We are so excited that you are going to watch our castle. While a lovely place, it is ancient and haunted, so it has a few quirks. Unfortunately, our Steward was murdered last Michaelmas by brigands, so much of the day-to-day logistics will fall to you.
Doors, keys, and moat
The drawbridge is self-explanatory. The portcullis can stick, especially in hot weather. You just need to jiggle it a little. If it gets stuck high up, there’s a long lever leaning against the guard tower. You can leave it open during the day, but the area does have an issue with frequent low-level raids between rival petty kingdoms, so it is worth putting down at night if you don’t want to wake up to unfamiliar knights in your bedchamber looking for loot. You can also store special valuables in the keep, and retreat there in case of attack. It contains some light arms, and we replenished the wood supply in case you want to make some hot oil for defense.
Don’t worry about the moat; it pretty much takes care of itself. We’ve had a bad streak of dead crocodiles, but don’t fret if you find one floating belly up. Just let the village witch know, and she’ll collect it. She uses its teeth and claws for unspeakable midnight rituals. She’s super nice.
The ghosts don’t eat or ever leave the castle, so they might be freaked out that we are gone. Expect a moderate amount of moaning, rattling of chains, appearing in vaporous form, emerging from tapestries, etc. They should settle down after a week or two. The “Red Lady” can manifest real blood, which can get pretty messy. Honestly, the easiest thing to do is just let the hounds in to lap it all up, but if that grosses you out, there’s some kitty litter in the library by the astrolabe.
Hounds, hawks, and steeds
We employ a Master of the Hounds and a Master Falconer, and they work more or less independently. Our Marshall, who oversees the stables, will probably be in and out at least twice a day, updating you on the horses and the love affairs of the grooms and whatnot. He is chatty. We keep him because he’s an absolute genius with the horses, and no one else can work with Bucephalus. Maybe stick to riding any other horse besides Bucephalus. Yes, he’s enchanted and can fly, but if you are not pure of heart, riding him is certain death. There’s a lovely black palfrey named Carbonel we highly recommend. He is a delight to ride, although lacking in stamina, which should be perfect for you since you are cursed to venture no further than a mile from the castle.
Trash, recycling, and compost
Throw everything in the moat.
In the library, pull out the red copy of Guillaume le Clerc’s Bestiary, and the shelf will swing sideways, revealing a passage to the kitchen. Just inside, you will find a torch that will inexplicably be illuminated, enabling you to pick your way along the damp stone hallway. Expect ghosts.
Our dungeons are currently almost unoccupied since we’ve moved on to punishing our enemies with ironic curses. The last resident is Albert, who wouldn’t leave. He gets three gruels a day.
The Fairy Queen
Once a year, the Fairy Queen, who cursed the first inhabitant of the castle, will appear in a golden chariot drawn by thirteen swans. She will expect a lavish feast and rich presents of gold and jewels, and after dinner will give you three chances to guess her age. If you get it right, the curse will be broken, and you will be free. If you don’t, you will live forever, unable to die or leave the castle. The only other way out is to invite some guests over and then get them to switch shoes with you. As soon as they put on your shoes, they will take on the curse, and you will be free. You know this, of course, since we just did it to you. The Fairy Queen is gluten-free, by the way.
Please send all our correspondence to our new address in San Diego. We will be traveling for a while, spending the money we have raised by selling the pearls and diamonds we sewed into our cloaks the night we escaped from your totally understandable fury at being cursed by flying out of the castle yard on the backs of those giant crows. We arranged that escape with them weeks earlier, and they were right on time. All they wanted in return were twenty-five family-size bags of Cheetos. Amazing deal. So, yep, highly recommend the giant crows. You can text them if you want to hire them for your own escape after a century or so of guessing.
It is a really marvelous castle. Should take you a decade or so to explore it all thoroughly—there are some fun secrets that we decided not to spoil. Oh, and I almost forgot: in one of the tower rooms, there’s a mirror with a black velvet cloth over it. DO NOT remove the cloth and look in the mirror. Trust us on this one.