A Slender Knight
Have you ever been to Germany? More specifically, the city of Cologne? I'd recommend it. Good food, hospitable people, and a pretty interesting culture. For example, if you drive through the southern arterial road and follow the river Rhine, you'll find a turning leading to Neumarkt. The city seems strangely empty around here, even at rush hour, which is weird as Neumarkt is home to a fair few shops and businesses.
Park-up and wander around. Get your bearings, too: these little winding streets can get pretty confusing. Especially if you're running.
When you feel comfortable, try to find a local, and ask directions to Kronenhaus Gallery. Now hold on a moment. Don't roll your eyes: I'm not really into art and history either, but you will find this interesting. Kronenhaus Gallery specialises in the history of Cologne. They have a small library section downstairs and a series of paintings upstairs which chart the development and various conquests that Cologne has seen over the past thousand-or-so years.
I must stop here. I'm going to drop the pretence, because I'm getting tired of pretending.
You're looking for 'him', aren't you? That wraith in a suit; the so-called 'Slender Man'. The Germans call him Der Gro'ß'mann. I bet he took someone from you, right? Or maybe you've been seeing him, and you just know that he will come for you soon? Whatever your story is, Cologne is the key. I'm not going to pretend that this will answer everything, or even give you specifically what you are looking for, but it might just help, and any piece of information you can get on that creature is a potential weapon.
Head upstairs, first. I know that there are many old photographs, some obvious fakes, some potentially real, which claim to be the oldest confirmed image of the Slender Man. Some of them, like the Hans Holbein drawings from the 1500s, might be him.
Forget it. All of it. The Kronenhaus Gallery contains pictures of the city from the Medieval era, and he is in almost every single one.
To the casual observer, it might seem to be a smudge, or a crudely-sketched tree, but we know what we're seeing. The most explicit is a painting of unknown origin, depicting the Archbishop of Cologne standing beside a huge group of knights, about to depart on the crusades. In the background, behind the Archbishop, there is one knight partially obscured from view, wearing what seems to be a white helmet, and appearing taller than even those in the foreground. A lot of people would shrug it off: “it's just a trick of perspective”, or “he's riding a horse, so he's bound to be tall”. Look at the proportions; there's no way that he's on a horse. He is so tall, most of his torso is actually visible over the heads of the other knights. That lance he's carrying, too? It's almost twice the height of anybody else in-frame. How could anyone use that from horseback?I actually brought along a magnifying glass and examined the Slender Man's head in the painting, by the way. This might interest you. It's not a helmet; it's a mask made of Ivory. Weirdly though, when you think of knights and masks, you think of daemonic visages to frighten the foe and lower morale. His mask simply looked like a human face: at-peace with everything and with its eyes shut, as though it were asleep or in-prayer. It was almost angelic, really.
Perhaps that's why he appears to have no face: the ivory mask has worn-down so much, over the years, that it just appears a blank slate of yellowed skin. Anyway, sorry, I should let you figure all that stuff out for yourself: I'm just going to give you the facts.
There's something else to see, if you've got time. Head to the basement archive and ask to see their shipping logs. Even back in the Medieval Era, records of trade and tax were stringently kept. You ever see V for Vendetta? “One thing is true of all Governments – their most reliable records are tax records”, sound familiar? Whatever, anyway: Find the book pertaining to the year 1098 and flip right to the beginning. It's not in great condition: the book suffered some damage when the gallery was destroyed during the Second World War. On this page, you might find that a ship, returning from the Crusade, brought a cargo of prisoners and slaves into the city. However, at the end of the entry, in a footnote, the record-keeper notes that in addition to the official cargo (for which the tax paid is recorded), the ship carried “...einen sehr großen Käfig, in dem einen Häftling...”
Roughly translated, it means “...a very tall cage, containing one prisoner...”
There is no further record of a fee paid for this cargo, or where it went.
There's one more picture, by the way. It's kept in a dark, attic-room to protect it from damage via exposure to light, and photography is strictly forbidden. It's a fragment from a tapestry, about six feet across and two high, depicting the knights drawn from Cologne, fighting in the Crusades. I don't know if you've ever seen tapestries like that, but they often appear as a 'storyboard' – telling a tale through a sequence of smaller pictures. This section shows the fight for what seems to be the bridge of a castle: the Crusaders shielding themselves from arrows and slings as they try to fend-off scimitar-wielding 'heathens': that sort of thing. Anyway, towards the end of the story, the knights appear afraid, shrinking back behind their shields. Before them (bizarrely, dressed in Crusader Armour), what appears to be the Slender Man stands, facing a large group of the defenders and holding a lance in his skeletal hands.
The final image shows an empty bridge, and castle ramparts. No Turks, no Crusaders, no Slender Man. Even the bodies are absent. The curator told me that he believed the tapestry unfinished: that its creator had perhaps died before its completion.
I think that you and I know differently.