Lanz & Gwenhevre: Love Against the Tide

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Chapter VI: Changeling of Brec’h-Elian

"In its cocoon
Caterpillar
Limp and ugly
Thinks itself all stiff
Changing
Into a beautiful
Butterfly"

Anonymous Trobairitz

A rustling made him wobble in bed, Alain dimly seeing two shadows burst out the door, their load knocking about.

“Bugibus!” he shouted swiping the darkness. How could he let the fire go out? He had slept like a log, and how! In a twinkling, the two laden ghosts had slipped into the forest. Alain wanted to pursue them but knew he could never catch up.

Sharply, Alain turned and spied Roussel still asleep, his breathing steady, but where was Gwenhevre? Getting up, his knife in hand, he stumbled on something. Alain recovered his balance, fell again, thumping hard his knee, dropping the knife, losing sight of it:

“Bi—bracte!” he groaned. Limping gingerly he found empty where Gwenhevre had been sleeping, her sheets pell-mell! Incredulous, he squinted and blinked his eyes, trying somehow to regain sight of her.

Behold his cabin! Laid waste by a meticulous act of destruction – musical instruments shattered into pieces beneath the dumpster, all the barrels gushing ale, their content puddling on the floor and mixing with whey and cream! The two intruders had used the sink as a vice to demolish doubly, even ripping the door from its hinges. Finally, a pile of towels lay smoldering on the floor, evidence of attempted arson to burn alive the two sleepers – Alain and Roussel!

All this he understood giving but a glance, but the thing that held his attention was near the door, the heap of multicolored fabric that had made him stumble when he got up – Gwenhevre’s cloak! Kneeling down, he was astonished to see such contrast between the immaculate condition of the mantle and so much devastation. What a splendid cloak at the heart of broken dishes and musical instruments reduced to rubble.

And there he saw his knife, its blade hidden in a fold of the mantle, the tip sorely felt in the open wound of the adoptive father. An odd and useless thought crossed his mind at this moment of crisis – he wondered if Gwenhevre, who had become his beloved daughter, had been able to fall asleep before the assault.

“What ... abducted?” he said to himself wide awake! It was Gwenhevre – that object knocking about, carried into the woods! Alain turned and made way toward the rubble to look after his adopted son. With trembling hands, he checked Roussel’s condition, trying to figure on the spot how he might save and free Gwenhevre. Alain was preoccupied with worries till dawn. Then both Roussel and Alain limped out the burning cottage, carrying no baggage – the fire set on purpose this time by Alain – the very moment Gwenhevre’s captors arrived in sight of Avallon.

Before the captors entered the fortress, a dark river glided before them, like a water serpent hissing towards its prey. The carters followed the course with their captive. Against the opposite bank, rocky cliffs splattered and foamed with the force of the current. Then the carters turned left and saw rise four towers of Avallon, the castle’s dungeon atop the rest. Straight ahead – a dragon-shaped skeleton, its stoney spine spanning the river. At the end of the dragon bridge – a drawbridge, open days but closed at night. Toward this access, the carters approached, their captive bound.

Along the bumpy ride, Gwenhevre had no thought of her own safety, reproaching herself for not waking up earlier at the cottage. She could have prevented its ruin in flames. At that moment, all bruised and tied up, she agonized over the fate of the sleepers in the cabin – is it still possible to help Alain and Roussel in any way?

A flash of light was caught in the corner of her blindfold. What, another storm? The cart came to a stop; one carter jumped down; the other sat whispering to a watchman. Gwenhevre’s arms and legs were tied. Near her, armed men, while she had nothing to defend herself. Besides, she knew a hasty escape would not work, not while she was tied up – but too much time had already lapsed! Every second counted! For example, only one guard at this stop, but how many would surround her inside? The cart had yet to pass other checkpoints, and God only knows how many armed men would be happy to harm her, but she couldn’t fathom the reason for her captivity.

Other questions plagued her conscience, preventing her from seeing clearly a solution:

“Why this hatred toward me? Who ordered my kidnapping?”

