The Enchanted ~ Part 2

In this story of Parzival, one of Arthur’s knights, I hoped to achieve a dark fantasy that honors the Lord.

 “I will renew a tale that tells of great fidelity, of inborn womanhood and manly virtue…” Wolfram Von Eschenbach, Parzival 

Parzival and the Hermit dug the Lady’s grave near the Hermit’s kitchen garden. Parzival noticed traps and snares settled against the hut wall, and birds in cages hung from the eaves: magpies, ravens, and crows.   

“What are these, good Hermit?” he asked.  

“I study God’s winged creatures,” the Hermit said. “Each has its ways and language, a native tongue in which they call out, converse, and woo. And I note the deceivers among them, those with the flesh of birds but souls of men; for they betray themselves by an ignorance of such languages and by suddenly crying out with the voice of a man or woman.”  

Parzival stared, amazed. “There are many marvels in this world, man of God!”   

They worked on. The sun sank low in the branches and at last the task was done. Parzival turned to leave but the Hermit persuaded him to stay the night.  

“The Enchanter—who is a shape-changer—will come to see where she is buried,” the Hermit said as he set a snare between saplings that overshadowed the grave.  

Parzival marveled at all the Hermit had told him but especially this, and the spark of anger still alive in him rekindled.  

The two shared soup on the step of the hut, peering into the twilight and watching for the Enchanter, but he did not come. So Parzival attended to his horse, then with his sword still on, went inside to guard the grave from a chair by the window. Soon his eyelids grew as heavy as drooping pinions, and he slept.  

He awoke with a start, his face wet with tears, to the sound of fluttering wings and raucous cries.

The Hermit put a hand on Parzival’s shoulder, and together they squinted into the darkness and saw a struggle in the shadows.  

Lantern in hand, the Hermit ran out with Parzival. They found an aged raven caught splay-winged in the snare and fiercely clacking with its beak. But its cries were not those of any raven, so Parzival drew his sword to kill it, but the snare swayed and tossed, moving the raven beyond his reach.   

The Hermit set his lantern down and with his knife clipped the ends of the snare, so that the raven was rolled up in it. “Behold!” he said holding their prize aloft. “It is wounded—but not from the snare. This puncture though seeping is a bit older.”  

Parzival leaned closer to look. In his mind’s eye the bronze pin glinted in the Lady’s hand as she tried to fight off the Enchanter and injured him. . .   

The raven glared at Parzival with wrath and shame as if guessing his thoughts, then croaked, “She is gone, gone forever…!”  

Parzival gripped his sword like a dagger, but the Hermit held him back. “With nothing to staunch the wound, the raven will die.” And he tossed the raven within its snare into a cage hanging ready, then closed and latched its door.  

After a fitful sleep, at first light, Parzival went out with the Hermit to see the great bird already grown stiff.  

The Hermit said, “We shall burn it.”  

So, they built a fire and destroyed the raven’s corpse, and the soul of the Enchanter, the great man in his great robe with its vile symbols, sprang forth from the fire with a shriek as unholy angels seized him.  

Parzival stumbled back. The Hermit cried out to God. Fire fell from the heavens upon the small fire and burning corpse.  

Parzival gnawed his knuckle. When he grew steadier, he said, “If only I hadn’t challenged him…”   

“Each went to their place,” the Hermit said. “She to God in Heaven, he to the pit!” 

Then, having seen yet another great thing under the sun, Parzival set out again on his quest. Rain fell as he rode his mount uphill along the slippery path toward the Castle and beyond. The Castle was shrouded in mist for it was in flames. He met many fleeing and saw the Lady’s Mistress, looking hideous from terror, and bareheaded and bald, being hurried along by her servants.   

Noticing a little maid who had fled without her shoes, he rode her on his mount for a time then set her down at the gates of a City where she had cousins to take her in.   

And so Parzival rode on. During his wild trek, he continued to wonder who the Lady might be, she who was buried in the wilds where she had suffered. People say he never found the Grail but came to know the things of Faith are certain – for Christ is true and faithful forever. He understood then the Lady was simply sleeping in the earth until Christ’s return, while the Enchanter and his works were burned to ashes.

And so, at last he gave his memories to God, and grew ever more eager to see his sweet Condwiramurs, his wife who was waiting at home. 

END ~ FINIS

LINK TO PART 1

The Enchanted ~ Part 1

In this story of Parzival, one of Arthur’s knights, I hoped to achieve a dark fantasy that honors the Lord.

“I will renew a tale that tells of great fidelity, of inborn womanhood and manly virtue…”  Parzival by Wolfram Von Eschenbach 

Parzival encountered many wonders during his quest to find the Grail and to know if the things of Faith are certain—great things under the sun. But of all of these, none could compare with the lonely Lady whose name he never learned. For a time, he even abandoned his quest in order to guard her when she walked at twilight in the Enchanted Wood beneath the snow-clad summits of Bavaria.  

To remain near her, he camped on the side of the hill on which the Castle stood that was her dwelling place. It was the lair of an Enchanterhe suspected, for at times he heard strange music and a tumult of voices.   

