How Amadis, at the Island of the Vermilion Tower, was seated on some rocks overlooking the sea and speaking with Grasandor about his lady Oriana, when he saw a ship coming, from which he learned news about the fleet that had gone to the islands of Sansuena and Landas.
[Map of Crete made in 1495 by Henricus Martellus Germanus. At the British Library.]
As ye hear, Amadis and Grasandor were at the Island of the Vermilion Tower resting, and Amadis often asked about his lady Oriana, who was always in his desires and thoughts. Although he had her in his power, he had not lost a single bit of the love he had always felt. Instead, now more than ever his heart was subjected to her, and with greater concern he meant to follow her will, which was caused by the great love between the two.
This was not by accident, unlike many who more quickly than they fell in love come to abhor one another. Rather, Amadis and Oriana were so affectionate and their thoughts, and so honorable and in conformation with good conscience, that their feelings continuously grew, as it does for all those whose love is based on virtue. But we all generally pursue the opposite, and our desires tend more toward the contentment and satisfaction of our base desires and appetites rather than toward what goodness and reason oblige us.
We should always hold that in mind and keep it in our sights, knowing that if all sweet and delicious things were placed in our mouths, when the sweetness had passed, bitterness would remain. As a result, not only would sweetness be forgotten, our desires would be so altered because of the final bitterness that we would feel great distaste toward the beginning, so we can well say that the glory and perfection of anything is in its conclusion.
Then if this is so, why do we fail to recognize that dishonorable actions, whether in love or anything else, at first bring sweetness and in the end bitterness and repentance, while virtuous actions of good conscience that at first are harsh and bitter in the end always yield contentment and joy?
But in regard to this knight and his lady we cannot separate the bad from the good nor the sad from the joyous because since the beginning their thoughts always pursued the honest ending where they now found themselves. And if one or the other suffered worry and anguish in no small amount, as this great story recounts, do not believe that in the end they received sorrow or tragedy from it but instead great ease and joy because they remembered their powerful love so often that it made them see each other as if they were actually before their eyes, which gave great remedy and consolation to their welcome anguish, so by no means they wished to lose that sweet memory.
But let us cease to speak of these faithful lovers both because the tale would never end and because a great deal of time has passed and will pass before other similar lovers will appear of whom such a great recounting can be written.
And so as Amadis was speaking with Grasandor about the things he found most agreeable, it happened that as they were sitting on some high rocky peaks over the sea, they saw a small ship coming directly to the port, and they did not wish to go until they knew who was in it. When it reached the port, they sent one of Grasandor’s squires to find out who had docked. He promptly went to find out, and when he returned, he said:
“My lords, the majordomo of Madasima, the wife of Sir Galvanes, has come on his way to the Island of Mongaza.”
“Then, where is he coming from?”
“My lord,” the squire said, “they say he comes from where Sir Galvanes and Sir Galaor are. And I could not learn more.”
When Amadis heard this, he and Grasandor descended from the peaks and went to the port where the ship was. And when they arrived, Amadis recognized the majordomo, who was named Nalfon, and told him:
“Nalfon, my friend, I am very glad to see you because ye bear news from my brother Sir Galaor and about Sir Galvanes, and I have heard nothing about them since they left Firm Island.”
When the majordomo saw him and recognized him as Amadis, he was amazed to find him in that place, for he was well aware that the island belonged to the giant Balan, the greatest enemy Amadis had because he had killed his father. He immediately disembarked and knelt before him and wished to kiss his hands, but Amadis would not give them and instead embraced him.
The majordomo said:
“My lord, what adventure has brought ye here to these lands so far from where we left you?”
Amadis told him:
“My good friend, God brought me here for a cause that ye shall learn about later, but tell me everything that ye have seen concerning my brother and Sir Galvanes and Dragonis.”
“My lord,” he said, “praise God that I can tell you they are very well, and I can give you news ye will enjoy hearing. Know that Sir Galaor and Dragonis left Sobradisa well supplied and with many men. And my lord Sir Galvanes joined them with all the men he could from the Island of Mongaza in the high seas at a rock they used as a meeting point, which is called the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel. I do not know if ye have heard of it.”
“By the faith ye owe to God, majordomo, if ye know anything about that peak, tell me, because Sir Gavarte of the Fearful Valley had told me that when he was ill, traveling by sea, he passed the foot of the peak of which ye speak, and his illness kept him from ascending it and seeing the many things there, and those who had seen them told him that among them was a great test, and all the knights who have attempted it have failed.”
The majordomo said:
“Everything about it which I could learn from men’s recollections I shall gladly tell you. Know that the peak received that name because a damsel lived and ruled there who labored to learn magical arts including black magic, and learned them so well that she acquired all the knowledge she had wished. And when she lived there she made a dwelling, the most beautiful and fine ever seen, and often it happened that many ships were anchored around that peak that had been passing through the sea from Ireland, Norway, and Sobradisa to Deep Island and the islands of Landas.
“Those ships could not leave unless the damsel permitted, loosening the bonds of enchantment that had bound them fast. She was accustomed to take from those ships whatever she pleased, and if knights traveled in them, she would hold them as long as she liked, and she would have them fight each other until they were defeated and even killed, for they could do nothing else, and from that she took much pleasure.
“She did many other things that would be long to recount, but as it is a very sure thing that those who deceive are in turn deceived and mistreated in this world and in the next, falling into the same traps they had set for others, at the end of some time in which this evil damsel had passed her days amid such riches and happiness, believing that with her wisdom she had penetrated the great secrets of God, she was by His permission betrayed and tricked by someone who knew nothing of such things.
