Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.]
They passed the night in great fear of the stormy sea and the Endriago, fearing tha it would leave a nearby castle where it often took shelter. When dawn came, the doctor sang Mass, and the Knight of the Green Sword listened with great humility, praying to God to help him in the peril he wished to place himself in His service, and if His will were that death came for him, to have mercy on his soul.
Then he armed himself and had his horse and Gandalin’s brought out to land, and told those who on the ship:
“My friends, I wish to go to that castle, and if I find the Endriago there, to fight with it. And if I do not find it, I shall see if the castle is suitable so you can lodge there until the sea is calmed while I search for the beast in the mountains. If I survive, I shall come back to you. If not, do what ye deem best.”
When they heard this, they were more frightened than ever because even at sea their spirits were not enough to endure the fear of the Endriago, for it was a greater peril than all the harm and danger of the sea’s great storms. Even greater was the courage of that knight who of his own free will was going to look for it and fight it. And truly, all the feats at arms that they had heard of and seen him do seemed like nothing in comparison to this.
The doctor Elisabad, as a man of letters and of faith, reminded him that these things were outside nature and men, and he ought not to fall into the sin of suicide. But the Knight of the Green Sword answered that if he were to think that way, it would keep him from going to land to seek dangerous adventure, as he had done in the past. If it were known that he had failed to fight it, all his other deeds would be held as nothing and in dishonor. So he ought to kill that evil and horrible beast or die, as men had to do, leaving their homes for foreign lands to earn praise and honor.
Then he looked at Gandalin, who while he was speaking with the doctor and with the men of the ship, had put on armor that he had found so he could help. When the knight saw him on his horse weeping, he said:
“Who has given thee to do such a thing? Take off thy armor, for if thou wishest to serve and help me, thou already knowest that it ought not to be by losing thy life but by keeping it so that thou mayest recount my death in the place where the principal cause is and in whose memory I would receive death.”
He made Gandalin disarm, and went with him to the castle. Inside, they found it empty except for birds. Inside were good buildings, although some had fallen into ruin. The main gates were strong and tightly closed with heavy locks, which pleased him. He sent Gandalin to the galley to tell them they could find good shelter in the castle. They all immediately came although they were very afraid of the Endriago, but the great storms of the sea had not ceased. They entered the castle, and the Knight of the Green Sword told them:
“My good friends, I want to search this island for the Endriago, and if it goes well, Gandalin will sound this horn. Then you will know that it is dead and I am alive. If it goes badly, ye need do nothing. In the meantime, close these gates and bring some provisions from the galley, for ye will be safe here until the sea becomes calm.”
Then the Knight of the Green Sword left them, and they all wept. But the tears and bitter wailing of his dwarf Ardian cannot be recounted, for he tore out his hair, struck his face with his hands, beat his head on the walls, and called himself miserable because his sad fate had brought him to serve such a man. A thousand times his lord had come to the point of death as he watched him undertake astounding deeds, and now, finally, he would attempt to do what the Emperor of Constantinople, in all his great power, did not dare to try to put right. As his lord set out across the countryside, he climbed the stone stairway to the top of the castle wall almost senseless, so much did he ache for his lord.
The doctor Elisabad ordered an altar be made with all the relics he had brought for Mass, and had everyone take lit candles, kneel, and pray to God to protect that knight for the service he was offering Him, for he was protecting them by knowingly exposing himself to perils that clearly offered him death.
As ye hear, the Knight of the Green Sword rode with the courageous bearing that his brave heart provided him, and Gandalin rode behind him weeping, believing that the end of his days would come before sundown.
The knight turned to him and said, laughing:
“My good brother, do not hold so little hope in the mercy of God nor the sight of my lady Oriana as to be in such desperation. Not only do I have before me her pleasing memory but her actual person, and my eyes see her, and she is telling me to protect her from this evil beast. So, my true friend, what dost thou think I ought to do? Dost thou not know that my life and death are in hers? Hast thou advised me to let her be killed rather than for me to die before thine eyes? May it not please God for thee to think that way. And if thou dost not see her, I do, for she is right before me. And as her mere memory has allowed me to do such things that have brought me great honor, as thou knowest, how much more does her actual presence give me.”
As he said this, his courage grew so much that he would have felt great disappointment if he did not find the Endriago. He encountered a valley amid wild mountains and peaks with many caves, and he said:
“Shout, Gandalin, because that may cause the Endriago to come to us. I beg you that if I were to die here, find a way to bring to my lady Oriana that which is wholly hers, my heart. Tell her that I send it so that I will not have to explain to God why I had something with me that did not belong to me.”
When Gandalin heard this, he not only shouted, he tore his hair, and weeping, he cried out, hoping for his own death before seeing his lord whom he loved so much die. And soon they saw the Endriago come out from the peaks, much braver and stronger than it had ever been before, because the devils had seen that the knight put more hope in his beloved Oriana than in God, so they entered it and made it mightier and more irate, and they said:
“If we escape alive from him, there is no one else in the world so daring and so strong as to attack us again.”