Securing his mount, he would descend to a rocky ledge overlooking the clearing in which she walked and watch her from leafy cover. Her hair lay loose over her shoulders and her feet were bare. Often, she paced as if in distress. A broach of garnets was pinned to the bodice of her gown with a pin of bronze, and when she sighed it seemed that she had been wounded by the pin and that the garnets were drops of blood. She seemed fearless, for although she carried no weapon, she did not run from wild creatures but observed them from hiding with a gentle smile.  

Parzival watched over her with his sword at hand but did not approach her, for he had a wife, virtuous Condwiramurs, who waited at home for his quest to be done. And so, in his way, he kept faith with Condwiramurs while playing the angel for his unknown Lady.   

He remained nearby until summer and one day was startled by sounds of merriment in the clearing. He hurried to the overlook. Lords, ladies, and servants – seated on blankets spread out on the grass – feasted there, his Lady among them.  

As he watched, he realized that she had a Mistress and Master whom she and the others attended. How strange they were! Her Mistress wore a hat with two prongs like the horns of an Egyptian idol; her Master wore a robe stitched in gold with peculiar symbols that Parzival had never seen, even in all his travels.   

From his lookout, what passed below seemed like a pantomime, then the wind swung around, and brought sounds ot talk and laughter. From this he learned that the Master was indeed an Enchanter – a Hexenmeister – whose spell must be holding the Lady at the Castle against her will. Parzival noticed how she drew back whenever her Mistress looked away and the Enchanter seized the moment to whisper to the Lady.   

Parzival held his breath to hear her low reply, and like doves frightened into flight her words flew to him. With a hand on her broach with its pin of bronze, she said to the Enchanter, “Sir, do not speak to me in this way.”  

The Enchanter stood, leveled his gaze at her, and strode off, while her Mistress gave her a look of scorn. Then these great persons, in their great robes, went away uphill with their courtiers at their heels.  

The Lady remained behind, weeping. Parzival’s anger kindled—he must save her! Soon she grew calm then dried her tears. Looking up into a tree, she put her hands palm to palm with her fingertips to her lips and smiled at squirrels playing there. Then, gazing toward heaven, she sighed.   

He jumped down and stood a short distance from her.   

She smiled. Her face was young, but her dark hair was streaked with silver.

He remained where he was, remembering Condwiramurs and fearing to return the Lady’s smile or take a step closer.  

She smiled more gently, as if understanding him. “God bless you, Knight!” she said. “I have seen you keeping watch over me. Only one hour each day my Master allows me a little freedom, and you have been the angel whom God sent to guard me and give me hope.”  

He longed to shorten the distance between them.  

She lowered her gaze and said, “Lord Jesus protect us!” Then she turned and walked up the forested hill toward the Castle.  

Parzival’s gaze lingered on her retreating figure. 

Someone stepped out of the shadows, a Hermit roughly-clad and bearing a staff.  

He studied Parzival. “She is not for you or any man, Knight. She is a prisoner of suffering. And you? Do you not have a wife?” 

Parzival’s face grew hot. “I have not broken any vow!  Someone must help her!”

The Hermit leaned on his staff. “And why not you, you think? You know the answer better than I. Though perhaps, if it is God’s will, you may yet help her.” 

Parzival returned to his camp where he paced and raged, and at last was still. Then he dressed and armed, taking as much care with his horse’s trappings, so that the two were arrayed all in crimson with ornaments of purest gold, articles he had won from a king he had slain, his own cousin, though he had not known this at the time.   

Then he galloped his mount uphill between the trees toward the Castle, until the Hermit appeared on the path holding out the staff to bar the way. 

The Hermit said, “Why do you ride against the Enchanter with only the arm of flesh to help you? For many days I have observed you and would not have believed you to be such a fool.”  

“By my oath to defend the helpless, I must save her!” 

“Though you may be a sworn knight, where the Enchanter is concerned you’re little more than a child.”   

Parzival rode his mount around the Hermit, while the Hermit cried out to wait. But Parzival spurred his horse on all the more until he arrived at the Castle gates. Here, he shouted his challenge to the Enchanter to let his fair prisoner go. 

Soon the gates opened, and the Enchanter’s Champion rode out in armor of dusky blue, on a dark steed dappled with silver. The two knights fought on the hilltop then down into the trees with great clangs and clashes of arms, while those from the Castle watched from its wall. They dismounted and fought till exhausted. At last, Parzival prevailed and killed the Champion, by pinning him to a tree with a lance, and in this way the man’s sins overtook him.   

Again, Parzival rode to the gates and shouted his challenge. But a figure in a helmet with a crest of raven feathers limped to the wall, pulling the Lady along with him, and pushed her over the parapet.  

Casting aside his weapons, Parzival hurried to break her fall, but was too late. Tenderly he cradled and kissed her while her life ebbed away. As he did, he noticed her broach was gone and her hand bloody.  

The Hermit scrambled up to Parzival, gathered the weapons, and together they brought the Lady down to his hut in the forest, Parzival carrying her and the Hermit leading the horse.  

As they walked along, Parzival spoke. “If I hadn’t remained here, she would be alive. When I abandoned my quest, I brought about her death.”  

The Hermit answered, “She is free now.” 

END OF PART 1

CLICK FOR PART 2