When the captors broke down the door to Alain’s cabin, she was fast asleep. Then she saw two shadows rushing towards her, one holding out both hands to gag her mouth. Despite the darkness, they could not ensure their own anonymity. With so much business, Gwenhevre knows everyone in town.

Maybe they’re losers in court. But who would want to commit violence against a young lawyer of sixteen? What a pity! Gwenhevre counted in one breath a dozen, but which of them would be able to coordinate an abduction in the woods? Four or five! A small number, but would they kill her? No, no one! This idea calmed her a bit. Then she jumped to another question – are they hired killers?

And that noise ... is the hatch tight?

She shoved her feet back with all her strength. Open! At the same time, the carter ascended with a bound, smelling of goudale from Flanders, his leap making shake the planks and dropsides, as the cart rolled forward.

“It’s a chance I have to take!” she said.

Gwenhevre waited a little to distance herself from the checkpoint. Then twisting, she slid toward the open hatch, flying out, her legs tied, tumbling against the pavement, dislocating her right shoulder, thumping her temple a heavy blow. Before losing consciousness, she heard, without slowing down, the cart pressing on without its load.

For a year now, dear readers, what’s become of Lanz, l’Amorous d’Avallon? Discouraged, he became a hermit in the Bois-aus-Moines, midway between the city and Alain’s cabin. In a pond, he was swimming the day of the kidnapping, when Thamory’s men spied and arrested him. As soon as he saw them, Lanz rose from the water and greeted them on the bank, so courteous that no one, he thought, could tire of contemplating his fine manners. Shamelessly, our bather proclaimed:

“Mes sires, I know, no way would you want misfortune to befall me. I’m a priest of the Holy Church, and God protecteth me in all places!”

His tongue was loose as usual. However, Lanz didn’t know what more to say, wearing neither shirt nor breeches in the presence of four armed men. Then the sergeant ordered him bluntly:

“Put on thy frock, monk, and follow us.”

In a bold tone for a captive, he replied:

“Neither the dragon that spans the river, nor your viscount do I fear, nor your sharp weapons. I’m preparing to go on, mes sires. I’d rather die than retreat!”

“Monk, thou braggest in vain, like a crusader in the Holy Land! Silence! Stretch out thy hands!”

Pour les Amorous, all they suffer is sweet. Lanz looked round, seeing nothing, not even the dragon of Avallon, that could give him fear. Wearing handcuffs, he raised them to his face, noting from the corner of his eye the magic ring on his finger, his sight directed beyond the other side of the snake. Was he bewitched? Nothing on earth attracted him any more – except her! Loyalty in Love would hold to the end – either in heaven or in hell:

“God help me!”

This shout was misunderstood, the sergeant interpreting it as the willies, not as the suffering of Parfite Amour. For Lanz, to see Gwenhevre must happen, but it seemed no more likely to see her again than to hold back the flood he was facing, nor at midnight to prevent bats swarming the battlements of Avallon.

No, he can’t stay a monk! No, he can’t even breathe without her!

Without a shadow of a doubt, this poor defrocked soul knew for the first time the joy of Love that comes later on. From head to toe, Love made him a green log that burns hotter once lit! A log so slow to light is worth a thousand times more!

Dear readers, Lanz will know this loyalty he so desires, but beware! Love is blind and beyond any shadow of reason. Hate is too. Let’s pray to Dame Loyaultet and all the saints of the Church to see this Parfite Amour grow! Let us raise our hands and take the oath – that Lanz – in giving everything to Gwenhevre – find what he wished before.

Monk or Lover, he who loveth is obedient and faithful!

Throughout a week, every day until nightfall, lasted the mass torture of captives. Many burghers remained prisoners, many were killed. Aching and sore, Lanz awoke in subterranean darkness. He could feel enemy eyes through dimly-lit slots. Jailers could observe him, but he couldn’t see them. After the bright sunshine outside, Lanz became blind in a barricaded baulme and didn’t budge. By degrees, he could distinguish objects in the shadows – cobwebs; rusty chains; broken porringers. Cautiously, exhausted, he shifted towards a dark corner, his every move measured. If he could protect his head, arms crossed, he would have some chance. In little time, jailers would return to torture or kill him. So, with their axes and polearms raised, he’ll pretend to be unconscious! Why? He must outsmart them to get out alive and find Gwenhevre!