The Endriago approached so enraged, spewing smoke and flames from its mouth, and gnashing its teeth and foaming at the mouth, and making the scales on his body and his wings rattle so loudly that it was terrifying to see. So felt the Knight of the Green Sword, especially when he heard its shrieks and frightening growls. Although it had been described as fearsome, compared to its actual sight, the words had been nothing. When the Endriago saw him, it began to leap and bellow, as one who had spent a long time without seeing a man, then it charged at them. When the horses of the Knight of the Green Sword and Gandalin saw it, they began to flee, terrified, and the men could hardly hold them as they whinnied. When he of the Green Sword saw that he could not approach by horse, he dismounted quickly and told Gandalin:
“Brother, take this horse so that we do not lose both of them, and observe the fate that God wishes me to give to this horrible devil. And I beg Him by my faith in Him to guide me as I destroy it so this land may be returned to His service. And if I must die here, may He have mercy on my soul. In that case, do as I told thee.”
Gandalin could not answer. He was weeping too hard because he saw death close by unless God miraculously saved him. The Knight of the Green Sword took his lance and protected himself with his shield. As a man who had already accepted his death, he lost all his terror and as fast as he could, he ran toward the Endriago.
The devil, when it saw him, charged at him, blowing fire from its mouth and smoke so black that they could hardly see each other. He of the Green Sword entered the smoke and ran close enough to strike it with his lance and, by a great blessing, hit an eye. The Endriago grabbed the lance with its claws and mouth and tore it to pieces, and the iron blade and a little of the wood shaft lodged in its tongue and gills, for it had charged so hard that it had impaled itself on them.
It leaped to grab him, but lacking an eye, it could not, because the knight had protected himself with the courage and lively heart of one who saw death itself. He put a hand on his fine sword and came at it, which was distracted as blood flowed from its eye and mouth. With its great panting and puffing, most of the blood entered its throat and almost choked it, and it could not close its mouth or bite. The knight ran to its side and stuck a heavy blow on its scales, and it seemed like he had struck a hard rock, and he cut nothing.
When the Endriago saw him so close, it tried to grab him with his claws, but it only grasped his shield, yanking so hard that the knight fell hands on the ground. Since he was without a shield and his sword could not cut the beast, he knew well that his deed would be nothing if God did not help him destroy the other eye, for nowhere else could he injure him. Like a furious lion, all fear lost, he came at the Endriago, which was weak and flagging, for it had lost a lot of blood and an eye.
All things in service of the devil fail and perish, and Our Lord was now angry because the vile enemy had acquired such power and had done evil to those who, although they were sinners, believed in the holy Catholic faith. He chose to give the knight special strength and blessing, for without it no one would be powerful enough to dare to confront such great danger. In that way he would put an end to that which against all order of nature had done so much harm to so many, among others its ill-fated mother and father.
The knight aimed for the other eye with his sword, but God guided it into the opening of one of its nostrils, which were very wide. With great strength, the knight lunged and the Endriago leaped at him, and the sword entered all the way into its brains. But when the Endriago saw him so close, it took him in his arms and with his strong, sharp claws tore open all the armor on his back and the flesh and bones down to his entrails.
But it suffered from all the blood in its throat and from the blow of the sword into its brains, and above from all the sentence that God had passed over it and which could not be revoked. It could not continue to hold him, opened its arms, and fell to one side as if dead and senseless. When the knight saw that, he pulled out his sword and shoved it into his mouth as hard as he could many times, and finally killed it.
And I wish ye to know that before its soul left it, the devil passed out of its mouth and flew through the air with a great thunder, which those who were in the castle heard as if it were close by. It terrified them for they knew that the knight was now in battle with the beast. And although they were locked in a fortification and its doors barred and chained, they felt unsure of their lives, and if the sea had not been wild, they would not have dared to wait there any longer. But they turned to God with many prayers to save them from that danger and protect that knight who was doing such extraordinary feats in His service.
Since the Endriago was dead, the knight drew back and went toward Gandalin, who was already riding to him, but he could not remain on his feet and fell unconscious next to a small stream that flowed there. Gandalin arrived, saw the terrifying injuries, and thought he was dead. He fell from his horse and began to shout, pulling out his hair. Then the knight came to a bit and said:
“Oh, my good brother and true friend! Now thou seest that I am dead. I beg thee for the upbringing that thy father and mother gave me, and for the great love I have always had for thee, to be as good to me in death as thou hast been in life. And when I am dead, take my heart and bring it to my lady Oriana. Tell her it was always hers and she had it in her power since the first time I saw her, and while it was enclosed in this troubled body, not for one moment did it have any desire but to serve her, and with it she shall have a reminder of he who possessed it although it was not his. There where my soul shall be, it shall find rest with her memory.”
And he could speak no more.