How King Arabigo learned the troops were departing and decided to fight with King Lisuarte.
[Illustration from Roman d’Alexandre en prose, victory of Alexander over Nicolaus, made in France, 1333-1340. At the British Library.]
We have told you how King Arabigo and Barsinan, lord of Sansuena, and Arcalaus the Sorcerer and their troops were hidden in the highest and most easily defended part of the mountain, waiting for news from the scouts who continually and very secretly kept watch over the camps. The scouts had seen the previous battles very well, along with the defenses of the camps, making sure neither side could suffer any harm at night.
Up until that time neither side had been defeated and the camps seemed to be unharmed, so King Arabigo had not dared to leave the mountain since there was no way for him to fulfill his desire. Instead, his plan was to wait until the very end because he fully expected that although each side would hold off the other for a while, in the end one side would be defeated. He was very pleased because neither side seemed to have been defeated after the first battle because the more stubborn both sides were, the greater the harm that would be done, and in the end so few troops would remain that with little effort and less danger they could be dispatched, and Arabigo would be lord of all the land without anyone in it to challenge him.
With great pleasure he often embraced Arcalaus and praised and thanked him for having thought of this, promising him great favors and telling him that there could be no error in being repaid many times over for the damage that had been done and what had been lost.
And as they were enjoying their pleasure and happiness, the scouts came and told them how the troops had broken camp and returned, armed, down the roads on which they had come, and they could not imagine what was happening. When King Arabigo heard this, he immediately thought they might be departing due to some agreement. He decided he would rather attack King Lisuarte than Amadis, because if the King were killed or taken prisoner, Amadis would have little concern, good or bad, about the kingdom, and so he could take it all.
But he said it would not be wise to attack until night because Lisuarte’s men would be caught more unaware and with less danger. He ordered his nephew, Esclavor, a man very wise in warfare, to take ten knights and very stealthily follow their trail and watch carefully where they set up camp, and so it was done. Hiding in the mountain, Esclavor watched the troops traveling down in the plain.
King Lisuarte, as he traveled down the road, was always wary of Arabigo’s troops. He did not know for certain where they were, but some of the people in the countryside had told him they kept seeing men on the mountain on the side facing the sea, but they did not dare to approach any of them, and the King had not had time to look into the matter as he should have since he had enough to do in front of him. While he was traveling, as has been told, he was advised by some people in the region that they had seen men on horseback concealing themselves as they rode on the peaks of those mountains. As the King was very perceptive and of active heart, he immediately understood what it meant and that he could not be rid of those men if they were to attack without a great battle, which he feared because he saw that his men were in such poor shape due to the previous battles.
But his mighty heart did not delay in responding as required, and he had King Cildadan and all the captains called, and he told them the news he had learned about those troops, and he asked them to have all their men ride armed and in formation, in case it was necessary, so the enemy troops would find them well prepared as proper knights. They all responded that they would comply with his orders and that he should believe they would rather loose their lives than suffer any harm to their honor.
There were some who told him privately that he should let King Perion know about this because his troops were of greater number and more rested, and Lisuarte’s own troops were just the opposite, and they were concerned that they could not escape without great harm. They believed King Perion and the men on his side would understand that these were enemies to all of them, and if fate were contrary, those enemies would have no mercy on them and would not hesitate to do all the harm that they could. These men were Sir Grumedan and Brandoivas, who realized that if this were done, their lord the King would not have anyone to fear and the road to peace would be more firm and shorter between them.
But the King, who as we have told you many times always feared the losing his honor more than his life, told them that things had not reached the point at which he would wish to commit himself to his opponents, and they should think about nothing else than fiercely attacking their enemies if they came, as they had always done in the greatest confrontations in which they had been placed. Then he ordered Filispinel to take twenty knights and skirt the mountain as carefully as he could, so they would not be harmed, to learn what they could, and so it was done as he ordered.
Meanwhile he ordered the men to rest, since they had by then marched four leagues, and to refresh their animals, so that if it were possible they could reach Lubaina without any more delay. He feared an attack at night more than by day, and if the men were to rest again, they would be so fatigued it would not be possible to prevent them from disarming and sleeping, so with very few troops they could be routed. And after they had rested a while, he ordered them to remount, and he put all of the baggage and the injured in front of them, although during the days of the truce he had ordered most of the injured to Lubaina.
Filispinel went straight to the mountain and with great precaution immediately discovered Esclavor’s spies and troops. Keeping most of his men in their opponent’s sight, he sent a warning to the King so he would know they had found a few knights watching from up in the heights, and he thought the other troops were not far away. The King responded by hurrying as fast as he could so that if an encounter came, it would occur near his town, although he realized that even if they were not well protected on all sides, they would be better protected there than in the open countryside. So very soon he had moved a great distance away from the mountain.
Esclavor, King Arabigo’s nephew, when he saw that they had been discovered, sent news to his uncle saying he believed that without any delay he should come down from the mountain to the plain, for because they had been discovered, King Lisuarte would not stop until he was somewhere to his advantage.
