How Amadis, with his brothers and his cousin Agrajes, began traveling to where King Lisuarte was, and how they happened to go to the enchanted Firm Island to test their fate, and what happened to them there.
[Garden of the Sultan Queen in the Generalife Palace, which is alongside the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]
Amadis, his brothers, and his cousin Agrajes were with the new Queen Briolanja in the kingdom of Sobradisa, where they were very honored by her and well served by everyone in the realm. But Amadis thought always of his lady Oriana and her great beauty, which caused him anguish, trouble, and a tormented heart. His tears fell sleeping and awake, and although he tried to hide them, they were manifest to all, but no one knew why and made of them what they would, and because the cause was so important, he guarded his secret all the more carefully, as one who kept all things of virtue within his heart.
But finally his troubled heart could no longer stand to suffer such sorrow, and, with permission from the very beautiful Queen, and he and his companions set out for the place where King Lisuarte was believed to be, not without great sorrow and anguish from she who loved Amadis more than she loved herself.
After they had traveled several days, eager to arrive, Fortune was pleased to make the trip longer than Amadis had wanted or expected, as ye shall now hear.
They encountered a hermitage in the road, and as they entered it to pray, they saw a beautiful damsel who had just left with two other damsels and four squires who were serving her. She waited in the road for the knights, and when they came out, she asked them where they were going. Amadis told her:
"Damsel, we are going to the house of King Lisuarte, and if ye wish to go there, we shall accompany you."
"I thank you very much," she said, "but I am going elsewhere, and because I saw that ye travel armed like knights who seek adventure, I thought to wait and ask if some of you wish to go to Firm Island to see its amazing marvels, for I am going there, and I am the daughter of the current governor of the island."
"Why Holy Mary!" said Amadis. "By God, many times I have heard about the marvels of that island, and I have promised to go there, but until now I have not had the opportunity."
"My good lord, do not feel sad for being slow," she said, "for many others have had this desire, and when they got there, they did not leave as happily as they had arrived."
"That is true," he said, "according to what I have heard. But tell me, would it add much to our journey if we were to go there?"
"It would add two days," she said. "Firm Island is alongside the seacoast here."
"Is that where the enchanted arch of the true lovers is, which no man nor woman can enter if they have erred from their first love?"
"It is, for certain," the damsel said, "and so are many other marvelous things."
"Then," Amadis said to his companions, "I do not know what ye shall do, but I wish to go with this damsel and see the things on that island."
She told him:
"If ye are such a loyal lover that ye can pass below the enchanted arch, there ye shall see the beautiful statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa, and ye shall find your name written on a stone along with only two others, although it has been a hundred years since the enchantment was cast."
"May ye go with God," Agrajes said, "I wish to see if I can be the third."
Amadis, who felt in his heart nothing less than hope for achieving that fate, said to his brothers:
"We are not in love, but we ought to protect our cousin, who is, and with an exuberant heart."
"In the name of God," they said, "and may it please Him that it goes well."
Then the four rode together with the damsel toward Firm Island. Sir Florestan said to Amadis:
"My lord, how do ye know about the island? Though I have traveled in many lands, I have heard nothing about it until now."
"I heard about it," Amadis said, "from a young knight whom I love greatly, who is Arban, King of North Wales, who has proven himself in many adventures. He had been on this island for four days, and he tried to pass the tests and wonders that are there, but he could not succeed in any, and he left there greatly ashamed. But this damsel can tell you about them, for she lives there and she says she is the daughter of its governor."
Sir Florestan said to the damsel:
"My dear lady, I beg you, by the faith ye owe to God, that ye tell me everything ye know about that island, for the length of the journey will give us enough time."
"I shall do this gladly, as I learned it from those who remembered it."
Then she told the entire history that has been related to you, leaving nothing out, which not only amazed the knights to hear about such wonders but made them very eager to test themselves, as those whose strong hearts are never satisfied except when they achieve what others have failed to do, hoping for success and fearing no danger.
So, as ye hear, they rode until sunset, when they entered a valley and saw tents set up in a meadow and people alongside them relaxing. Among them was a richly dressed knight who seemed to be in charge. The damsel said:
"My good lords, there ye see my father, and I wish to go to him so that he shall do you honor."
