There is a tale I used to read when I was young which I always remember on Halloween night. The tale was written by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, a Spanish romantic writer (famous for his poetry) when he is living in Soria (a northern Spanish town) and was published in the newspaper “El Contemporáneo” in November the 7th in the year 1861. The tale was “El monte de las ánimas“, something I can translate to “The spirit’s mountain”. You can read it complete in Spanish here and in English here. I read it when I was young and I love this ghost tale… Let me tell you what it’s about.
There is no date in the legend, but the context and references indicate that, probably the story occurred during the XV century at Soria, a northern town and province in Spain crossed by Duero river. In this tale, Alonso, the youngest son of Count Borges was having fun in a hunting party with his cousin Beatriz, sister of Count Alcudiel and both their parents and servants.
It wasn’t late but Alonso unexpectedly demanded to return. When Beatriz asked why, he told her that they were at the Spirit’s Mountain and it’s supposed to be enchanted. He told her about an ancient story about a time when the King summoned the Templars to defend the city on the side next to the bridge over Duero river. That was an offense to his Castilian nobles, who thought they would have been able to defend their beloved city alone. The Templars closed the mountain, and allowed no one to hunt there, except themselves. Soon the rivalry between the Templars and the nobles of the town turned to hate, and hate soon led to battle. The local nobles took their horses and weapons and assaulted the mountain and Templars’ chapel. Both nobles and knights died in a bloody battle in the mountain. All corpses were buried in the mountain the following day, but many of them were partially devoured by wolves. After that, the mountain and the Templar’s chapel were abandoned. Since then, every year on All Soul’s Night, it’s said that the souls of the dead come back to continue their battle…
The hunting party returned home and then Alonso and Beatriz started talking. Alonso was secretly in love with her, and he knew she will soon leave and probably he will not see her again. So he wanted to give her a present so she can remember him forever. He expected her to give him a present too, so he can remember her. This is no such a thing as an “innocent” gift, as Beatriz said in the tale: “to accept a gift is to incur an obligation”. It’s like him asking her to be her girlfriend, but in a such “polite” way. She didn’t want to accept, but Alonso convinced her. So she accepted his present, but when he asked about a present from her, she told him she wanted to give him her blue scarf. But she had lost it in the mountain.
Alonso was frigthened about going to the mountain alone to recover the scarf, but he wanted to prove his love for her. She made fun of him in a subtle way, smiling with indifference as he told her his good reason for not going to the mountain this night. Hurt in his pride, Alonso left the house alone to recover the scarf.
The time passes. Beatriz is alone in her room thinking about all those ghost’s stories Alonso told her and started to be worried about him. She cannot sleep. Soon she started to hear noises, steps approached her room and ghostly noises as the wind cries in the window. She covered herself with bed covers and pretended to be asleep. Beatriz was shaking under the blankets and prayed.
The night is over. With the first morning lights she woke up laughting at herself for being scared. And suddenly she saw it… the blue scarf was over her prayer stool, torn and stained with blood.
Later that morning, when the servants opened the door of her room to sadly tell her that Alonso had died in the mountain, devoured by wolves, they found Beatriz pale and rigid. She was dead from fright.
A long time later, a poor hunter who was lost during All Soul’s Night in the Spirit’s Mountain, told a strange tale about skeletal knights, ghosts, and a pale woman wandering Alonso’s tomb barefoot…
That’s all. So remember, if you visit Spain, and go to have a walk in the mountain and forest near Soria, be careful if it is All Soul’s Night…