Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chapter 57 [middle part]

[How Oriana won the prize of the wreath, and Macandon was knighted, and she and Beltenebros left London, and what happened to them on the way to Miraflores Castle.] 

[Illustration for Bernger von Horheim's songs in the Codex Manesse.] 

Once the test of the sword had been finished by Beltenebros, as ye have heard, the King ordered the Queen and all the other ladies in the palace take the test of the wreath of flowers without any fear about what might happen. If a lady were to win, she would be more loved and desired by her husband, and if a damsel, the glory would be hers for being the most loyal of all.

Then the Queen came and put it on her head, but the flowers did not change from the way they had been. Macandon told her:

"My lady and Queen, if your husband the King won little with the sword, it seems ye have repaid him well."

She turned around ashamed with nothing to say, and next the very beautiful Briolanja came, Queen of Sobradisa, but she won no more than the Queen. Macandon told her:

"My very beautiful damsel, ye ought to be loved more than ye love, according to what ye have shown."

And then four princesses came forward, daughters of kings: Elvida and Estrelleta, her sister, who were very lively and beautiful, and Aldeva and Olinda the Discrete, on whose head the dry flowers began to become green, and so everyone thought she might win, but although they waited, they did nothing more. When she took it off, they became as dry as they had been.

After Olinda, more than a hundred ladies and damsels tried it, but none of them achieved what Olinda had, and to all of them Macandon said things of jest and amusement.

Oriana, as she watched it, had been very afraid that Queen Briolanja would win. And when she saw her fail, she felt great pleasure because her beloved would not think that Briolanja's love would be worthy, for she seemed extremely beautiful, more than any other lady or damsel she had seen in her life, and if she would not lose Beltenebros to her, then she would lose him to no one.

When she saw that now no one remained for the test, she gestured to Beltenebros to bring her forward, and when they came to the wreath, she put it on her head, and the dry flowers turned so fresh and beautiful that there was no way to know one side from the other.

And Macandon said:

"Oh good damsel! Ye are the one whom I have been seeking for forty years, even before ye were born."

Then he told Beltenebros to make him a knight and asked the damsel to give him his sword by her own hand.

"Do it now," he said, "for I can wait no longer."

Macandon dressed in white clothing that he had brought with him and donned the white arms of a new knight, and Beltenebros made him a knight according to custom and put on his right spur, and Oriana gave him an especially fine sword that he had brought.

When the ladies and damsels saw him, they all began to laugh, and everyone heard Aldeva say:

"Oh God, what an extraordinary young man and how extraordinarily well he looks, more than any other new knight! He must be very happy to be able to be a new knight for the rest of his life."

"Why do ye say that?" Estrelleta said.

"Because of those clothes," she said. "By their looks, they ought to last as long as he will."

"May God make it so," the damsels answered, "and keep him as handsome as he is now."

"My good ladies," he said, "I would not exchange my pleasure for any measure of yours, for I am more measured and youthful than ye are measured and modest."

The King was pleased by what he had said, for what they had said had not seemed proper.

When this was done, Beltenebros took his lady and said goodbye to the Queen. She said to her daughter, whom she did not recognize:

"Good damsel, since it is your will not to have us know you, I beg you to ask favors of me from wherever ye may go, which shall be gladly given to you."

"My lady," Beltenebros said, "I know her as much as ye do, although I have traveled with her for seven days, but from what I have seen, I tell you she is beautiful and has such hair that it has no reason to be covered."

Briolanja told her:

"Damsel, I do not know who ye are, but from what ye have shown of your love, if your beloved loves you as ye love him, this would be the most beautiful thing that love has ever brought together, and if he is wise, it shall be so."

Oriana took great pleasure in what Briolanja had said. With that, they said goodbye to the Queen and rode off as they had come, and the King and Sir Galaor left with them. Beltenebros said to the King:

"My lord, take this damsel and honor her, who well deserves it, for she has honored your court."

The King took her horse by the reins, and Beltenebros spoke with Sir Galaor, who had no desire to hear anything about friendship with him, for he had already sworn to fight with him. When they had ridden a while, Beltenebros took Oriana and told the King:

"My lord, remain here with God, and if ye would have me be one of the hundred in your battle, I shall gladly serve you."

The King was very pleased by that, and embraced him and thanked him, saying that he would lose much of his fear to have him at his aid. And so he and Galaor turned back.

Beltenebros entered the forest with his beloved and Enil, who carried his arms, very happy that their venture had ended so well, with him bearing the green sword around his neck and she wearing the wreath of flowers on her head. So they arrived at the Fountain of the Three Streams, where they saw a squire on horseback come down a nearby mountain. When the squire arrived, he said:

"Knight, Arcalaus orders ye to bring this damsel before him, and if ye tarry and make him ride and get you, he shall cut off both your heads."

"Where is Arcalaus the Sorcerer?" Beltenebros said.

The man showed him beneath some trees, and another man was with him, and they were in armor with their horses beside them. When Oriana heard this, she felt so frightened that she could barely remain on her palfrey. Beltenebros came to her and said:

"My damsel, do not fear, for if this sword does not fail me, I shall protect you."

Then he took his arms and told the squire:

"Tell Arcalaus that I am a foreign knight and do not know him and have no reason to obey him."

When Arcalaus heard this, he was irate, and he said to the knight who was with him:

"My nephew Lindoraque, take the wreath that the damsel wears, and it shall be for your beloved Madasima, and if the knight defends her, cut off his head and hang her from her hair in a tree."