“It happened that among those knights she brought there was a man born on the island of Crete, handsome and extremely valiant at arms, and twenty-five years old. The damsel fell in love with him with so much affection that he made her lose her senses. Neither her great wisdom nor resistance could rein in her will, which was so disordered and defeated that she could not keep this man from becoming lord of what until then no man had possessed, which was her person. With such pleasures she spent some time with great joy to her heart, and he more for what he hoped to get from it than for her beauty, for nature had embellished her with little.
And so lived that damsel with her beloved knight, but he, believing that it did him little benefit to be lord of a place so strange and distant from the world, began to think about what he could do to escape from that prison. He thought that sweet words and a loving expression, along with the agreeable acts in which love consists, even when they are feigned, would accomplish much to disturb and confuse the judgment of anyone in love. He began to appear much more subjugated and impassioned by love than before, both in public and in private, and he urged her to cease to believe that he did so due to the power of her enchantments, instead only because his wishes and desires made him so inclined.
“At such insistence, she believed that she possessed him completely, and judging by her own subjugated and compelled heart, she believed that he loved her as much as she loved him, without guile, so she left him free to do whatever he wished. When he saw himself freed, wishing more than ever to leave that life behind, one day he was speaking with the damsel as they looked out over the sea. As he had many other times, he embraced her with a show of great love, then he threw her from the peak and with that great fall she was dashed to pieces.
“Having done that, the knight took everything he found and all those who dwelled there, both men and women, and he went to the island of Crete, leaving that peak unpopulated. But in a chamber in the damsel’s largest palace he had to leave behind a great treasure, they say, which neither he nor anyone else could take because it was enchanted then and still is until this very day.
“And some men, who in times of great cold when dragons take shelter, have dared to climb the peak, have said that they reached the doors of that chamber but could not enter, and that on one door are inscribed letters red as blood, and on the other letters that spell out the name of the knight who will be able to enter. To win that treasure he must first pull out a sword that is thrust up to the hilt between the doors, and then they will be opened.
“That, my lord, is everything I know about what ye have asked.”
Amadis, when he heard this, spent a while thinking about how he could accomplish what so many others had failed to do. But he did not speak of it at all, and instead asked Nalfon about his brothers and friends. He replied:
“My lord, when all the fleets met there at the foot of that peak, they headed toward Deep Island. But their arrival could not remain very secret, and soon everyone was warned by some men who had been stationed in the sea, and the entire island was incited by a first cousin of the dead king.
“And so when we arrived at port, all the island’s men came running, and we fought a great and perilous battle against them, they on the land and we in the ships. But finally Sir Galaor, Sir Galvanes, and Dragones jumped onto the land despite their opponents, and with the help of many of our men, they caused such destruction that eventually they pushed the enemy from the beach, so we had a place to disembark from our ships.
“Then all of us together attacked so fiercely that the island’s men could not fight back, and they retreated. But the things that Sir Galaor did no man could recount, and he recovered all the fame he had lost during the long time of his illness. Among those he killed was their captain, the King’s cousin, because of which we were soon able to push all his men into the town, which we surrounded on all sides.
“But they were all men of low rank and they had no leader, for most of the princes of that island had died with their lord the King during the rescue of Lubaina, and the rest were taken prisoner, and they saw that we controlled the countryside and they had no chance of getting aid. They immediately offered an agreement that assured them that if they surrendered, they would be able to keep what they had and possessed, and so it was done.
“Not a week after our arrival we had won the entire island and proclaimed Dragonis as King. And because my lord Sir Galvanes and Sir Galaor were injured, although not badly, they decided to send me to my lady Madasima and to Queen Briolanja to tell them the news. And I, my lord, came here to see Madasima, my lady’s aunt, whom she dearly esteems and loves because she is a very noble lady of great quality, but I did not come with the thought of finding you here.”
Amadis took great pleasure in that news and gave many thanks to God because such a victory had been given to his brother and those knights whom he loved so much. And he asked Nalfon if they knew anything about the deeds of Sir Cuadragante, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and the knights who had gone with them.
“My lord,” he said, “after we had won the island, we found on it some people who had come from the Landas Islands and from the city of Arabia, thinking that they would be safer there, since they knew nothing about our arrival. And they said that before they had left, there had been a great battle against a nephew of King Arabigo, the men of the city, and the island, but in the end those from the island were destroyed and defeated, and that they knew nothing about the rest.”
With that news, they all went happily up to the castle, and Amadis spoke with the giant Balan, who had still not arisen from his bed. He told him that he needed to leave there without fail, and asked him to order that Darioleta and her husband be restored everything that had been taken from them including the ship in which they had arrived so that they could go to Firm Island, and that they should also have the pleasure of traveling with Balan’s son Bravo and his wife so they could see Oriana and be with the other damsels of high estate who were there until the time for his son to be made a knight, and that he send them with the honors due a man of such high estate.
The giant told him:
“My lord Amadis, just as my will and wish until now had been to do thee all the harm I could, now my thoughts are the reverse, and I love thee with a true love and I consider myself honored to be thy friend, and what thou orderest shall be done immediately. And I, when I can get up and am disposed to labor, wish to come to see thy court and that island and to be in thy company all the time that thou findest agreeable.”
“May it be done as thou sayest, and know that I shall consider thee forever as a brother for thy valor and for thyself, and for being of the family of Gandalac, whom my brothers and I consider a father. And give us permission to go, for we wish to leave tomorrow, and do not forget what thou hast promised.”
But I wish you to know that Balan did not make that journey as quickly as he thought. Instead, knowing that Sir Cuadragante and Sir Bruneo were besieging the city of Arabia and needed additional men, he took as many as he could from the island and from his friends’ islands and went well equipped to help. As a result the siege was brought to its conclusion with great honor. And he never left them until the realms of both Sansuena and of King Arabigo were won, as the story shall recount farther on.