Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chapter 16 [final half]

[How Agrajes and Galvanes rescue the damsel from death, and challenge the Duke on behalf of all knights-errant.]

[Broken lances in a joust at the Bristol Renaissance Fair. Photo by Storkk.]


Agrajes and the dwarf's nephew spurred their horses a gallop and struck each other boldly with their lances, which broke immediately. The bodies of their horses and their shields collided, and they both fell in different directions. Each knight got up bravely, and with great ire, they put their hands on their swords and fought on foot.

They gave such great and mighty blows that all who watched were amazed. The swords were sharp and the knights strong, and soon their armor was so damaged that it served for little defense. Their shields were cut in many places and their helmets were dented.

Galvanes saw that his nephew fought valiantly and quickly, better than the other knight, so he was very happy, and if he had esteemed him before, now he did so even more. Agrajes had such skill that at the beginning of a battle he was so fast that it seemed he would tire quickly, but his strength endured so well that at the end, he was attacking even faster. Thus sometimes he would be underestimated at the beginning of a battle, but at its end he achieved victory.

As Galvanes watched, he saw the dwarf's nephew pull back and say to Agrajes:

"We have fought enough, and it seems to me that the knight for whom ye fight is not guilty, nor is my uncle the dwarf, because otherwise the battle would not have lasted so long, and if ye wish, ye may go, accepting that both the knight and the dwarf have told the truth."

"No," Agrajes said, "the knight is truthful and the dwarf is false and vile, and I shall not leave you until that comes from your mouth. Prepare to defend yourself."

The dwarf's knight showed his strength, but it did little good, for he had already suffered many injuries. Agrajes struck great and frequent blows, and the knight could do little except cover himself with his shield. When the Duke saw him in danger of death, he felt great sorrow, for he dearly loved him. He began to return to his castle so he would not see him die, and said:

"Now I swear that I will give all knights-errant nothing but dishonor."

"Ye fight an insane war," Galvanes said, "if ye take on the knights-errant who wish to resolve injustices."

At this time the dwarf's nephew fell at the feet of Agrajes, who pulled off his helmet, struck him several times with the pommel of his sword, and said:

"Now say that the dwarf did wrong to the knight!"

"Oh, good knight!" he said. "Do not kill me! I say that the knight for whom ye fight is good and honest, and I promise to get the damsel out of prison. But in the name of God, do not make me say the dwarf, who is my uncle and who raised me, is a liar!"

Everyone who was nearby watching heard this. Agrajes took pity on the knight and said:

"I will do nothing about the dwarf, and as for you, I believe you are a good knight, and I will hold you acquitted if ye do what ye can to get the damsel out of prison."

The knight agreed. The Duke, who had heard none of this, was now close to his castle. Galvanes took the reins of his horse and showed him the dwarf's nephew at the feet of Agrajes and said:

"He is dead or defeated. What do ye say about the damsel?"

"Knight," the Duke said, "ye are mad if ye think that I shall do anything other with the damsel than that which I have decided and sworn."

"What have ye sworn?" Galvanes said.

"That she shall burn tomorrow morning," the Duke said, "if she does not tell me who the knight was whom she brought into my palace."

"What?" Galvanes said. "Ye will not give her to us?"

"No," the Duke said. "And do not stay any longer here. If not, I shall order something done about it."

Then many men of his company arrived, and Galvanes pulled his hand off the reins and said:

"Ye have threatened us and refused to release the damsel, which would be just. For that reason, I challenge you for myself and for all the knights-errant that wish to help me."

"And I challenge you and all of them," said the Duke. "It will be a bad moment when ye enter my lands."

Sir Galvanes returned to where Agrajes was and told him what had happened with the Duke and the challenges that were issued. He grew angry and said:

"A man like that, who can do nothing rightful, ought not be lord of a territory."

And, mounted on his horse, he said to the nephew of the dwarf:

"Remember what ye promised me about the damsel, and now do all in your power."

"I will do everything I can," he said.

It was now close to vespers, and the dwarf's nephew left the battlegrounds. Then Agrajes and Galvanes left and entered a forest called Arunda. Galvanes said:

"Nephew, we have challenged the Duke. Let us wait here for him, and anyone else who comes."

"That is good," Agrajes said.

Then they left the road and hid in the thick brush, where they got off their horses and sent the squires to the village to bring back food, and they spent the night there.

The Duke was angrier at the damsel than ever, and had her come before him and told her to prepare her soul, because the next day she would be burned if she did not immediately tell him the truth about the knight, but she did not wish to say anything.

The nephew of the dwarf knelt before the Duke and said what he had promised to say, begging him in the name of God to release the damsel, but the Duke refused, for he would rather lose his estate than break his decree. This greatly troubled the knight, who wanted to do what he had pledged.

