Lanz & Gwenhevre: Love Against the Tide

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Chapter X: The Witch Hunt

My dear English readers, allow me to explain. In 814 Louis the Pious, on his accession to the French throne, began to take very active measures against all witches in Waule, and thanks to his authority, the Council of Paris in 829 appealed to secular courts to carry out any condemnation pronounced by the bishops. Consequently, from that time in Waule, the penalty for sorcery became death, and whenever the constituted authority, either ecclesiastical or civil, seems too lax against this particular heresy, then the people take the law into their own hands with monstrous results.

On the other hand, before 1100, the Church had already suppressed what it believed to be heresy by a system of ecclesiastical proscription or imprisonment, but without recourse to torture and rarely to executions. This death penalty in secular courts still has a number of vocal opponents in Waule, although other countries punish this kind of heresy in the same way.

In Waule, where Druidism persists, trials of witchcraft are rare, especially in Burgundy’s forests. This explains why the condemnation trial taking place in Avallon concentrated on the way Gwenhevre practiced her faith and not her magic. According to the witches of the Morvand, Gwenhevre was seen as a political prisoner – falsely accused of demonic aid, but without any proof. Regardless, the viscountess was brought back to her isolated prison-tower, after marrying Thamory, since Thamory said that Gwenhevre had hitherto visited and had sexual relations with minions in the luxurious guest room of the castle. Thamory insisted that he had never really loved her but only wanted to save the lady’s honor by marrying her. According to the Church, such a marriage without love is a sin against God. In any case, when he discovered her witchcraft, Thamory recommended that she turn her attention to the only True Faith capable of loving her – the Holy Church, for which she should devote herself to the vocation of a nun, but she refused and continued her heresy, according to Thamory.

Being an independent and wealthy woman, it’s interesting to note how her financial situation makes her heretical in the eyes of the secular court, and her particular faith emphasized a direct and personal relationship with God, estranging her even more from the traditions of Rome.

For months, before the fauna came to Gwenhevre’s rescue, in camera, ten out of thirty passages were written, truncated and distorted, in order to disadvantage Gwenhevre – without being read by Gwenhevre – to ensure that she be condemned of heresy. For what offenses was she finally condemned? She was condemned for having strayed from the Christian faith. On the other hand, the schedule of abjuration read by Gwenhevre was not the same as the one admitted in the minutes. Finally, the court wanted to trap her by asking her too many questions at the same time, when she was still delirious, unable to follow the judicial arguments against her. The irony of it all? Normally, Gwenhevre stands out in court, often the winner of cases, but this time, she could neither defend nor save herself.

As the trial against Gwenhevre became known to the public, the façade of her house began to show the support of the people of Avallon, who festooned her windows with roses. The Crusades and pilgrimages to the Holy Land introduce new plants, such as the oleander and the pomegranate. A pilgrim introduced into Waule the buttercup from the Holy Land, and a Crusader of the County of Flanders is responsible for having imported the Damask Rose, unusual since it blooms more than once a season.

The Knights of the Round Table immediately launched a counter-campaign by removing the roses from the windows, putting in their place garlands of mandrakes, a plant close to the belladonna. Associated with sorcery, this plant possesses extraordinary magical properties, and one attributes to it all kinds of marvelous properties for various usages. Taking human form, its roots resemble two legs. In fact, due to its magical properties, it is sometimes named the ‘hand-of-glory’.

The housekeeper remained there alone after Gwenhevre’s imprisonment, hiding in the attic, before being roughly expelled by the Knights. A sentinel took up his post on the ground floor where merchants rented the stalls, another lucrative income for Gwenhevre. On the second floor of her house was the main room for meals and guests, but it was locked by the Knights, as well as the third floor where there was a parlor for business meetings, a living room to do embroidery and reading, along with Gwenhevre’s bedchamber and even a small chapel.