Before preparing his defense, the click of the opening grill! If he moves an inch, he’ll never be able to feign unconsciousness. He dares not make a sound, but one of his knees cracked, repeating in echo. Every muscle tells him to do the opposite of what he is planning to execute – “Run or take the chain and use the porringer as weapons!” But he knows too well he couldn’t do that. Long, long ago, at the Lake of the Fee Viviane in Petite-Bretaigne, he had promised his adoptive mother to renounce all violence! Lanz, the ‘Changeling of Brec’h-Elian’, was once a knight, armed head to toe – a peerless warrior – transformed by his promise into a nonviolent and unarmed monk!

If he survives torture this day will depend as much on cunning as any weapon he is holding. Suddenly, the jailers advance. Lanz calms his breathing, stopping even his pulse, capable as a youngster to hold his breath under water nine hours at the Lake in Petite-Bretaigne. The bludgeon falls and cracks the porringer covering his head, Lanz feigning perfectly his death.

After her failed escape, Gwenhevre was lying in a grey marble chamber at the Castel d’Avallon – fine white linen sheets; rich blanket; embroidered pillow – a strangely privileged prisoner, wavering between life and death, yet ever faithful to the wild man of her dreams:

The sleepwalker was wearing a fire-red tunic, and at the neck, a golden band decorated with emeralds and rubies. Holding a silver comb, she stood before a basin decked along the edge with tiny gems. She arranged her two braids, lacing each into four parts. To wash herself she released the braids while lifting and exposing both arms up to the armpits.

What skin – as white as the foam of a wave. Arms, hands and fingers purer than the anemone blossom, and cheeks redder than digitalis. The eye of the falcon is no more quick and shimmering than her green eyes. Visible through her tunic so sheertwo beautiful breasts, thighs as smooth as alabaster.

Never a maid more worthy of worship had ever been seen before on this earthly plane. She must be one of those fabulous fairy creatures that crosseth the mists of the curtain to dazzle mortal men.

Crossing this other dimension, Gwenhevre heard the voice of her beloved:

“Open to me, my sister, my dove, my perfect one! Save me; shake me! My mane is filled with dew!”

The somnambulist gazed at him, head to tail; her only desireto wake up in his arms. Suddenly her beloved called her again:

“Rise, hurry, my love, come! I doffed my clothes; why put them on in bed? To sanctify our pledge I washed my soul in holy water!”

Every day this same love call is repeated, over and over, Gwenhevre haunted by the only man her heart desireth. Thus in a dream state, day and night, she seeketh him, and each time the sentry guards ask her:

“Thou art still hunting that creature for whom thou pinest?”

She replieth to them:

“My soul-mate wanteth to insert his key and gladly will I open the bolt, but the horned stallion turneth about and disappeareth into the woods. I looked for him everywhere but only see him in my dreams.”

Finishing her chanted ballad the guards beat her and tear off her wimple. Thus scorned she lamenteth:

“I beseech you, O daughters of Avallon, if ever you find my unicorn that you tell him I languish with love. Yesterday’s snow hath melted away. In this bright season, intoxicating flowers recover the earth, and doves, by well-matched couples, are being heard and understood.”

Dear readers, let Gwenhevre dream. Let’s return to the Changeling of Brec’h-Elian – Lanz, l’Amorous d’Avallon, the former Master of Gwenhevre, who has become the battered Lover. L’habit ne fait le moine! Can he rescue our poor Gwenhevre? What do you know of his character and origins? Like Gwenhevre, he is courageous and also from la Petite-Bretaigne. Of ancient Wauleis nobility, he was born the son of the governor of Yssouldun. This garrison in Berry resembles Carcassone in Provence, Yssouldun being located between Armorican Waule and Angevin Engleterre. After a tumultuous childhood, Lanz finally gave up a chivalrous life to become a pacifist intellectual, and at the age of twenty-two in Avallon, he became the smitten Master of the brilliant Gwenhevre.