The next morning the Duke ordered the damsel brought before him, and said:

"Chose the fire or tell me what I ask, for ye shall not escape one or the other."

She said:

"Do your will, but ye shall not do what is right."

Then the Duke ordered twelve armed men and two armed knights to take her. He rode on a large horse carrying only his staff in his hand, and went with them to burn the damsel at the edge of the forest. When they arrived, the Duke said:

"Now set fire to her and let her die of obstinacy."

Don Galvanes and his nephew saw all this well, for they were watching not for this but for anything they could do to enrage the Duke. As they were armed, they prepared to ride, and they ordered a squire to concern himself only with taking the damsel and making her safe.

As they left, they saw the fire and how the damsel was about to be thrown into it. She became so afraid that she said:

"My lord, I will tell the truth."

The Duke, as he approached to hear her, saw Sir Galvanes and Agrajes coming across the field shouting:

"Let us free the damsel!"

The two knights charged at them, and their lances met fiercely, but the Duke's knights both hit the ground, and the one that Galvanes knocked down could not have been saved by a doctor. The Duke put his company of armed men between them and himself.

Galvanes told him:

"Now ye shall see the war ye began." And they charged at him.

The Duke said to his men:

"Kill their horses and they will not be able to leave!"

But the knights charged into the men bravely, striking on all sides with their swords and trampling them with their horses, leaving the Duke's men spread over the field, some dead and others injured, and those who remained fled running.

When the Duke saw this, he felt afraid and headed for the town as fast as he could, and Galvanes chased him a while saying:

"Wait, my lord Duke, and ye shall see whom ye took as an enemy!"

But he kept fleeing and shouted for help. Galvanes and his nephew turned back and found that the squire had the damsel on his palfrey and he had mounted the horse of one of the dead knights. They left with her toward the forest.

The Duke armed himself and with all his men went to the forest but did not see the knights. He split them up into groups of five to search everywhere. He went with five of them on down a road and hurried so much that at the edge of a valley, he looked down and saw them riding with the damsel. The Duke said:

"Get them now! Give them no quarter!"

They went as fast as their horses could go. Galvanes, who saw them, said:

"Nephew, it seems your defensive skills will be tested, for that is the Duke and some of his men. There are five of them, but let us not be cowards because of that."

Agrajes, who was very valiant, said:

"That is true, my lord uncle, but being with you, I would have little concern for five of the Duke's men."

Then the Duke arrived and told them:

"At a bad moment ye dishonored me, and unfortunately, not even by killing men like you shall I be avenged."

Galvanes said:

"Have at them!"

Then they galloped at each other and their lances struck each other's shields so hard that they were immediately broken, but Galvanes and Agrajes held themselves so well that they could not be moved from their saddles. Taking their swords in hand, they attacked with great blows, as knights who knew well how to do battle. The Duke's men attacked bravely, and the sword fight was fierce and cruel.

Agrajes went to attack the Duke with great ire, and struck him beneath the visor of his helmet, and the blow was so violent that it cut through the helmet and sliced his nose to the cheeks. The Duke, fearing death, began to flee as fast as he could, with Agrajes behind him, but when he could not catch him, he turned and saw how his uncle was defending himself against four men, and he said to himself:

"Oh, God, protect such a good knight against these traitors!"

And he charged at them bravely. Galvanes struck one and made the sword fall from his hand, and when he saw how he clung to his shield, he grabbed the rim and pulled so hard he threw him to the ground. He saw that Agrajes had knocked down one of the others, and Galvanes came at the two who were attacking him, but they did not wait and fled into the forest, and they could not catch them.

They returned to where the damsel was and asked her if there was any settlement nearby.

"Yes," she said, "there is the fort of a knight named Olivas who will receive us gladly because he is the enemy of the Duke, who killed his cousin."

Then she guided them there and the knight welcomed them, and even more happily when he learned what had happened. The next day they armed themselves to go on their way, but Olivas took them aside and told them:

"My lords, the Duke killed my first cousin, a good knight, and traitorously. I want to challenge him before King Lisuarte. I ask your advice and help as knights-errant who seek out great battles to remain honest and make honest those who, without fear of God or shame, fail to be so."

"Knight," Galvanes said, "ye are obliged to ask that for the death that ye speak of, if it was done wrongly, and we are obliged to help you if necessary, for ye have a just cause. We will do that if the Duke wishes to enter into battle with any knights because, like you, we despise him and have been challenged by him."

"I thank you very much for that," he said, "and I wish to go with you."

"In the name of God," they said.

Then he armed himself and went with them on the road to Windsor, where they hoped to find King Lisuarte.

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