On the eve of the insurrection of furry and feathery critters, the Visconte d’Avallon went out alone into the Morvand. Whenever storms explode into thunder, he rides through the terrorized woods. For him, these senseless outings were a ritual, when the smell of damp leaves filled the night air. Whipping his horse at a gallop, Thamory exclaimed:

“Vaillant, watch out for branches!”

“Don’t worry, Vaillant,” – the horse’s muscles ripping, as Thamory grabs the reins, “I know what I’m doing!”

Along the serpentine shore, back at the castle, Thamory’s heart bounded with joy. Following the hilly riverside path, his stomach rose and plunged, Thamory claiming in fury – league after league – the immense territory all to himself. No recreant, very sure of accumulating more and more guerdons in booty, he galloped to the guardhouse at the mouth of the dragon, not noticing in the darkness the cart, hidden at the corner of the wall for Gwenhevre’s escape the next dawn. If the storm were not so cloudy, the new rims on the wheels would have shone in the moonlight, but they were out of sight that night.

“Someone will pay for this!” he shouted to the guards, without specifying the reason for the threat. With twig scratches across Thamory’s face, he slipped into reverie, his steed piercing the first wall of the citadel, the Pen-Dragon’s body subject to the driving force of the horse. Without holding the reins, the viscount dangled limp but united with the horse. Somehow, Thamory knew to bend down, his eyes closed, mounting the slope to the next guardhouse, like a sleeping passenger.

Dismounting the horse at midnight, he turned to the mortified squire and rebuked him:

“This poor beast is dying, scoundrel, thou wilt drink the Cup to the dregs!”

At dawn the next morn, Thamory, under the influence of l’Esperit de la forest, staggered like a sleepwalker towards the council room, standing in front of the circle. The magic power of the Round Table suddenly changed into vapor, as the room filled with clouds and frequent rumblings, a mighty whirlwind stripping all tapestries and candlesticks from the walls. As soon as the tornado accelerated, innumerable screams of wildlife resounded with a deafening intensity, making Thamory stumble and fall to the ground in a trance, his mind overwhelmed by the assembly – their whistling, moaning, and striking of tails transmitted across the curtain.

Unbelievable as these wonders might seem, we must not doubt the avenging power of the Roy de la Forest!

By Matrona! What’s happening?

Suddenly the viscount’s face was bubbling like a hot stew! Frothing foam agitated the corners of his mouth, as he began to show crazy thoughts. Healing properties of psychic whirlwinds are known to all Druids. They cure by chance, here and there, the sick who seek remedy in a storm.

Hearing the noise, ten guards – four bearded and six beardless – entered with their axes and guisarmes to aid the viscount. But where is he? They see at the Round Table a creature rocking itself and muttering. With a bound, it stood up, then on all fours, it ran to prowl and bite its prey – those ten assembled bearded and beardless men! Bloody cries, in spite of their torn throats, lasted only a moment, the black bear of Avallon without mercy.

“Don’t worry, Gold Mine, I know what I’m doing, thou, my rich wife, tomorrow wilt only be a handful of ashes, burned alive at the stake for good reason, after this morning’s madness launched by the Round Temple, your conspirators of the Morvand!” If Thamory had uttered these words a little louder, Gwenhevre would have heard them outside these walls, she, stepping into the cart, accompanied by the son of the murdered Eschevin, these two youths in flight, their destination – la Butte des Fees!

My dear readers, I cannot describe fully the Butte des Fees. Everyone outside fairyland will fall victim to the curse, whoever touches or rubs this stone sanctuary. I won’t go there myself to see the monument – can you blame me? The son of the Eschevin also understands this danger, so he will take precautions while accompanying her to the end. What about Gwenhevre? Since the intervention of Merlin, just like Alain and Bele who swallowed the mushrooms, Gwenhevre has also become an enchanted creature, but she remains ignorant of the provenance of the ring put on her finger and about her own family tree in Petite-Bretaigne, thus adding more mystery to her identity, especially with the embroidered cloak in which the newborn at the abbey was wrapped and left – by whom and for what reason?