Lindoraque immediately mounted and left to do so, but Beltenebros, who had heard him, rode forward. Although he saw that the other knight was very big, for he was the son of Cartadaque, the giant of the Forbidden Mountain, and of a sister of Arcalaus, he held him as nothing for the great arrogance with which he came. Beltenebros told him:

"Knight, ye shall not pass further."

"Ye shall not make me fail to do what my uncle Arcalaus has ordered me to do."

"Now," Beltenebros said, "though ye are as arrogant as he is evil, try to do what ye can."

Then they met and struck each other so hard that their lances were broken. Lindoraque was thrown from his saddle, and he carried a piece of the lance in his flesh, but he got up promptly with great courage. He saw that Beltenebros was approaching to attack, so he tried to protect himself from the blow, but he tripped and fell on the ground, and the iron of the lance came out his back, and he died immediately.

When Arcalaus saw that, he quickly mounted to help him, but Beltenebros came at him and made him miss with his lance when they met, and as they passed, he struck such a blow with his sword that Arcalaus's lance and half his hand fell to the ground, and only his thumb remained. Seeing himself thus, he began to flee, with Beltenebros behind him, but Arcalaus threw off the shield from his neck, and with the great speed of his horse, got so far ahead that Beltenebros could not catch him.

So he returned to his lady, and ordered Enil to take the head of Lindoraque and the hand and shield of Arcalaus, and to go to King Lisuarte and tell him what had happened.

That done, he took his lady and went on his way, and rested a little at the spring. When night came, they went to Miraflores, where they found Gandalin and Durin, who took their beasts. Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark met them at the wall at the entrance to the garden with great joy in their spirits, as those who, if some misfortune were to have happened, expected nothing but death.

Mabilia told them:

"Ye bring beautiful gifts, but I tell you that they were purchased with the great anguish of our spirits and many tears from our hearts. Thanks be to God for the good He did you."

And so they entered the castle, where they supped and rested with great joy and happiness.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chapter 57 [first part]

How Beltenebros and Oriana sent the Damsel of Denmark to the court to learn about the guarantee they had asked of the King, and how they went to the test and won honor above all others. 

[This sword, known as the Ainkhürn-Shwert or the Unicorn Sword, at one time belonged to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1390-1467). It is made from a narwhal tooth, which in the Middle Ages was often believed to be a unicorn horn. Philip founded the chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece, and the sword became part of the order's treasure. It is now held in the Secular Treasury at Kunsthistorisches Museum in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.] 

The next day they send the Damsel of Denmark to London to learn the answer the King had given to Enil, and to tell the Queen and all the ladies and damsels that Oriana felt ill and would stay in bed. The Damsel left immediately on her errand and did not return until quite late.

She was delayed because the King had gone to receive Queen Briolanja, who had arrived in London, and who brought a hundred knights to search for Amadis wherever his brothers would want to send them. She also brought twenty damsels dressed in black, just as she was and would be until she learned news about Amadis, for she had been dressed that way when he returned her realm to her. She wished to stay in London with the Queen until her knights returned or she had news about Amadis.

Then Oriana said:

"Did she seem as beautiful as they say?"

"So help me God," she said, "besides yourself, my lady, the most beautiful and gentile woman of all those whom I have seen. And she told me to tell you that she will see you when ye find it best for her to visit."

"I would be very pleased to see her," Oriana said, "for she is the person in the world I would like most to see."

"Honor her," Beltenebros said, "for she is worthy, despite anything that ye, my lady, may have thought."

"My beloved," she said, "let us leave this, for I am sure my thoughts were not true."

"Well, I believe that as a result of this test," he said, "soon your thoughts shall be much relieved of that and much more subject to me."

"If that can happen, it is because of the excessive love I have for you," Oriana said. "I have faith in God that the wreath of flowers will give testimony to it."

The Damsel also told them how the King had granted Enil all the guarantees that he had asked for.

In these and other things that gave them pleasure, they passed that day and the following days until it was time for the test. On the night before, they arose at midnight and dressed Oriana in the cape ye have heard about and put veils in front of her face. Beltenebros wore the strong new armor that Enil brought him. They went over the wall in the garden, and she mounted the palfrey that Gandalin brought and Beltenebros mounted his horse, and they went alone through the forest to the Spring of the Three Streams.

Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark had no little fear that the two would be recognized and their splendor of joy would be changed into great gloom. And when Oriana found herself alone in the night with her beloved, she had such terror that her body trembled and she could not speak. She feared that if she failed the test of the wreath, her beloved, in whom her love surely was, might come to doubt her. She wished she had not set out on that road.

Beltenebros, seeing how she was upset, told her:

"So help me God, my lady, if I had thought that ye would be so worried by this trip, and I would rather die than put you in it. It would be good for us to turn back."

Then he turned his horse and her palfrey around toward where they had come from, but when Oriana saw that because of her, a great venture would be abandoned, her heart changed, and she told him:

"My beloved, do not pay attention to the fear that I as a woman have at being in such a strange place, and instead be concerned with what ye must do as a good knight."

"My good lady," he said, "forgive me if your discretion overcomes my madness, for I ought not dare to say or do anything except what ye willingly order me to do."

Then they went on as before and arrived at the Spring of the Three Streams an hour before dawn. When the day grew light, Enil arrived, which pleased them greatly, and Beltenebros said:

"My lady, this is the squire who I told you would go before the King for me. Let us learn what news he has brought."

Enil told them that everything Beltenebros had wanted had been ordered by the King, and that after Mass, the test would begin. Beltenebros gave him his shield and lance, but he did not take off his helmet, and they took the road to London. They rode until they entered the town gate.

