied by Humbert's children. The curé, though initially unable to fulfill the request, arrived the following Monday, accompanied by a crowd of onlookers.

The spirit, identifying itself as Humbert, communicated its wishes. It asked for three masses to be said in its name, for alms to be given, and for its widow to provide for their children. It also requested that a small sum that had been misallocated in its succession be set right. When asked why it chose to haunt this particular house, the spirit claimed it was bound there by conjurations and maledictions.

The curé, along with three monks from the abbey, attempted to fulfill the spirit's requests. They said the three masses, arranged for a pilgrimage, and promised to give alms at the earliest opportunity. With these promises made, the spirit of Humbert Birck ceased its haunting, leaving the house in peace.

Yet, the tale did not end there. Five years later, in the town of Altheim, another spectre made its presence known. This time, it was a man named John Steinlin, a common-councilman of his town. His spirit, surrounded by a sombre flame, haunted a local tailor named Simon Bauh. The spectre asked for a mass to be said in a chapel at Rotembourg and for alms to be given to the poor. In return, it left a deep imprint of its hand on a wooden board, a chilling reminder of the spectral presence that once haunted the town.

And so, the tale of Humbert Birck and the other spectres of the Black Forest continues to be whispered among the monks of the Abbey of Toussaints, a chilling reminder of the thin veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.