Departing at prime from the Castel d’Avallon, seated in a cart next to the sixteen-year-old son, Gwenhevre tries to converse but he neither cares nor wants to speak. So she fell asleep, transmitting her emergency dream to her pacifist monk, this call to come as a knight to make crimson the black bear. Taking all the roads formerly covered with thorns, alternately cleared and then covered again with spines by the Roy de la Forest, they discover a bank of spotted sand where the woodsrunner had lain.

“Hola! Come back!” he shouted, addressing Gwenhevre, “ma dame, wake up! This forest is enchanted, never have I known a more misleading path!”

In deep reverie, Gwenhevre did not answer him at once, not noticing that the cart had led them astray. But as she awoke, the bank emerged within view, and she feared some disfavor of the fees guiding the cart, so Gwenhevre proposed that they change paths to avoid more obstacles.

Before leaving the site, the son saw a golden circle shining on the bank. It was too beautiful to abandon. The son jumped off the bench to retrieve it. Never since the time of Vercingetorix had anyone seen a Wauleis torke more stunning. Whomever it served had left it with much freshly sprung and dried blood on it.

“Ma dame, I don’t recall having seen a torke as ancient as this one in my hand.”

“Oh, give it to me,” said the maid.

“But it’s mine, I found it!”

“Me sire, I’m sorry, I recognize it and know to whom it belongeth, I will give it back to him, prithee.” Much displeased, the sixteen-year-old son let it fall onto the planks at his feet. Gwenhevre bent down to take it and held it for a long time. She looked at it and contemplated the blood. Gwenhevre began to laugh.

The son begs to know why she’s laughing. She replied:

“I shan’t tell thee at this time, I’ll explain after the mission.”

“I found it!” But he wanted to hear the story of the torke. Never will the glances of a woman behold an object with more honor! She began to adore it as a relic on pilgrimage. A hundred times and more she caressed it, brought it to her eyes, to her lips, to her forehead and against her bosom and heart, finally enclosing it between her tunic and flesh, drunk with joy!

Out of modesty, the son could no longer witness such worship and turned his eyes away. Thanks to the fairies, in a rolling leap, they returned on the right path and continued to advance towards the Butte des Fees.

During the uncontested retreat of the furry and feathery critters, they exited through the dragon that morning, onto enchanted paths, all free as birds in the forest, except Alain and Roussel who formed the rearguard, and they, thus being easy prey, were captured by six Knights, who cut them off from the more advanced fauna in the Morvand. Then the chained duo was escorted into the bloodstained room, father and son forced to sit opposite Thamory. At the Round Table, without authorization, Alain speaks first:

“Sire, we didn’t come to give battle, but to show our strength before serving you.” After all, dear readers, Alain was stuck and a cornered Wauleis is a cunning cock.

“Druide, don’t take me for a dunce! Thou invadest my citadel, murderest my elite guard in this very room, and turnest into dust the Viscountess without mercy. Thou servest only the Devil!”

“Me Sire le Visconte, let’s reach an agreement!”

“Art thou deaf, Druid?” Thamory turned to his counselors:

“What nerve hath he, this Wauleis rebel!” At that moment, Roussel squirmed and bounced on his seat, while two guards seized him by his arms and neck to keep him in place.

“My son, calm down! I’ll take care of thy sister. Her ransom will guarantee her safe-conduct and return to the castle.” Then, addressing the viscount again, without authorization, Alain continues:

“Sire, if it pleaseth you, let not my distraught son distract us.” But what a whirlwind churned inside this Wauleis master-trickster, overflowing with rage and hostility towards the tyrant of Avallon, not letting his feelings show.

Dear readers, what is this ransom? For a tyrant as possessive, proud and selfish as Thamory, any ransom for a woman would be unacceptable, especially to free his wife who was supposedly part of the debris of the fallen tower.

Impressed with Alain’s composure, Thamory continues to listen.