Everyone looked at them and said:

"This is the good knight Beltenebros who sent Sir Cuadragante and the giants here. Truly, this is the use of arms at its highest. The damsel who comes under his protection must be very blessed."

Oriana, who heard all this, felt proud to find herself the lady of he who with his great valor was lord over so many others.

Thus they arrived at the palace of the King, where he and all his knights and the Queen and all her ladies and damsels had gathered in a hall for the test. When their arrival became known, the King came to received them at the entrance to the hall, and when they were before him, they knelt to kiss his hands, but the King did not offer them and said:

"My good friend, know that I would happily do all that ye may ask, for in the little time ye have served me, ye have done more than any knight has done for any king."

Beltenebros thanked him with great humility and did not try to speak, and went with his damsel to the Queen. Oriana's flesh trembled in dread to find herself before her father and mother, fearing she would be recognized, but her lover never let go of her hand. They knelt before the Queen, and she raised them up by the hands and said:

"Damsel, I do not know who ye are, for I have never seen you, but for the great service that this knight who brings you has done, and for your own worth, he and ye shall receive every honor and mercy that ye ought."

Beltenebros thanked her, but Oriana made no response and held her head down in a sign of humility.

The King placed himself with all the knights on one side of the hall, and the Queen on the other with all the ladies and damsels. Beltenebros told the King that he wished to remain with his damsel apart to be the last to try the test. The King granted that.

Then the King went to take the sword, which was on a table, and took it a out the length of a hand and no more. Macandon, which was the name of the squire who had brought it, told him:

"King, if in your court no one is more in love than you, I shall not leave here with what I desire."

And he put back the sword, as he had to do each time. Next Galaor tried it, but he could not pull it out more than three fingers' width. And after him it was tested by Florestan, Galvanes, Grumedan, Brandoivas, and Ladasin, and none of them could take it out as much as Sir Florestan, who had pulled it out the width of a palm.

Then Sir Guilan the Pensive tried it and took it halfway out. Macandon told him:

"If ye loved twice as much, ye would win the sword, and I would win what I have been seeking for so long."

After him, more than a hundred knights of renown tested it, and none of them pulled out the sword all the way, and some could pull it out not at all. Macandon said that they were heretics of love.

Then Agrajes came to test it, and before he tried, he looked where his lady Olinda was, and thought that with the loyal and true love he had for her, the sword was his. He pulled it out so far that only a hands'-width remained inside, and he tried so hard to pull it out farther that the glowing side of the sword touched his clothing and burned part of it. He felt happy for having done more than anyone else had, and he left it and returned to where he had been, but first Macandon told him:

"My lord knight, so close ye came to achieving happiness for you and satisfaction for me!"

And then Palomir and Dragonis tried it, who had arrived at the court the day before, and they pulled out the sword as much as Sir Galaor had, and Macandon told them:

"Knights, if ye broke the sword where ye had taken it out, ye would have little with which to defend yourselves."

"Ye speak the truth," Dragonis said, "but if at the end of this test ye are made a knight, ye will not be too young to remember any of this."

Everyone laughed about what Dragonis said, but now there was no one left in the court to take that test, and Beltenebros rose and took his lady by the hand and went to where the sword was, and Macandon told him:

"My lord knight from far away, the sword ye hope to win may suit you better than the one you wear now, but it would be better not to give up yours yet, because this sword more by heartfelt loyalty than by force must to be won."

But Beltenebros grasped the sword and pulled it fully out of the sheath, and immediately the burning half became as bright as the other half, and it seemed to be all one piece. When Macandon saw this, he knelt before him and said:

"Oh good knight! May God honor thee as thou hast honored this court. Rightly thou should be loved and desired by she whom thou lovest, unless she is the most false and foolish woman in the world. I ask the honor of knighthood from thee. It must come from thy hand or no one, for I may not take it from anyone else, and with it thou shalt give me my lands and lordship over many noblemen."

"My good friend," Beltenebros said, "proceed with the test of the wreath, and then I shall do with you what by rights I must do."

Then he made the sign of the cross over the sword and left his for whoever might want it, put the new one around his neck, and, taking his lady by the hand, returned to where they had been.

But the praise from all those who were in the court for his prowess and love was so great that it inflamed the anger of Sir Galaor and Florestan, believing it a great dishonor that anyone in the world but their brother Amadis should be held in more esteem than them. So they decided that the first thing they would do after the battle between King Lisuarte and King Cildadan, if they were still alive, would be to fight with him and die or show everyone the difference between him and their brother Amadis.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chapter XXVIII½: Amadis of Gaul and Zombies, by Sue Burke

How Amadis and his companions encountered a castle that had been captured by a sorcerer, and what had happened to those who lived there. I wrote this story because no work of classic literature is complete without zombies. 

Illustration from a copy of Der Renner by Hugo von Trimberg, made in Nürnberg in 1425-1431. Der Renner is a sermon in the form of a poem that deals with the seven deadly sins.

Amadis, Sir Galaor, and Balais of Carsante continued on their way to Windsor to see King Lisuarte, as ye have heard, and as they approached a large, strong castle, they saw that its gate was closed and three knights lay before it, their armor badly damaged and stained with blood. They heard the sound of great tumult from within the castle, and they were astonished to see that the gate was blocked from the outside.

Two of the knights were without a doubt dead, for their injuries were severe, but one of the knights stirred, and they hurried to help him. But as they neared, still on horseback, he arose as best he could and waved a bloodied mace at them to drive them away.