When this message arrived, King Arabigo and all his men were resting to prepare for the night without any thought of attacking their enemy by day, and they could not arm themselves and mount their horses without a great deal of delay since they were a large number of troops. The greatest difficulty lay in traveling through the poor mountain passes, since the site they had selected was rocky and easily defended, but on the offense they found it worked against them.
So as ye hear, these troops began to pursue King Lisuarte, but before they could descend from the mountain, he had already gone a great distance, and for all that they hurried once they had come out onto the plain, they could not reach him until he was very close to the town. But Arcalaus, who knew the land, told King Arabigo not to hurry so that the troops would not grow tired. They had their opponents in sight, so it would not be possible for them to get away, and he should not be concerned if they took shelter in the town because Arcalaus knew it very well and it would be more dangerous for them to be in it than in the field, given their few men.
In the meantime it happened that by the will of God, so that those evil men would not put their vile plans into action, the good and holy hermit sent his ward Esplandian and his nephew Sarguil to King Lisuarte to let him know that the negotiations were going well, and that as soon as he could he would come to be with him in Lubaina to arrange how the four knights from both sides should meet.
When these two young men arrived at the King’s camp, they found that it had departed some time earlier, and they followed its trail and rode until they reached the place where the King had rested, and there they saw that he had continued with caution and hurry, and they hastened on their way to meet him. Before they saw the King’s army, they saw the troops coming fast down the mountain. They immediately thought that it belonged to King Arabigo, because when they were with Queen Brisena they had heard them spoken of and had seen how the Queen sent some of her men from one place to another where the army was said to be. And when they saw them coming with such might, and their lord the King with so few and such fatigued men that they would not be able to withstand the attack and were in great danger, Esplandian, with great pain and suffering, said to Sarguil:
“My brother, follow me, and let us not rest until, if possible, my lord the King will get some help so that those evil man cannot do him any harm.”
Then they turned the reins on their palfreys and returned down the road they had come from as fast as they could during what remained of the day and all night, never resting, and the next day they arrived at the camp of King Perion, who on the previous day had gone only four leagues, and they found the encampment made on a riverbank with many trees and gardens. On the side facing the mountains, Perion had placed many knights on guard because he had also heard the news from some pastors about that army and how it was moving from the place where it had been, and he was wary of it, and for that reason he had ordered guards to be placed.
When they arrived there, Esplandian went directly to Amadis’s tent and found the good hermit, who had arisen and wished to travel. And when he saw the young man’s great haste, he told him:
“My good son, for what purpose is this hurried arrival?”
He told him:
“My lord father, our haste is so great that until I can speak with Amadis, I cannot tell you it.”
Then he dismounted and went to the bed where Amadis lay in his armor, for he had spent the entire night guarding the camp and at dawn had come to rest and sleep. He woke him up and told him:
“Oh, my good lord! If at any time your noble heart has wished to do great deeds, the time has come where your grandeur can show itself, because although ye have already experienced many great confrontations and dangers, none can be as outstanding as this one. Know ye, my good lord, that the men who were said to be in the mountain with King Arabigo are riding as fast as they can toward my lord King Lisuarte. And I believe, my lord, that given their great numbers and the King’s limited and exhausted men, they cannot avoid being in great danger, so, after God, their only help is in you.”
When he heard this, Amadis arose very quickly and said:
“Good youth, wait for me here, for if I can help, your effort will not be in vain.”
Then he went immediately to the tent of his father King Perion and told him the news and asked him earnestly to give him permission to offer help, from which he could receive much honor and esteem, and he would be praised everywhere that this became known. Amadis asked for this on his knees, and he did not wish to stand until the King, as he was given to all virtue and never spent his time except on matters involving great fame, told him:
“Son, do as thou wishest, and take the lead with what men thou art pleased, and I shall follow thee, for if King Lisuarte wishes peace, this shall make him more decided, and if he wishes war, it would be better for him to be destroyed by ourselves than by others who by chance might be mightier enemies for us than he is now.”
He ordered the trumpets and bugles to sound, and since the men were all armed and suspicious of a surprise attack, they immediately mounted, each one with his captain. King Perion and Amadis had Gastiles, nephew of the Emperor of Constantinople mount, and with the Emperor’s flag they left the camp, and behind them came all the rest.
And when they were all in the field, the King told them the news he had learned and urged them not to look to the past and instead to wish to show their virtue by rescuing the King, who was in great need due to those evil men. They all agreed and said they would do what he ordered.
Then Amadis took with him Sir Cuadragante, his brother Sir Florestan, Angriote d’Estravaus, Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, Gandalin, Enil, four thousand knights, and the doctor Elisabad, who on that day as he had in the previous battles did amazing things in his profession, giving life to many of those who would not have had it without the help of God and himself.
With this company of men he took to the road, with his father the King and all the rest in their battalions following him.
But now the story shall cease to speak of them, as they rode as fast as they could, and shall turn to recount what those other Kings were doing in the meantime.