In the Breton language, Brec’h-Elian means the ‘hill’ of ‘the herdsman’, referring to abundant treasures stacked aplenty in this impenetrable land of oak, alder, beech and birch, where also many ponds are located with pure, fresh water, as well as wildlife –such as stag, wild boar and deer. Greatly blessed is this immense forest, where the inhabitants practice all kinds of ceremonies.

These druidic liturgies date back to olden days and include, since the Romans, the rites of Christianity. For example, the Priorie de Nostre-Dame de Penpont (pen = ‘head’ in Breton and pont = bridge in French, meaning headbridge in Armorican French) was founded in 658 at the center of this sacred landscape. The Christian monastery was developed by Judicaël, a tribal king from Domnonia, under the protection of the monastic rule of St. Columban, an Irish monk who arrived at Saint-Malo in 590, to spread and recall the words of Christ in a Europe overrun by so many Northern pagans.

From his native Irlande, Columban crossed both Cornwalls – the English Cornwall and the French Cornwaille, then all of Waule and, thereafter, Allemaigne, Ostriche and Italie. After the fall of Rome, his evangelical work was essential, not only for converting Germanic invaders, but also for re-Christianizing the countryside. In fact, Lanz saw in Columban’s example the possibility of building a more fraternal Europe, wanting to follow the steps of the Prince of Peace, Jesus-Christ.

Brec’h-Elian thus entered the annals of history with this priory, which has since become an abbey. At Penpont there is also the Castel de la Dame du Lac, an integral part of an ancient burial mound for funeral rites, but the less known and most enigmatic site is the Gardin des Moines near Trehorenteuc, very hard to find. Then, close to Campeneac, the Tombe des Geants stands out. According to Wauleis tradition, the locale always chosen as a shrine is a forest, to bury their dead and honor their gods. In its vast shaded woodlands, Brec’h-Elian perfectly fulfills all conditions to maintain this cult.

The mysterious Brec’h-Elian is also associated with two legendary lovers, the magician Merlin and Viviane la Dame du Lac, the godmother of Lanz, the ‘Changeling of Brec’h-Elian’. Merlin and Viviane met at the fountain. Wandering at ease through Brec’h-Elian, the magician came to the fountain and sat down to rest. All at once, the fairy Viviane arrived, whose mother – the wife of the caretaker of Brec’h-Elian – had prophesied that the wisest Druid of the world would fall in love with Viviane and that he would grant all Viviane’s wishes. At their first meeting, Merlin told Viviane all his magic secrets and promised to see her again in a year. At the second meeting, Viviane still wanted more wisdom, and he granted again what she asked. Finally, Viviane wanted to know the ultimate spell that would bind him eternally to her. So he told her, and he disappeared from the world of men, transformed into a stone captive, and thus Viviane became more powerful than Merlin.

Dear readers, next to this fountain is found the Perron de Belenton, a stone that imprisoned the soul of Merlin, and alongside grows a large oak from which hangs a golden basin. In springtime, if a single drop of that sacred water spills onto a rock nearby, it turns into steam, ascending to heaven in great clouds filled with hail. The air becomes thick with shadows, menacing with frequent rumbling thunder, and a terrible hailstorm follows, without mercy stripping trees of their leaves. As soon as the storm ceases, countless birds perch on bare branches and begin to warble with deafening intensity, making stagger all other creatures of the forest who sway in a trance. As incredible as these wonders may seem, eyewitness accounts abound aplenty.

Please note, dear readers, looking for the Perron de Belenton is a way to get lost. Many trails run through the area, and the sacred fountain always turns up by surprise. A few slabs of stone surround the water hole, the spot overshadowed and hidden by a bushy dervee. It can surprise with its simplicity, but there are other distractions that divert seekers of the site, for example, the Serein de Belenton, an icy wind that smells of death after a hailstorm. You must really sample these mysteries to understand the difficulty of gaining access to the Perron de Belenton.

Par Matrona!