"Stay, and come no closer!" he said. "We have failed our duty, and the castle has become the home of demons. Kill me and destroy it, in the name of God, and then flee from this foul place."

"My lord knight," Amadis said, "tell us what has happened, and if we can be of some service, we shall do so as honorable knights, but it would seem very wrong to ask us to kill you."

"My lord, death is the best that awaits me," he said, "and I must hope ye are honorable, for not all knights are. The lord of this castle left to go to a distant part of his lands, and while he was away, a knight-errant arrived and asked to stay the night. The lady of the castle, who is as good as she is wise, received him with honors, but after they had eaten and he had gone to his room, he called for the chamberlain. We thought little of it and went to bed, but in the morning the chamberlain lay pale with death in the courtyard, and as some servants came to take him away, he seemed to awaken, but as a senseless thing with only one thought, and that was to kill. All those he attacked, be they man, woman, or child, fell dead like him, then arose like him to attack others."

Amadis crossed himself and said:

"I have never heard of such an illness as this."

"My lord, I tell you it is no illness," said the knight. "It is the work of the knight-errant, for he soon began to command the dead as if they were his own, and with a cruelty unbounded. He is in service to the Devil, and ye, good knights, if ye love God, must destroy us and this castle and kill him."

As he spoke, one of the dead knights stirred and stood, then charged at them with his sword drawn.

Balais said:

"This knight is dead and yet wishes to fight again!"

The injured knight said:

"Do not let him draw your blood, or ye shall die like him and, like him, ye shall not rest in death. This is a lesson we learned to our loss. Cut off his head or smash it. And with three of you against him, perhaps ye can do that, and do not think it dishonorable, for ye fight a demon, not a man."

"We do not doubt your word," Sir Galaor said, "and ye must not doubt our valor."

The dead knight ran at Balais, who backed away but had difficulty in keeping his horse from fleeing. Galaor charged the knight from behind. He struck the knight's helmet with his sword, and the blade sunk deep, but he did not cut off his head, and so he rode past and immediately prepared to attack again.

The dead knight turned to face Galaor. Balais urged his horse forward to attack, but the horse feared the knight on the ground more than it wished to obey the one on its back, and would not move. And the second dead knight arose and ran to attack Galaor. When Amadis saw this, he lowered his lance and charged as fast as his horse could gallop. The lance entered the visor of the dead knight and came out on the other side, but rather than break, the lance knocked the knight down and dragged him until the helmet's laces broke and it was pulled off, leaving the knight's head torn to pieces.

Balais dismounted and ran at the first dead knight to make him turn toward him. Galaor charged again, and this time struck a great blow with his sword and the knight's head fell to the ground.

With that, they returned to the injured knight, who had taken off his helmet. He said:

"Kill me too, or I shall arise like them. Ye can hear the sorcerer's demons inside. If they escape, his evil will spread, and this land will be lost. By God, destroy this castle out of mercy and justice, which is your duty."

Amadis said:

"My lord, we swear to you that we shall do what ye ask, for clearly it is right to demand this of us."

"I thank you," the knight said, "and I pray that God will bring your work to a good end. And now I must die, and I beg you to let me rest in peace in death."

At that, the knight fell, and Balais gave a blow with his sword and cut off his head. He said:

"I believe this is the courtesy that we owe him."

Amadis said:

"We must destroy this castle, but I do not think that will be an easy task. Clearly, we lack the weapons to take a castle with such tall, strong walls, and it would be no small thing even with them."

"It seems undefended," Galaor said, "for I see no men on the walls. Perhaps we can get some weapons and help in a town near here."

"Fire is a simple tool," Balais said, "and I think we could send fire over the walls with arrows, which we have with us."

As they considered how to set fire to the castle, a lady in rich clothing that was torn and in disarray appeared in the window of a tower and called to them:

"Oh knights! Ye must help me, or I must end my life with my own hands. A vile sorcerer has taken this castle and will capture our souls make us all his slaves in death. He has taken my sons but not yet my daughter, and ye can save us. I beg you to help us!"

Then she was pulled from the window, and she cursed the person who was taking her away and begged him to let her daughter live.

"By Holy Mary," Amadis said, "this is the worst villainy I have ever seen, and I tell you I can do nothing else but save this lady and her daughter from the unnatural and unholy fate of these knights that we have seen here."

"My brother, ye are right," Galaor said, "and my heart and my honor command me to serve them. I distrust all sorcery, and such evil as this must be stopped."

"Then," Amadis said, "we must enter the castle and fight."

"I shall gladly fight with you," Galaor said.

"As for me," Balais said, "I shall remain outside with our squires, and if ye do not succeed, we shall burn this castle, for if ye two cannot defeat this sorcerer, no other knights can accomplish this feat."

"In the name of God," Amadis said. He ordered the squires to unblock the gates and open them, Galaor took the mace that the dead knight had carried, and they raised their shields and rode into the castle. The squires shut the gates behind them.

As Amadis and Sir Galaor rode through a passageway toward a courtyard, they heard groans and shouts ahead. Galaor said:

"With so much blood on these walls, there has recently been a great battle here."

"So it seems," Amadis said, "yet I see no bodies on the ground."

But as they rode a little further, they saw bones on the ground and the bloody clothing of men and women.

"Here are the bodies," Galaor said, "but only bones remain, although they cannot have been dead for long."

"Indeed," Amadis said, "it seems as if they have been butchered and cleaned of their flesh, and they do not seem to be knights."