“Me Sire le Visconte, my daughter Gwenhevre is alive – your wife – she escaped unharmed, safe and sound in a bastion of the Morvand.”

“What? Checkmate, thou thinkest? Dreamer! Ha, old man, thou art incredible! I should cut thy tongue out on the spot!”

“If you prefer to talk ransom without my tongue, so be it, Me Sire le Visconte, but my son and I would like to go out to breathe fresh air.” Alain stood straight as an arrow, beaming with confidence, giving to Thamory a ferocious glance which made him shudder from head to foot. Despite his agitation, he answers:

“Thy daughter? But Gwenhevre is an orphan! Druid, thou takest too much pleasure at night drinking pints of brianz in the forest.”

“Me sire, would you have the kindness to remove these chains to let us join the folk in the forest? Unity is strength. Taking my leave, I dare contradict you, this damaged room – I swear on the Holy Bible – no paw of the Round Temple touched it.”

Rushing towards Alain, Thamory was intercepted by two counselors who could scarcely restrain him. Alain’s imperturbable face contrasted with that of the viscount – his eyes on fire, sweat beading on his forehead. Thamory was, for the first time in his life, humiliated, and all his advisers frowned silently, awaiting his reply. During the pause, Alain chose this moment to laugh out loud. Thamory replies:

“Laughing liar, thou hast neither daughter nor need of the Bible. Thy savage life is over.”

“Her Pen-Dragon, I beg to differ on two points – your Roman imperial manners ought to be old-fashioned in the twelfth century; secondly, it’s natural for a father to defend his daughter. Why, however, doth her husband condemn her instead of protecting her?”

“Druide, thou darest to dispute with thy feudal lord, Protector of the Faith! I know, backwards and forwards, all charges against Gwenhevre.”

“Gwenhevre is a businesswoman and honorable scholar, mine own daughter and all my joy. Instead of being your bird in a cage, she would serve you better if she were free. What a Gold Mine! Why not protect her at all costs? She will better fill your coffers alive than dead. In Avallon, too many people perish each day!”

“Heresy is heresy! Dost thou boast? Thine ancestors practiced human sacrifice!”

“Me sire, now in Waule and abroad thousands of innocents are sacrificed while plundering their property! It’s what drives your wars!”

“Enough! Guards, throw these dogs of the Devil into jail and let them rot!”

In the twilight, Gwenhevre’s cart jumped and coasted to a halt under an old oak tree, along the Gallo-Roman road. The rustling of brittle leaves crackled under the wheels. With the full stop of the cart, sounds of nature enveloped the woods – crickets sending alarms, winds shaking treetops and the brush – intensifying the smell of a strongly-imagined presence – half sweat, half woody sage – Gwenhevre, dreaming of her unicorn.

“Look, ma dame, a monument on the rocky ledge!”

“Where, me sire? Oh, that one.”

“A hundred yards from here,” said Gwenhevre’s companion.

The Eschevin’s son headed toward the cliff to make sure it was the monument and not another structure. Gwenhevre fidgeted on the bench. During the journey, the movement of the cart had warmed her desires. Seated alone, she felt abandoned, her life at a pause – like the interminable lull of an adjournment in court. Gwenhevre felt herself in suspense, threatened by too much wasted time.

Until this morning, she had not noticed the son’s outspokenness, a characteristic she adored in men. However, in the dim twilight, he treaded away – a small grey spot on the hill. Insignificant as he seemed, Gwenhevre followed him with her eyes, beyond the reach of his voice and beyond his nervous energy. At this distance, he appeared only a vague memory and the shadow of someone almost forgotten from the distant past. Gwenhevre could not love a weak or vulnerable man. So she cast her eyes onto the Gallo-Roman road and then looked back up to see if he had somehow disappeared.

“My God,” she yelled out of breath, “did he brush past the monument?”

Unwittingly, Gwenhevre seized the torke in her tunic. Panic ran through her veins, as she prayed that the son, without fail, would remember the curse.