Even the surface of this fountain bubbles like hot water! Air bubbles agitate the surface, and the spring seems to want to talk about itself. The healing properties of Belenton water are known to all Druids who go there to bathe children, hoping to heal mange and mental illness. In fact, the name of a neighboring village Fole Pensee comes from lost crowds roaming and looking for a cure.

In Brec’h-Elian, beware of appearances. And all diseases among men are not obvious either, often hidden. Anyway, in Belenton, one is never alone, willingly or unwillingly. Nearby is the refuge of the wauldin Eon de l’Estoile, the ‘Prophet of the Apocalypse’ with his band of cutthroats. The whole area was terrorized last year by these outlaws when they destroyed the small chapel near the fountain.

Eon de l’Estoile was the monk who proclaimed himself ‘The Anointed of God’ in 1145, before completely demolishing this chapel to protect druidic secrets, knowing that the chapel was hiding within its walls a supernatural gateway. Some say the Belenton Fountain provides the same kind of bridge between two worlds, being the antechamber to the crystal palace of Viviane, la Dame du Lac, the godmother of Lanz. Despite heretics like Eon de l’Estoile, this Belenton Fountain is eternal and fabulous, only offering its sacred secrets to those who want to linger.

Dear readers, Lanz’s life is told like a child’s dream, but it’s all so true! Let’s not forget that his father, the governor of Yssouldun, had only this one son, but Lanz never knew that father. Lanz always believed his father was Viviane’s lover – Merlin. The fairy Viviane had abducted Lanz to avenge the brutal policies of the Governor against the sorcerers of the region, but Viviane ended up worshiping her captive, educating and protecting him as if he were her own son.

Overlooking a subterranean valley, the crystal palace was built by Merlin for his lover Viviane, and the palace had purposely the appearance, at the surface, of a simple pond to preserve the domestic tranquility of this very powerful fairy. Therefore, Viviane remained bound to this Val-sans-Retour. Ironically, like Merlin – his soul immured in stone, Viviane too was trapped beneath the lake, both, one to another, untouchable and solitary.

On the day of the kidnapping, the wife of the governor of Yssouldun had left her newborn son with his nurse, asleep on the banks of a pond, while the baby’s mother was caring for her husband on his deathbed. When she returned, the mother found the child in the arms of a beautiful stranger who, indifferent to the pleas of the mother, plunged with the babe into the water and disappeared. This lake is but an illusion, created by the magic Viviane had learned from Merlin who taught the fairy all his powers. This optical illusion conceals an entire valley and subterranean forest where la Dame du Lac reigns in a crystal palace, in a Land of Cockaigne where Lanz grew up to become a knight, the most valiant warrior. Despite his prowess, Lanz remains morally too honest to be a courteous knight. He can’t lie to anybody. Above all, he mastered the lighthearted and carefree behavior of a gentleman, seducing la court du Lac, physically and morally, according to their rules of gallant conduct:

“When on horseback, run over hills and downstream, break thy spear in tournaments.”

“In honoring women, take good care of thy body; it must be prized as much as possible.”

“Wear a pleasant face and jolly attire for her; thou wilt inspire joy and pleasure.”

“Be generous – give thy whole heart; even if thy body leaveth her, thy heart will stay with her.”

“Never cheat – that thou be committed to only one.”

“Stay close to her; cultivate friendship with her friends and family.”

“Accept the ups and downs of Amour – sweet times, bitter times.”

“Keep composure despite circumstances and thou wilt embellish life and warm hearts.”

“Beware of naughty words and pride – both are foolishness.”

“Choose a discreet companion, another man in whom thou confidest thy heated passion.”

But with time, Viviane regretted her imprisonment at the Lake, despite her riches and magical powers, and wanted to transform otherwise the fate of the ‘changeon de Brec’h-Elian’, so he might know a life other than that of a warrior. Consequently, she urged him to abandon tournaments to become a pacifist, and, as did St. Columban, to transform Europe by fighting against all the terrors that dwell in the human heart, not with the sword, but with his pure spirit and faithfulness to God. This way Lanz would distinguish himself as a monk in a more audacious manner – without weapons!

A former knight, Lanz, is not made to kill his brothers, but like all Lovers to suffer and be mortified.