"These bodies have been defiled, which is the sign of great wickedness," Galaor said. "Let us move forward with caution."

Amadis did not reply, and while his heart remained strong, it was greatly troubled by what he had seen. Then they heard people shouting and running toward them. They raised their shields and prepared to fight, but what entered the passageway were not knights but the servants of the castle. All were bloodied, and some were missing limbs or flesh, and all had the pallor of death. Their faces seemed senseless, as if they could no longer think. Some carried tools or weapons, and others were armed only with their hands and teeth, and they all ran at the knights, ready to attack.

"Remember, brother," Amadis said, "that we must not be injured by the dead, and I think that these people are as dead as the knights outside, so we must fight the same way. But it troubles me to have to fight men who are not knights or soldiers, and to fight women, whatever their station."

"These are demons, not men and women, so do not think of that," Sir Galaor said. He charged forward, and Amadis followed.

But they faced a great many opponents, and they found it difficult to both fight and protect themselves. Amadis soon backed into a corner so the wall would shield him on two sides. Although he swung his sword wide and delivered many great blows, the attacks continued. He struck a man and his arm fell to the ground, but the man, who wore the clothing of blacksmith, paid no heed to his injury. Amadis had never before injured anyone who was not a knight, and never any lady or damsel or woman, and with every blow, he grew more irate at the sorcerer who had caused this.

He saw that the servants were attacking not just him but his horse, and he cut the hands from the arms that reached for it, and then turned to strike a man who was swinging a shovel at him like an axe. As he did, he saw that Galaor's horse was also being attacked. It fell, but Galaor dismounted quickly and continued to fight. Yet even as the horse lay on the ground, not yet dead, the demonized men and women continued to attack it and tore off its flesh, which they ate with great hunger.

At that sight, Amadis ceased to hesitate and attacked as if he had no pity, since he had seen that it was truly a greater mercy to send these souls to their rest rather than allow them to suffer the cruel sorcery that had made them more like wolves than men. Then he went to help Galaor, for more of these demonized dead were arriving, but as Amadis rode toward him, he could not protect his horse on all sides, and soon it too fell.

Amadis jumped off, as one who feared death in a way he had never feared it before, and fought with Galaor on foot, back to back. He gave great blows with his sword, and Galaor with his mace, both to protect themselves and to send their attackers to their rest. Then they delivered the final blows to the ones who were eating their horses.

With the dead truly dead and the passageway silent, they heard the lady calling for help again:

"Oh my Lord God, may Thy will be done and may I die now, for I prefer that to the fate which is so close to me. Cursed be he who has done this sorcery! Cruel knight, may ye live to see all your wickedness overturned, and may ye be repaid both in this life and in the next for what ye have done."

"Let us go forward," Amadis said, "for the lady still lives, and we may help her."

Galaor said:

"I swear to fulfill her request for vengeance on the one who has caused this."

They passed through a gate and entered a small courtyard that was also stained with blood and strewn with bones. As they looked around, shields raised and weapons ready, three knights charged at them from a doorway. Their armor was damaged and marked with blood as if they had just fought hard, and one lacked an arm, which had recently been cut off.

"These knights seem to be as dead and yet as alive as the rest," Galaor said.

"We have seen that the dead here can fight as fiercely as the living," Amadis said, "so let us guard our heads better than they guard theirs."

One knight attacked first, and Amadis met him, giving mighty blows with his sword, but I tell you that it was a strange fight, for while the knight moved more slowly than he would have were he alive, he had no concern to protect himself and attacked without pause, so Amadis could barely land a blow and at the same time protect himself from the other knight's sword. He cut off pieces of armor with flesh in them, but the knight was not troubled by his injuries.

The other two joined in the fight, and Galaor swung his mace at them and at their weapons, and though his blows were great, they had little effect. Amadis cut halfway through the leg of one of the knights, who continued to attack, as one who had no sense of his own body.

Finally, Amadis leaned in after a sword had just swung past him, grabbed the knight by the helmet, and pulled it off a little, enough to separate the helmet from the gorget, and quickly cut through the knight's neck. Then he struck another knight from behind as he was attacking Galaor, and that knight's head also fell to the ground. Freed from defending himself, Galaor smashed the head of the third knight, so all three now lay motionless on the ground.

They heard more shouts and more calls for help from the lady, and without hesitation they ran forward into a very beautiful, wide courtyard, and they were amazed by what they saw. The lady whom they had seen in the tower was chained by her neck to a pillar in its center. She held a large sword, and with it she was trying to protect herself from a damsel whose face, though beautiful, had the pallor and senselessness of one who was dead. The lady did not wish to harm the damsel, so she struck with the flat blade of the sword rather than the edge, but the sword was heavy, and the lady swung it with difficulty.

A large, strong knight in full armor watched her, laughing, and two more knights stood motionless beside him. The large knight's armor was new but had no insignia to show who he might be.

"Oh, help me, good knights," the lady said. "This damsel is my daughter, and she has been made a demon. That knight is the sorcerer who has done this to us. Ye must kill him to avenge us, for nothing else can save us!"

"Do not listen to her," the knight said, "not because she speaks lies, for what she says is true, but because ye cannot help her or even yourselves. Know that my name is Lanufal. I can control the dead, and I shall rule these lands and all of Great Britain and then the lands beyond the seas."

Amadis burned with anger and told him:

"What cowardice is this that thou sendest the dead to fight for thee? What the lady says is true and just, and we shall do justice to avenge her and to protect all innocent people from thee. And I shall fight thee not for her alone but in the name of King Lisuarte of Great Britain and all the other kings of the lands that thou desirest, whose duty it is to protect their people from vile sorcerers like thee."