Five minutes later, a cloud of dust was rising in the air, the son descending heavily from the hill in the darkness. Gwenhevre followed him, she in her own cloud of agitation, unable to move or breathe.

When the son approached the cart, Gwenhevre was relieved and still confused to see him so pale and trembling. What had he seen? It was she who had remained the most uneasy in her dream world. Did he touch the monument?

“What aileth thee, me sire? Didst thou see a ghost!”

“Someone or something brushed past me up there! But I touched no monument of stone! Going down the hill, I bumped my head against a low branch. At the same time, I am furious and dizzy.”

Gwenhevre wasn’t suspicious of the son. Her life seemed safe with him.

“Sit down, me sire,” she whispered, still out of breath, “let me go meet the fairies who called me urgently. I’ll be back, then we’ll go to the baulme to take refuge.”

“No, it won’t be necessary to go up there. As I went down the hill, I realized I must protect thee from the danger on high. In fact, all the fairies fled!”

If Gwenhevre had reflected, she’d have realized that the son wouldn’t be involved in this project without personal benefit. She’d arranged on purpose his escape, but if she’d known him better, she’d have known his sly and selfish nature. All he did was calculated. For example, he knew where the monument was located long before their escape, having done a dress rehearsal in the forest. The son wanted to save his own skin by selling hers to the Visconte d’Avallon.

“I like it here, ma dame. Let’s spend the night in the cart and wait for the news from the fairies in the morning.”

Gwenhevre was already lost in another dream, rubbing her eyes:

“Good idea, me sire.”

After the full moon that evening, Gwenhevre’s former housekeeper passed the beggar she had seen many times. This time, passing him in l’Estree d’Avallon, she held her breath to escape the stench of his frock, as she looked straight ahead to avoid his eyes and outstretched hand.

There ought to be a law – she thought. What a shame to allow this beggar to circulate in public. It was not her fault, nor her responsibility, that this wretched man in rags was homeless.

Being an embittered woman, she turned abruptly toward her new lodging, but this beggar stayed on her mind. A 35-year-old working woman, she frowned at all the poor, seeing them as parasites of society. He must have no self-esteem. Hath he no family? He must be over 45 years old. I bet he never worked enough to earn a pension from a guild, she said with disgust.

It was strange. She’d never heard him utter a word, though she’d seen him fifty times. Probably, he’s a Wauleis or Jew, unable even to express himself in French! For this humble, free and pious burgher, no beggar deserves to be honored with a glance or greeting!

One time, from a distance, she noticed his ‘sad’ eyes and fumed thinking how he must have worked on this look to generate sympathy from passersby. Imagine, taking advantage of the weakness of others for a shilling – any dog hath sadder eyes and doth better work at begging, it’s their nature! The woman’s thoughts made her feel smug and proud of her own hard-earned possessions.

Inserting her key in the door, she turned it until the lock clicked, then opened it – everything was in order – her bed with two chairs and a table, all tidy and freshly dusted; impeccable floor; the room full of sunlight. If this trash is still there at dinner time, I’ll call the municipal guard. Someone must sweep away such garbage.

Before her captivity, another passing woman saw something else in the bewildered eyes of the same beggar. On the sidewalk, Gwenhevre had seen him three times on her way to the market. He didn’t talk to her, but she always stopped to chat and each time would give him the money intended for her commissions. Though ‘without a voice’, once he scribbled on the dusty roadway a response – “God bless you!”

He reminded her of an elderly client, a merchant who lost his fortune during a plunder, who then lost his family to starvation, shortly before winning the case against his creditors – with the help of Gwenhevre. He suffered such anguish that he committed suicide. Of all her clients, Gwenhevre cherished him the most. He had taught her to play chess and skate in the winter. But the realities of a cruel world broke his will, without his wife and four children. Perhaps this unhappy man, still breathing, needed only a kind gesture to remind him of his place in the family of men.

