Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chapter 61 [part 4 of 5]

[How Amadis prepared and the battle began, but his sword was no match Ardan Canileo’s.] 

[A relic on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Ecclesiastical Treasury in Vienna. In real medieval life, reliquaries and magic weapons were prohibited in fights like these. Photo by Sue Burke.] 

Amadis took the King aside, away from the other knights, and said:

“My lord, know that I have lost my sword, which I did not discover until now, and only the scabbard remains.”

The King was very troubled by that and told him:

“Although I have promised and upheld never to give my sword to any knight in my court who was fighting one-on-one, I shall give you it now, in consideration of the great confrontations that ye have been placed in while in my service.”

“My lord,” Amadis said, “may it not please God that I, who must support and keep your pledge, make ye break it, for ye have made that promise before many noblemen.”

Tears came to the King’s eyes, and he said:

“Ye are such that ye maintain all that is just and loyal. But what shall ye do, if ye cannot have that fine sword?”

“I have the sword with which I was launched into the sea,” he said, “which Sir Guilan brought here and the Queen ordered to be kept. With it and with your prayers to our Lord, which will be worth much before Him, I shall be aided.”

Then he tried the other sword in the scabbard and it fit well, although a little smaller. The King was pleased by that because Amadis could bring the scabbard with him, which had the virtue of protecting him from great heat and cold because it was made from dragons’ bones, although that sword was nowhere near as good as the other one.

And so they spent the day until it was time to sleep, and all those knights of whom ye have heard placed their arms around the King’s bed.

But I tell you that in Ardan Canileo’s tents that night, he and all his people held a party and danced and sang, playing many kinds of musical instruments, and at the end of the songs, they all shouted:

“Come, morning, come and bring the bright day, because Ardan Canileo shall fulfill his promise to the very beautiful Madasima.”

But fortune was contrary to this in a different way than they thought.

Amadis lay that night in the King’s bed, but sleep did not come to his aid, and so at midnight he got up without saying a word and went to the chapel, woke the chaplain, and confessed all his sins. They both prayed before the altar of the Virgin Mary, asking Her to be his advocate in the battle.

When dawn came, the King arose as did the knights whom ye have heard tell of, and they heard Mass. Knights who knew the task well armed Amadis. But before he put on his chain mail, Mabilia came and put some relics in gold cases around his neck, saying that his mother, the Queen, had sent them with the Damsel of Denmark. But that was not so, for Queen Elisena had given them to Amadis when she learned he was her son, and he had given them to Oriana when he rescued her from Arcalaus and the men who were carrying her away.

When he was armed, they brought him a handsome horse that Corisanda had sent to Sir Florestan with other gifts. Sir Florestan carried his lance, Sir Guilan his shield, and Sir Bruneo his helmet. The King came on a fine horse with his scepter in his hand.

And know that all the people of the court and the town were around the field to watch the battle, and the ladies and damsels were in the windows, and the beautiful Oriana and Mabilia stood in a window of their chamber, and Briolanja and Madasima and other princesses were with the Queen.

When Amadis arrived at the field, they raised a chain. He entered and took his arms, and when he had to put on his helmet, he looked at his lady Oriana, and such great courage came to him that it seemed that nothing in the world could help him with equal strength. Then the judges entered the field who had to be arbiters for each knight. There were three of them: the fine old Sir Grumedan, who knew much about such things, and Sir Cuadragante, who was a vassal of the King, and Brandoivas.

Then Ardan Canileo arrived, well-armed on a fine horse, wearing very thick mail and carrying a shield and helmet of such clean bright steel that they shone like a sparkling mirror. He wore Amadis’s very good sword, which the damsel had stolen, and carrying a thick lance, waving it so hard that it seemed as if he wanted to break it. That was how he came onto the field.

When Oriana saw this, she said with great sorrow:

“Oh, my friends, how angry and fearsome comes my death, if God in his great mercy does not help him!”

“My lady,” Mabilia said, “leave that and put on a good face, because with it ye shall give strength to your beloved.”

Then Grumedon took Amadis and placed him at one end of the field, and Brandoivas put Ardan Canileo at the other, with their horses facing each other. Sir Cuadragante waited in the middle with a bugle in his hand, and the knights could charge when he played it.

Amadis, looking at his lady, shouted:

“What is Cuadragante doing that he does not sound the bugle?”

Cuadragante immediately played it, and the knights had their horses gallop, and they struck their lances on each others’ shields so bravely that they were immediately broken. They ran into each other, and Ardan Canileo’s horse fell over its neck and immediately died. Amadis’s had a shoulder broken and could not arise.

But Amadis, with his very spirited heart, got up immediately, although with difficulty, because a bit of the lance had passed through his shield and up the sleeve of his chain mail without touching his flesh. He took it out, put his hand on his sword, and went at Ardan Canileo, who had gotten up with great effort and was straightening his helmet. When he saw his situation, he put his hand on his sword and went to attack so bravely that no man who saw them was not very frightened, for his blows were so fierce and so fast that the sparks flying from the helmets and the swords made them seem to be on fire.

Even more like fire was the shield of Ardan Canileo, for it was steel and the blows of Amadis were so hard that the shield and his arm seemed to be burning in live flames. But its great strength protected Ardan’s flesh from being cut. This was to Amadis’ mortal peril, for his armor was not as strong and Ardan had one of the best swords in the world, so he struck no blow that did not cut armor and flesh. In many places Amadis’s armor was stained with blood and his shield was almost ruined.

Meanwhile Amadis’s sword could not cut through Ardan Canileo’s armor, which was very strong, but while his chain mail was thick and heavy, it had been cut in more than ten places, and from each one of them blood flowed fast. What helped Amadis the most at that time was the great agility with which he dodged most of his opponents blows, although Ardan had much experience in fighting and knew well how to attack with his sword.

In that peril as ye hear, they continued, delivering many great and harsh blows until the third hour of the day, toiling with their arms and hands so fiercely that Ardan became very afraid, for he had never found a knight so strong nor a giant so brave that they could resist his valor. And what made this battle harder was that he found his enemy growing more agile and stronger than he had been at the beginning, while he was growing more tired and weak and covered with blood.

Then Madasima realized he would fail in what he had promised, and Amadis would win in less time than it would take to walk a half-league. This did not trouble her, nor that Ardan Canileo would lose his head there, because at this point she thought she would rather lose all her lands than find herself yoked to that man in marriage.

The knights attacked with many great and powerful blows on all sides where they could do the most harm, and each one tried to bring the other to death. With his great agility and endurance, if Amadis had borne a better sword, the other knight could not have maintained himself in the field. Yet Amadis did everything he could and labored as hard as he could, for he was fighting a mighty and elusive knight at arms. By then all his armor was broken and his shield destroyed, and his flesh cut in many places from which blood flowed freely.

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