"We shall send thee to the most foul pit of Hell," Galaor said, "which will be God's justice."

Lanufal laughed and told the damsel:

"See these knights? Their flesh will taste the sweetest of all, and ye shall have it, my dear. Turn and attack, and we shall see if these knights are so honorable as to strike down an unarmed damsel."

She turned toward them. Her fine clothes were torn and stained, her mouth was wet with blood as if she had been eating living flesh, and her eyes were as lifeless as stones.

"I pity this damsel," Amadis said, "and I despise thee even more for what thou hast done to her."

"And these two knights," Lanufal said, "are her dead brothers, and they shall fight your friend, and I shall watch and enjoy the fruits of my labors. Soon ye two new knights, so brave and so foolish, shall be my servants and shall fight for me."

The two knights charged at Galaor, and the damsel slowly approached Amadis. He raised his shield and sword, but tears ran down his cheeks.

"I have pledged to protect all ladies and damsels and all women whatever their station," he said, "and she can do nothing to save herself because of thee, miserable knight."

"Kill her," the lady said, weeping, "if indeed ye pity her!"

Amadis said:

"I shall do nothing to disgrace myself."

"Send her soul to her rest, if ye love God," the lady said.

"Love God if ye wish," Lanufal said, "but I rule here, and I laugh at your suffering."

"May God forgive me," Amadis said.

By then the damsel had come quite close, and in her senselessness, she did not move to protect herself, and Amadis, with one blow, sent her head to fall at her feet.

"I have done the most honorable deed I could," Amadis told Lanufal, "and now I shall make thee pay for my dishonor!"

He ran at Lanufal, who did not lift his shield or draw his sword. Amadis swung with all his might and brought his sword down on the top of his helmet, but the sword felt in his hand as if it had struck solid stone. The helmet did not yield and the knight did not move, and he seemed not to have been struck at all.

"What is this?" Amadis said.

"This is more sorcery," Lanufal said. "This armor shall yield to no knight. Now prepare to fight, but ye cannot win, and soon ye shall be my knight. Ye may have strength and even honor, but it cannot save you."

He raised his sword, but Amadis dodged the blow and struck at the edge of the other knight's shield, but it was not cut or damaged in any way. Lanufal advanced with little hurry and swung his sword again, which sunk into Amadis's shield and cut off a piece. Amadis heard the great blows exchanged between Sir Galaor and the two knights, and the lady said:

"Good knight, may ye do everything ye can to defeat this wicked sorcerer or die an honorable and clean death! I do not know why God does not send us help."

Amadis saw that she still held her sword raised in anger. He continued to fight, but he could not injure the knight, and was forced to move backwards to protect himself, and although Lanufal tried to move him toward Sir Galaor and the other two knights, Amadis moved toward the lady.

Soon they were fighting in front of her, and Amadis struck Lanufal with such a blow that it made Amadis's sword fall from his hand. He knelt to pick it up, and the other knight leaned over to strike him, but the lady brought her sword down on his head. She was not strong, but the sword was good, and it sunk a little ways into the helmet, and she could not pull it out.

Lanufal reached up and took it out, then struck her on the face with the pommel. But as he did that, Amadis jumped to his feet and aimed a blow at his head, but the other knight defended himself with his shield. Then he began to attack Amadis more fiercely.

"Your armor will yield to no knight," Amadis said, "but the lady has shown that your sorcery was more brave than wise, since not all those who bear arms are knights."

"This will be of no advantage to you, lowly knight," Lanufal said. "Protect yourself, for anyone can harm you."

Meanwhile Galaor had been fighting with the two sons, who were strong, but their cleverness as knights had left them with their lives, and no knight was as agile as Galaor. He struck few blows with his mace, but they were mighty and well-aimed, and first one son, then the other soon fell.

He saw that his brother was in trouble and hurried to help, and Lanufal, in his anger, did not see him approach. Galaor struck Lanufal with all his strength on his back, and although his armor was not damaged, the knight staggered, and Amadis leaped to one side and brought his sword down in the cleft the lady had created, and he cut the sorcerer's head in two.

That done, they freed the lady from the chain.

"May God give ye the reward ye deserve for defeating such an evil man," she said. "My sons and daughter and the people of this castle have died, but many more are now saved."

She knelt to kiss Amadis's hands, but he raised her up and said:

"My lady, it was your blow that defeated him, and ye are to be praised for your courage. Ye have done what no knight could have done."

"With his death," Galaor said, "his treachery is ended, and if he has any books of sorcery, we must destroy them so no one can cause such suffering again."

The lady said she would take them to the room where he had stayed, but they heard shouts from outside the castle, and then some armed men entered as fast as their horses could run, among them Balais, and they were shocked by what they saw. The lady was very happy to see them, and she addressed one of them, who wore fine armor and rode a large, handsome horse:

"My lord husband, these two knights have defeated a cruel sorcerer, and while we have lost much, they have saved all of Britain from the greatest horror in the world." She told them everything that had happened, and how she had called for help, and what the knights had done.

Her husband said:

"I have heard from this other knight who waited outside about the death that was not death, but what I see here is beyond all recounting. Truly, these two knights deserve thanks as sincere as our sorrow." When he learned that they were Amadis of Gaul and his brother Galaor, he said, "I have heard you praised as the greatest knights in the world, and know I now that it is true."