Thinking again of that client, Gwenhevre pitied all the more this beggar. Yet she feared the idea of becoming too involved. What would the burghers think of her? It doesn’t matter. The next day, she had intended to ask him a single question – “Where dost thou live?” She would help him even more. What if she accompanied him to the guild, could there be employment or housing or the possibility of receiving medical care, if necessary? He must have been lost, but, then, would he be frightened off if she meddled in this way? It doesn’t matter! He needed a helping hand for his recovery in society.

For sure, she would ask the question! And after a shave, a bath and a bed of his own, he would feel better. The sort of question didn’t matter, but the question of a friend would make him start his life again. She hoped her good intentions could help him help himself in the long run.

My dear readers, look at this beggar. Ha! He has the face of our spy, Roussel! Only Gwenhevre wanted to take care of this poor man. The other passers-by said to each other: “Look! What a stupid face! Thou hast to be an imbecile spending hours on the sidewalk, waiting for coins to fall! “Bravo, Roussel, spying all the comings and goings for le Temple rond!”

Dear readers, how did they escape their cell – Alain and Roussel? I know after asking Roussel. Remember, Alain’s magic is unlimited, and Roussel was in prison during the full moon, so he escaped by turning into a mouse, thereby slipping easily out of chains, remaining in town to reconnoitre the movements of the Round Table. On the other hand, Gwenhevre was never able to save the beggar with sad eyes, her promise made before her running away. In any case, Roussel continued to use the same disguise afterwards, since no one would have anything to do with the beggar. However, everybody loved to criticize his presence, like the housekeeper, saying the following:

“A real thief worketh to earn a living, and the best are cunning if unscrupulous. But a beggar! All he doth is stay put without moving for hours, without accomplishing anything. Or worse, some beggars are aggressive, while taking our ‘dirty money’, calling us all sorts of unpleasant things. These are the ones who are still too hypocritical to steal outright, without pretense!”

And speaking specifically of Roussel, they would say:

“But this one – of the stupid kind, I’ve seen him several times, so dirty, he receiveth what he deserveth, it’s little! I’ve no pity for him. In fact, I find his situation even normal, and the old street would lose its local color, if this beggar was looking for something to do. In other words, this wretch is part of the natural order – the rich; the poor; the dull-witted; the sly. Everyone will find his place in society...”

Roussel had purposely chosen this location, where he pretended to be mute. This stratagem had made his work easier and concealed his life as a spy. Loving the unexpected at night, whether full or new moon, his fervent question before going to bed was:

“Where shall I sleep?”

He had two lairs – one behind the hedge next to the municipal infirmary, where he kept a stock of woolen blankets and a case of Flanders goudale – or in the shadow of the stairway leading to the crest of the cliff at the end of the citadel. Roussel preferred to settle near the stairway in the shade, where the sound of the river lulled him to sleep with the crushing of waves against the rock. As a spy, Roussel had the impression he was beating the system – without a work schedule, as was necessary when he was mayor; no taxes to pay; no social obligation. Bats and mice were his only companions.

When I finish this mission, he thought, I’ll have to get more blankets against the cold. Soon, the snow will begin to cover the Morvand. Or, maybe, I shall stop sleeping at the cliff, to visit it only when the sun is shining. In any case, Roussel never thought too far, following Alain’s instructions to the letter. Although the former mayor was cunning, adaptable, intelligent, a good listener and very perceptive, he was mostly unpredictable and playful. In short, everything went better for him with Alain in charge of all decisions made by the noisy parliament of furry and feathery critters.

My dear readers, so where is Lanz, the Amorous d’Avallon? How did he lose his torke, and why is there fresh blood spouted onto it? Is he still alive? Can he save Gwenhevre, if she still lives? Was the son of the Eschevin capable of committing a double-murder at the Butte des Fees – our two lovers slaughtered? Shall I finally be able to finish this novel with my own pen and describe them embracing each other?