Then she left them and told him to seek her four companions. He came on foot with his company to receive them, and after greetings, asked them to disarm in a tent, and said that the next day they would arrive at the castle and could try their fates. That seemed good to them, and so they disarmed, ate, and felt very well served, and rested that night.
The next morning, they went with the governor and his men to the castle, which controlled the entire island and was in fact the entrance to the island, and which was an arrow-flight wide and attached to the mainland. The rest was surrounded by the sea, although the island was seven leagues long and five wide. And so it was an island, and because of the little bit of terra firme that it had, it was called Firm Island.
They arrived and entered a gate and saw a grand palace with its doors open and many shields in it placed in three rows. A good hundred were set against a stone ledge against the wall, and above them ten higher up, and above those ten were two, and one of them was higher than the other by half. Amadis asked why they were placed like that, and they told him that they were placed according to the achievements of each knight who had tried to enter the protected chamber. Those who had not reached the copper pillar were the shields on the ground, and the ten that had reached the pillar were higher, and of the two, the lower one had passed the copper pillar, and the one that was higher had reached the marble pillar but could not pass further.
Then Amadis approached the shields to see if he knew any of them, for on each was written the name of who it belonged to, and he looked at the ten, and among them was one much higher. It had a black field with a black lion on it with white claws and teeth and a scarlet mouth, and he recognized it as belonging to Arcalaus. He looked at the two shields that were higher up, and the lower one had a blue field and a giant depicted on it, and next to it a knight who was cutting off its head, and he knew it to belong to King Abies of Ireland, who had come there two years before he had fought with Amadis.
And he looked at the other, which also had a blue field and three gold flowers on it, and he did not recognize it, but he read the writing on it, which said: "This shield belongs to Sir Cuadragante, brother of King Abies of Ireland." Only twelve days before he had tested his fate and had reached the marble pillar, which no other knight had reached, and he had come from his land to Great Britain to fight with Amadis and avenge the death of King Abies, his brother.
When Amadis looked at those shields, he doubted his fate, since those knights had not achieved success.
They left the palace and went to the arch of the loyal lovers, and when they arrived at the garden for which the arch was the entrance, Agrajes reached its base, dismounted, and commended himself to God, saying:
"Love, if I have been loyal to you, think of me."
And he passed the edge and stepped beneath the arch, and the image that was on top began to play a song so sweet that Agrajes and all those who heard it felt great delight. He reached the hall where the images of Apolidon and Grimanesa were, and they seemed to be truly alive, and he looked at the jasper and saw two names written there along with his, and the first name that he saw said:
"This venture was achieved by Madafil, son of the Duke of Borgonia."
The other said:
"This is the name of Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, son of Valladas, the Marquis of Troque."
His own said:
"This is Agrajes, son of Languines, King of Scotland."
Madavil had loved Guinda Flamenca, Lady of Flanders. Sir Brumeo had completed the tests only eight days earlier, and he loved Melicia, daughter of King Perion of Gaul, sister of Amadis.
After Agrajes had passed below the arch of the loyal lovers, Amadis said to his brothers:
"Will ye test yourselves with this venture?"
"No," they said, "we are not so subjugated by this passion that we deserve to succeed."
"Then ye two keep yourselves company," he said, "and I, if I can, will find my cousin Agrajes."
Then he gave his horse and his arms to his squire Gandalin and walked toward the arch quickly and without any fear at all, as one who felt that he had never been untrue to his lady not merely in deed but also in thought. And when he passed beneath the arch, the image began to play a much sweeter song than it had for the others, and beautiful fragrant flowers came from the mouth of the trumpet and thickly covered the ground. Nothing like that had happened for any other knight who had entered the arch.
He continued to where the statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa were and looked at them with great pleasure, for they seemed very handsome and as fresh as if they were alive. And Agrajes, who knew something about his love and who had been walking in the garden and admiring the rare things that were there, came, embraced him, and said:
"My lord cousin, there is no need from here on to hide the fact that we are in love."
But Amadis did not respond, and, taking him by the hand, they went looking around that place, which was very delectable and delightful to see.