He asked them to stay and promised to serve them with honors, but Amadis and Galaor wanted to go, not just to get to Windsor but to leave a place that had given their hearts such deep anguish. The lord of the castle offered them new horses, the best that he had, and everything else they might need for their journey, which they accepted with many thanks.

So they continued on the road, but they stopped at the first chapel they found to pray that such evil would not return again to the world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chapter 56 [final half]

[How an elderly squire on a quest brought an enchanted sword sheathed in dragon bones to the court of King Lisuarte, along with a half-alive and half-dead wreath of flowers, and what he was seeking with them.] 

["His Move," painted by Albrecht Vriendt in 1868.] 

King Lisuarte felt deeply concerned about the battle he had to fight with King Cildadan, knowing the courage and baseness that giants and other knights of such blood would bring to the battle. He wanted to be fully prepared to uphold his honor in it, so he had in London with him Sir Florestan and Agrajes and Galvanes the Landless, who had by then arrived, and many other knights of renown.

The knights all spoke a lot about the deeds of Beltenebros, and many said that he had even exceeded those of Amadis. This bothered his brothers Sir Galaor and Florestan so much that if they had not given their word to the King to get into no other confrontation until the battle was over, they would have searched for him and fought him, with such ire and wrath that it could only have resulted in death for him or them. They agreed that if they left the battle alive, they would not enter into another quest except to search for him, but they only spoke of this between themselves.

One day as the King was in his palace speaking with his knights, an old squire accompanied by two others, all dressed alike, entered through the gate. He had untidy white hair and big ears. He went to the King, knelt before him, greeted him in Greek, where he was from, and told him:

"My lord, the great and worldwide fame of the knights and ladies and damsels of your court has caused me to come to see if among them I might find what I have been seeking fruitlessly for sixty years all over the world. And if thou, noble King, thinkest it good for me to make a test here, it shall not be to thy harm nor loss, I promise thee."

The knights, wishing to see what it would be, eagerly begged the King to grant what he asked, and he, as eager as them to know, held it good. Then the old squire picked up a jasper chest three cubits long and one palm wide, whose pieces were held in place with plaques of gold. He opened it and took out the strangest sword ever seen. The sheath was made of two strips as green as emeralds, and were of bone so clear that the iron of the sword could be seen inside, but one strip was not like the other, for one could not have been more clear and bright, but the other was as glowing as red as fire. The decorations and belt were made of the same bone as the sheath, in small pieces joined with golden screws so that it could be fastened like any other belt.

The squire hung it around his neck and took from the box a wreath of very beautiful flowers for a woman's head. Half of it was as lovely and green and of such lively colors as if it had just been cut in full bloom, and the other half of flowers so dry that it seemed as if they would crumble if anyone came near them.

The King asked why the two parts of the wreath were so different, half so fresh and the other half so dry, and why the sword seemed so strange.

"King," said the squire, "this sword cannot be taken from its sheath except by the knight who loves his lady more than any other in the world loves his own lady, and when it is in his hand, the half that seems now to be burning with become as clean and bright as the other half, and the iron shall seem the same on each side. And this wreath of flowers that ye see, if it is put on the head of the lady or damsel who loves her husband or beloved the same as the knight, then the dry flowers shall be as green and beautiful as the others, with no difference between them. Know that I cannot become a knight except at the hand of the faithful lover who removes this sword, and I cannot take a sword except from she who wins the wreath. And for that reason, good King, I have come to your court after engaging in this search for sixty years, for I think that no court of any other emperor or king could equal yours in honor and fame, here I think I can find that which in the others, no matter how many courts I have visited, I could not find."

"Now tell me," said the King, "why this fire so bright in half the sheath does not burn the other half."

"I shall tell you gladly," the squire said. "Know, King, that between Tartar and India there is a sea so hot that it boils like water over a fire, and it is all green, and serpents live in that sea. They are larger than crocodiles, and they have wings to fly, and they are so venomous that people flee them in fear. But some times they find them dead, which they value highly, for they are very useful for medicines. These serpents have one bone from head to tail, and it is so wide that the entire body is borne over it, and as green as ye see it in the sheath and ornaments. And because it was engendered in that burning sea, no other fire can burn it.

"Now I shall tell you about the wreath. It is made from flowers of trees that are in that land of Tartar on an island set fifteen miles out in that sea, and there are only two such trees, and no one knows where more of them grow. In that sea there is a whirlpool so fast and dangerous that men fear to cross it to pick the flowers, but some dare to do it and gather them to sell because they always remain fresh and vivid.

"Now that I have told you about them, I want you to know why I travel thus and who I am. Know that I am the nephew of the best man of his time, who was named Apolidon, and who lived a great while in your land on Firm Island, where he left many enchantments and marvels, as is well known throughout the world. My father was his brother King Ganor, to whom he left his reign, and I was engendered by Ganor and the daughter of the King of Cononia. When I was the age to become a knight, since my mother loved me dearly, she asked me to give her a boon: since I was conceived in the great love between her and my father, I would not become a knight except at the hand of the most faithful lover in the world, and would not take a sword except from the lady or damsel who loved the same way.

"I agreed, thinking that it would not take any longer to fulfill that boon than to arrive in the presence of my uncle Apolidon and his beloved Grimanesa, but it did not happen that way, because when I came before him, I found that Grimanesa had died, and when Apolidon knew why I had come, he felt very sorry for me because the custom of that land was that, not being a knight, I could not reign in that kingdom, which was my right.

"Since he could not help me at that time, he ordered me to return in a year, when he gave me this sword and wreath, saying that I could remedy my foolishness in promising such a boon by the labor of looking for a knight and woman, and, when I had found both, I would have fulfilled my promise.

