Doctor von Hamburgsteinhausenburg zu Vorpommern Doctor von Hamburgsteinhausenburg zu Vorpommern was quite an eccentric. Life tends to do that to the unmarried. He never got out much. People who knew him couldn't decide whether his skin was white; translucent – or a subtle shade of yellow. Not that there were many who did know him, partly due to his reputation. No respectable gentleman would harbour a secret laboratory in his attic. No one of any standing in life would wear a lab coat and rubber wellies at four in the night. And certainly none of his ancestors ever laughed in quite such a manner, bent over a clutch of chicken. Luckily Richer, as was the name his parents gave him, was none of these. It is said that life takes care of the unmarried, protects them as if they are the most valuable good in... well, life really. If this is the case, Life must have a soft spot for Von Hamburgsteinhausenburg. So much so that his cousin Death, appearing later in this story, had an eye out for him. Any creature could sense the impending doom and would flee the scene. The chicken, however, were too stupid to realise this and, blissfully unaware, were either pecking at the seeds provided – or cocking their brainless heads in the jerky fashion only chicken can perform. “Hahaha! Ze day has finally come, my good Hähnchen, zat you vill provide me with ze scrambled eggs, wizout ze bozzer of mixing zem in ze morning!”, Doctor Hamburgsteinhausenburg said in a menacing voice. The English pronunciation classes hadn't quite paid off yet. He didn't really put his heart into it, since he fashioned himself more of a man of the exact sciences. Alchemy and astrology and the sort. His father insisted he'd be an opera singer, like himself and his father before him. In a stroke of mixed fortune, both his parents died in a horrible stagecoach accident when he was eleven, leaving him the family castle and the maid to care for him. She lasted exactly nine days, four hours and twenty-three seconds in his sole companion. When asked, she doesn't want to talk about it, and, if possible, denies any involvement in the Von Hamburgsteinhausenburg zu Vorpommern household. This all left little Richer to his own devices. He enrolled himself into the Ingolstadt university. Despite his claim to the title, he never achieved any advanced degree. He didn't quite get a degree in the first place, since most of his time was wasted in the lab, working on experiments later described as horrible, fiendish, sacrilegious even by some. He didn't quite see any harm in the advanced needlework, as he called it himself. And the potato experiments turned out to be quite delicious – even if that wasn't quite what he was going for. And he never meant it to kill his polish friend, inevitably called Igor. Igor was an interesting chapter. They shared common interests, although, as Richer would put it, Igor lacked the creative mind to ever achieve greatness. Both of them had a hard time communicating with fellow-students. This was partly because Igor only spoke Polish. Richer, who only spoke German at the time, did try to fellow-students. They, in turn, ignored him, scared as they were for him. Whispering in the hallways had it that Richer once poisoned a rather successful student, after he called Richer “Von Hamburghausensteinburg”. It was said that he imbibed his lab coat with a substance so strong that it would render anyone even pointing at him catatonic. And, of course, there was the rumour about the one potato in his pocket, which he sent out to make people disappear in suspicious ways. Richer simply justified all this by stating that he was quite fond of his privacy. Igor, however, stuck with him. Since communication wasn't really possible, Richer endured his company. Igor simply learned not to point at Richers lab coat. The university always assumed Igor returned to Poland. Only Richer ever knew quite how the tabs at the anatomy lab showed one extra set of body parts at the end of the year. Sometimes, he felt sorry Igor died that fateful night. He could have used an extra set of hands like that, even though he kept them in a box in the ice room. When after 15 years, with quite a bit more insistence than was usual, the university asked him to leave, he used a good part of the family fortune to build his own lab in the attic of the family castle, schloss backstein. He did start to work on the greater enigmas of the time. After some experimentations, he did have at try at the elixir of life. He also investigated human flight, although he never got passed the stage of guinea pigs with dove wings sowed on. It never quite work to his desire. Soon, as he realised world domination was slightly beyond grasp, he started focussing on the smaller issues of life. Like a decent washing detergent, which he did find. However, as the colour of the detergent was persistently fluorescent green, it never quite caught on. Recently, he had been focussing on the problem of eggs. More precisely, scrambled eggs. Since the household maid left him so many years ago, Richer was left at his own devices to prepare breakfast. And, although he managed quite fine where the bread and butter concerned, he had a talent for screwing up the scrambled eggs (which is quite an achievement, considering the recipe). The times at which he was forced – or forced himself – to eat the charcoals smelling of the brimstone and hell fire the vicar always preached about... He had enough of it and decided that he would dedicate his time and knowledge to developing chicken which laid eggs, readily scrambled in their shells. He'd only have to break them in the morning, or so the plan went, taking for granted that they wouldn't be warm. He could warm them up, he considered. But, since the microwave oven hadn't been invented yet, he wouldn't take the chance. And so he set out. The first experiments yielded eggs, hard boiled and all, as they came out. As happy as he was with this preliminary result, this particular state of eggs was rather persistent. He tried everything he could to get them scrambled. He created a vibrating cage, in which he would keep the luckless, seasick chicken for days. He fed them Mexican jumping beans, freshly discovered in the deep jungles of Acapulco. He fed them chilli. Barley. Ginger. Nutmeg. Even scrambled eggs. Nothing worked. He attached electrodes to their dorsal guiding feathers. He attached them to their combs and earlobes. He attached electrodes to their wingtips. He removed the wings entirely. He added a few wings to a particularly unlucky one, which may or may not have been out of pure frustration. Needless to say, nothing worked. However, Doctor Richer von Hamburgsteinhausenburg zu Vorpommern was persistent. Very persistent. He started to experiment on other animals. First on the mice which, foolishly enough, inhabited his lab. Then on frogs, lizards, sheep. It occurred to him that, given the right combination of chemicals, some animals would yield misshapen births. Double-headed tadpoles. Five-legged sheep. High concentrations of ground-up pyrite and phosporite yielded particularly bloody misshapen offspring, which rarely survived more than minutes. Most sane people would be extremely alarmed by the smell alone. Richer was not particularly bothered by the limitations of sanity and saw an important breakthrough in the achieving the scrambled egg. The first few experiments on the chicken were all a complete failure. Although he did manage to create featherless chicken, he also created a lot of dead chicken. Other chicken refused to feed on the new mixture and carefully picked out the grains in between. Pretty much all the chicken stopped laying eggs altogether, defeating the entire purpose. Only after much experimentation and reading into the matter, did he discover the perfect mixture. Once he was sure of it all, he started his chicken on his latest invention – at four in the night. And, credit where credit is due, it did work. Doctor Richer von Hamburgsteinhausenburg zu Vorpommern did discover the chicken and the food which would produce the scrambled eggs in a shell. And, although the taste was way off mark, he lived happily ever after for the years that remained to him. * * * * * It was years later when all went wrong. Richer von Hamburgsteinhausenburg was working on luminous mice when the chicken-and-egg scheme went entirely wrong. Richer was fully focussed on the mice at that time. He was quite bothered by the fireflies in the summer night and the mice scuttling over the wooden floor. With a twisted mind like his, he thought combining the two would be a good idea. The caged mice would remove the necessity for the baroque five-candle chandelier. That chandelier went well with his image – but he hated having to change the candles every few hours. It was during those days that, unbeknownst to our protagonist, one of his chicken threw a spanner in the works. It must be noted that the scrambled-eggs chicken didn't quite have the lifespan of their natural counterparts. Richer, nonchalant as he was, didn't quite take enough notice in selecting the latest selection. Albeit all of them had – more or less - the appearance of hens, one of them was a cock in disguise. This, otherwise rather insignificant creature, would ultimately proof to be the undoing of our hero.