Aye, Lanz knows now how to teach, having been sent to Bevres by the Dame du Lac to the Benedictine community of Val de Grace de la Cresche to obtain his licencia docendi. Aye, he taught the liberal arts, including Latin and Roman poetry, and his teaching specialty is called the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic), and, thanks to his pedagogical talents, his pupil Gwenhevre became a renowned lawyer. However, his passion for the fine arts comes from the fascinating collection of objects in the palace of the Lake, where he grew up. Lanz admired the technical and artistic quality of these ancient objects, for example, earthenware made on the potter’s wheel, richly decorated with complex, curvilinear patterns. In fact, Lanz claims this ancestral style is still evident in the bas-reliefs that adorn the newest cathedrals. According to him, Gallic craftsmen were skilled, in particular, working metal. Iron was widely available and used for a variety of reasons, from making tools and weapons to luxury items, such as fancy andirons and slave chains connecting, during the imperial era of Rome, six slaves at a time by their necks.

In like manner, stained glass and illuminated texts today reflect this ancestral style dominated by the abstract and linear, used in designing ordinary objects as a way of embellishing everyday life – sword scabbards, harness ornaments, fabrics, pottery, and, in some remote Gallic tribes, human bodies are still etched in blue with woad.

Because of his Armorican education, Lanz saw himself as a mere wandering disciple of Christ, a new Columban. Before leaving the palace of the Lake, to study pedagogy in Bevres, Lanz promised his adoptive mother:

“As I’ve told you often enough, I’ll not do anything contrary to the commandments of God. I’ll wear your gift, this magic ring, in all assaults against evil, I, always unarmed, never to kill anyone. I’ll never kill anyone!’”

Dear readers, what a strange promise to declare anywhere, at any time! Is it really possible to follow God’s commandments in this world, without seeking glory; without revenge; without killing our enemies; having no grudges – when there’s so much pleasure using weapons at our disposal, the most ornate and refined? I think he’s a naive dreamer, Lanz the Pacifist! Will he keep his word and teach a lesson to this world always and forever at war? On the other hand, Lanz is honest and valiant, for whom everything is possible. Between valiant people like Lanz and the self-centered who never keep their word, there is also this huge difference: a valiant man would be angry to hear praise about his prowess, but the self-centered, in the face of danger, speak grandly of their own actions and consider all opponents to be fools. So, dear readers, as a former knight, Lanz, now a pacifist monk, has became the most enigmatic Lover.

“Help! Help!”

“These ribaulds are dishonoring me!”

At that precise moment, while passing Gwenhevre’s chamber, Thamory saw three men holding her uncovered to the navel. Stark naked, the jailers were sweating profusely around her bed. Yet this sight gave Thamory no desire. Instead, furious, he seized a weapon off the floor, the large axe capable of slicing the spine of a cow. Their agonizing cries lasted but a moment, the Viscount of Avallon doing his duty. After twenty blows, Gwenhevre was covered with their blood, splattered all over and around the room.

Transported immediately, washed with care, she remained horrified. Gwenhevre prayed to God – she, the only person in the fortress to beat her breast and accuse herself of sin, as if these crimes committed against her were her fault. Regarding the wild man of her dreams, Gwenhevre had deep regret, feeling she had already lost him. Her beauty dulled suddenly. For weeks, she couldn’t talk, speechless for almost three months.

As soon as Gwenhevre was imprisoned, she should have been guarded only by women. In her first chamber, on the contrary, Gwenhevre was being overseen by those indecent men reduced by Thamory to pools of blood. Her second chamber was larger, containing a sink, a table, two chairs and a dresser. Once a day a wooden bathtub was set up, for which maidservants brought water heated on the kitchen fire.

During Gwenhevre’s imprisonment, here are everyday pleasures enjoyed by Avallon’s bel monde within the very same walls! Every evening in the great hall, torches blaze with such brightness that we forget the dark, serpentine river. Old and young sires like playing dice, la mine, chess and checkers. Chess is very fashionable! In this palace, gilded nails adorn the ceiling with beautiful paintings in rich colors. Thamory had magnificent boards mounted on trestles, with massive ivory sculptures – the bishop with his miter, the knight fighting a dragon. The two main pieces on either side are the kings, or the king and his minister, who follows his king, play by play. In this sumptuous and well-lit hall, everything is divinely furnished. Courtiers go from one game to another without hurrying, without shoving.