In any case, I’m a fatalist who counts on the survival of Lanz. His name was chosen by Viviane la Fee, his adopted mother. Let me explain. A lance symbolizes for Druids lightning and thunder, as well as virile power, even the axis of the world, and let’s not forget that the pacifist Lanz wants to see this world regenerated and less violent! The lance can also represent the progenitor of the human race – which explains our expression ‘the family tree’, while tracing our relatives from generation to generation. In contrast, among the Druids, the cauldron symbolizes the roundness of the Earth and femininity, the stiff lance symbolizing its natural complement, masculinity. It’s the same Parfite Amour we might find in a fruitful couple – the feminine lock, the masculine key.

Since the insurrection of the fauna and their tumultuous entrance into Avallon, support for Gwenhevre diminished and fear of witchcraft exploded to the point of seeing half of the homes now festooned with mandrakes. Everywhere, roses are fading, their petals falling. The public is beginning to demand Gwenhevre’s death at the stake to restore calm to their stronghold of Christian faith. All the burgesses begged Thamory, their champion of Good against Evil, to defend them against the infidels of the Morvand.

Three days after the insurrection, at the Round Table, still in rubble, while the Knights and Thamory were chatting at leisure, a valet appeared, running in from a neighboring room, holding a bloody spear, its iron point dripping crimson along his arm. Then, suddenly, the spear caught fire so bright that the candlesticks faded, like the moon when the sun rises.

“Mes sires,” said the valet, “here’s a Wauleis talisman delivered with an urgent message from the Round Temple. The Druid and his son still live free as birds, the two having returned to the Morvand. You must pay the ransom or face the consequences. The Druid will presently address you.”

And, voilà, at this moment, Alain des Bois appeared taking the burning lance, in order to negotiate the ransom.This time, however, Thamory speaks first:

“Druide, thou must believe everything the Church teacheth and follow all its instructions, that way, thou wilt defend it, and I shall forgive thee.”

“And you, our Protector of the Faith, you certainly respect all the weaknesses of the people!”

“Oïl, but never heresy! Doth thou not love, Druide, this country where thou wert born?”

“Which one, me sire? Waule or France? I’m faithful to the land of my ancestors, not to the Roman Empire of the Franks.”

“Druide, in this Christian kingdom, there’s room for mercy, but we never shrink from the enemy. We must make war against infidels constantly and mercilessly. I only carry out my feudal duties, if they’re not contrary to the laws of God.”

“Me Sire le Visconte, will you be able to keep your word? Are you not the enemy of your wife?”

On the contrary, Druide, I’m the Protector of the Faith and give largesse to all!”

“So much the better, your wife, my daughter Gwenhevre, is pregnant, so she’ll be exempt from all torture, let’s forget the ransom!”

“Druide, we don’t agree on what constituteth justice or what maketh this country so ill. The Knights are raised according to the sacraments of the Church, all obedient to her precepts. Their consecration is a sacrament in itself, we, fiercely defending the Holy Church with our vow of initiation.”

“But war remaineth the sanctioned enterprise of the Church. And this ‘honor’ to chevalerie dishonoreth her. I don’t want anything to do with this bellicose faith!”

“Heretic! Thou wilt not know paradise!”

“Me sire, what’s there for me? Why go to such a place, when I can have more in the Wauleis afterlife? In your paradise are losers – the old, wrinkled and smelly priests with the lame and infirm, those who squat all day in front of the altar, stupidly yawning at crypt relics, wearing their pilgrim’s cloak, barefoot and without socks, all dying of hunger, thirst, and cold. What an atrocity!”

“Thou shalt burn in hell!”

“Into your hell, I prefer to spend eternity! There go the elegant and learned clerks of letters, as well as knights mutilated in costly tournaments, with all valiant warriors and horsemen. There too, as in the druidic paradise, you’ll find the most beautiful ladies, who, here on earth, enjoyed two or three companions besides their husbands. Why not? Sire le Visconte, in hell go all gold and silver, all furs of ermine and marten, harp players, artists, thinkers and philosophers, and all the kings and queens of France!”

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