"And so, good King, this is the reason for my quest. May it be that in your nobility, which has never been lacking, ye may try this sword, and all your knights, and the Queen and all her ladies and damsels may try the wreath of flowers, and if here be found those who can pass the test, the jewels shall be theirs and the advantage and peace of mind mine, and ye shall have greater honor that any other prince because of what was found in your court and lacking in all the others."

When the old squire was done speaking, all the knights who were with the King earnestly begged him to order the trial, and he also wanted it, so he agreed. He told the squire that since the Feast of Saint James [July 25] was only five days away, many knights he had summoned would be present then, and to wait until that day because the more people present, the more likely he was to find what he was looking for. He held that to be good.

Gandalin, who was in the court and who heard all that the squire had said and how the King had responded, mounted his horse, went to Miraflores on the pretext of seeing Mabilia, and entered the little patio with its beautiful trees, where he found Beltenebros and Oriana playing chess. He told them:

"My good lord and lady, I bring you strange news from the court today."

Then he told them all about the sword and the wreath and why the old squire had brought them, and how the King had agreed to have them tested, just as it has been told to you above. When Beltenebros heard this, he lowered his head and begin to think so deeply that he saw nothing, and it seemed to Oriana, Mabilia, and Gandalin that he was lost to everything in the world. He remained that way for a while, and eventually Mabilia and Gandalin left. When Beltenebros became alert, and Oriana asked him what had caused him to think so deeply.

He told her:

"My lady, if God and ye can make what I was thinking about come true, ye shall make me very happy for all time."

"My beloved," she said, "by making youself the lord of my person, everything ye ask shall be easy to fulfill."

He took her by the hand and kissed it many times and said:

"My lady, I was thinking that if you and I win those two jewels, our hearts shall forever be at rest, for all the doubts that have tormented them shall be put aside."

"How can this be done," Oriana said, "without placing me in great shame and greater danger, along with these damsels who know of our love?"

"It can well be done," Beltenebros said, "for I shall take you so well disguised and with such assurances from your father the King so that no one shall recognize us, as if we were to go before foreigners who knew nothing about us."

"If it is so," she said, "I shall do as ye will, and may God make it good, for I do not doubt winning that wreath, if it can be won for loving too much."

Beltenebros told her:

"I shall ask for an assurance from your father that he shall not ask anything of me against my will, and I shall come wearing all my armor, and you, my lady, shall wear a brocade cape and veils before your face, so that ye can see everyone but no one can see you, and this way we shall come and go without anyone knowing who we are."

"My true beloved," Oriana said, "what ye say seems good. Let us call Mabilia, for without her advice I do not dare to agree to such a great undertaking."

Then they called her, and the Damsel of Denmark and Gandalin, who were with her, and told them what they had agreed to, and although it meant a great danger for them, knowing it was the will of Amadis and Oriana, they did not oppose it.

Instead, Mabilia said:

"Among the gifts that my mother the Queen sent me with the Damsel of Denmark is a very beautiful, well-made cape that has never been seen in all these lands, and it shall be for you to wear, my lady."

Then they brought it and put Oriana in a room and dressed her the way she would go, and with her gloves on her hands and her veils, they brought her before Beltenebros, and as much as he and they looked at her head to toe, they could not find one thing by which they nor anyone could recognize her.

Beltenebros said:

"I never thought, my lady, that I would be so happy not to see you or recognize you."

He ordered Gandalin to go immediately to buy the most beautiful palfrey he could and, on the day of the test, to bring it to the garden wall after midnight. And he also ordered Durin to wait for him with his horse after nightfall at the place where he had entered over the wall, because that night he wanted to go to the Spring of the Three Streams, and to send Enil, his squire, to secure the assurance from the King, and to get the new arms that Enil was bringing.

Finally, when the time came, he left the garden, mounted his horse, and went alone into the forest, which he knew well, as one who had often ridden through it while hunting. At dawn he was beside the fountain, and he did not wait long to see Enil coming with his armor, very well made and handsome, which gave him great pleasure. He asked him about the news of the court. Enil told him how the King and all his men spoke often about his great skill, and began to tell him about the sword and wreath, but Beltenebros told him:

"I learned about that three days ago from a damsel who asked me to take her well disguised to test herself, and I agreed to do it. I shall go with her, also disguised, to try the sword. And because, as thou knowest, my will is not to be known to the King or anyone else until my works merit it, go back quickly and tell the King that if he gives his assurance to me and the damsel I shall take that nothing shall be done nor required of us against our will, then we shall come and try this test. And tell the Queen and her ladies and damsels that the damsel has made me take her is against my will, but I can do nothing else, for I have promised her. And on the day of the test, come here at dawn so the damsel may learn if thou hast brought the assurance or not. In the meantime, I shall go to get to her, for she lives far from here."

Enil said he would do so, gave him his armor, and left to fulfill his orders. Beltenebros went to the riverside that ye have already heard of, and there he remained until night, and then he left for Miraflores. There he found Durin, who took his horse, and he went to the entrance of the garden, where he saw his lady Oriana and the other damsels waiting for him, who received him well. He gave them his armor and climbed the wall.

Mabilia told him:

"What is this, my lord and cousin? Ye have returned richer than ye left."

"You do not understand," Oriana said. "He left to look for weapons so he could leave this prison."

"That is true," Mabilia said, "and ye should take counsel, for ye shall have to fight with him."

So they entered the castle with great pleasure, and they give him something to eat, for he had not eaten all day because he was hiding.