Thamory only thinks about winning, to let others lose. He neglects nothing and knows how to charm his opponents, always to take advantage, never distracted from his goddess, Dame Fortune, while collecting each week a hundred-thousand escus. Being the richest man in Avallon, Thamory, still single, attracts the attention of courtly dameiseles. Courtesy obliges the ladies to greet the viscount by kissing his eyes and mouth, such gestures quite insincere but required. Full of gold diggers, the hall also serves as a dining room, with elegant tables where long talks succeed the meal – the first course each night – haunch of stag seasoned with pepper, cooked in its own fat, followed by pheasants, partridges and venison, washed down with strong, clear, vermilion wine – then the noble crowd, dressed to the nines, rises and dances till dawn.

What a whirlwind till dawn! There’s music and animated voices non-stop, the bel monde laughing heartily, but nothing going to the heart. Of course, the Church condemns these frivolous pastimes – board games, theater, all forms of dancing, and even the physical exercises that make bacheliers muscular at university, tumbling and wrestling for sport. However, despite the Church’s ban on these amusements, games spread and flourish.

Please note, dear readers – this fashionable society of Avallon is more dangerous than false. For example, Gwenhevre, imprisoned without cause, is not the same person as before. Along the wall of her chamber, above the bed, there is a horizontal pole to hang clothes at night. Like everyone else, Gwenhevre used to sleep naked at home, but since the assault against the maid, she’s too afraid. Now she wears a flannel nightgown and never leaves her bed, except for a daily bath. Once a week, the maidservants come to wash and comb her hair, to groom her best they can, but Gwenhevre remains deeply and painfully distant and mute.

Since the arrival of Gwenhevre by cart, no one has yet explained her captivity. In his room next to hers, Thamory has just spoken to his eschanson – Thamory wants to marry Gwenhevre, the famous Dame Putemoneye, and her deplorable condition suits him perfectly. At this moment, he’s undressing at leisure, accompanied by two minions from the court. Each morning, they wash his hairy back, trim his locks and shave his face, the court calling Thamory – behind his back – ‘Artos’ (Bear in Wauleis) because of his incredibly pitch-black hair that stands out and grows so fast that lackeys can easily grip his regrown beard after only four days!

When will this collective suffering end, and who can save Gwenhevre from so much pain and injustice? Who? How to free her? Is it really possible? In Avallon, might makes right.

Yesterday Thamory’s men threw Lanz’s ‘lifeless’ body into the dark river. Under water he held his breath as long as necessary to snake his way to a nearby bank, where he could emerge without being detected. In the woods, will he cross, by chance, the path of Alain and Roussel? Alain could identify for me the sleeper who transmitted images of the wild man ... who knows? I didn’t invent this story, dear readers, and only write facts I’ve been able to double check.

For example – without any doubt! Lanz floated under water to the shore, thinking only of his beloved, repeating in his head: “I love thee, ma parfite, and will be with thee, nu a nue.” But how can this too-green log overcome all of Thamory’s guards to save her? What’s his pacifist action plan? I myself don’t know, and I’m writing this story! And Alain and Roussel, these two men are condemned and targeted, so how can they protect and care for Gwenhevre, physically and morally?

Help! Enough violence!

The Gallican Church takes the lead at this time in Europe to discourage continual wars among feudal lords against each other, those who also maltreat and slaughter their own vassals – men and women and children. With the Pais de Dieu all combat is banned on certain days and seasons, like our hunting seasons. No, I’m not kidding. It’s true! Will this decree limit violence in Christendom and promote more stable conditions? Otherwise, one day, the city of Avallon will become a ghost town!

Gramercy to the monastic centers of Chartres, Orleans and Paris for opening this new path toward peace, just as Lanz is also trying to do, in following the ways of St. Columban.

We shall see, we shall see...

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