As regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know, December through Twelfth Night (January 6th) is the time of year in which I look at versions of the tales of Charlemagne and his Paladins. These are the legends about Charlemagne, not the actual history, so there will be dragons, monsters and magic.
FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE.
ROLAND VS MORGANA – We pick up where we left off, with the Paladin Roland, nephew of Emperor Charlemagne, having captured the sorceress Falerin. She informed Roland that she was merely a subordinate to Morgana, the Lady of the Lake, and it was Morgana who really imprisoned the many warriors that Princess Angelica wanted Roland to set free.
To save her own life, Falerina had told the Paladin everything he needed to do to reach Morgana in her castle in the middle of the lake. To prevent the treacherous Falerina from having a change of heart and warning Morgana, Roland tied her to a beech tree, to be set free upon the completion of his quest.
As Charlemagne’s nephew approached the shore of the lake in question, he followed Falerina’s instructions to block up his ears with flowers to blot out the singing of the Siren that lived in the lake. He sat down on the shoreline and waited until at last the Siren rose from the water and began singing her song.
Though he could not hear anything himself, Roland could see the Siren’s mouth moving and saw birds and forest animals lured by the song gathering at the shoreline, thoroughly entranced. When the Siren assumed that Roland was as mesmerized as the beasts, she sprang from the water to try to seize him and drag him to a watery grave.
Our hero was prepared for the move and grabbed her by the hair before removing her head with one swift swing of the enchanted sword he had taken from Falerina in the previous installment. Next, still following instructions, Roland coated his entire body with the blood of the Siren to make him invulnerable to the rest of Morgana’s creatures.
As the Paladin walked along the shoreline, headed for the bridge guarded by the brutish Arridano (see the previous chapter), he was impervious to the claws and fangs of the lake monsters who emerged to strike at him, while all of them fell to his new sword.
At last Roland came to Arridano’s bridge. Last time around Arridano had defeated and captured Roland’s cousin Reinold when he tried to gain access to the bridge leading to Morgana’s castle in the middle of the lake.
Arridano began grappling with Roland as he had with Reinold and at length repeated his move of gripping his foe and leaping with him into the lake waters. The two combatants continued their struggle until they sank to the very bottom of the lake and THROUGH that bottom, emerging on a patch of dry land while the lake and its waters were now suspended above them, like the sky was above land.
Roland and Arridano broke free from each other’s clutches and began sword fighting. Before too much longer, the Paladin left the bridge guardian dead on the patch of land. Next, our hero walked along that strange land underneath the suspended lake waters above, traveling all the way to the other side of the lake without needing the bridge.
At length, Roland had reached the island in the middle of the lake – the island upon which stood Morgana’s castle. He continued walking as the land rose at an incline. Soon he had risen to the level of the waters, then continuing upward he emerged on the shore in front of the castle.
The beach was littered with precious gems as plentiful as pebbles but ignored them all and proceeded toward the castle. Upon entering, he found not the typical stone interior but a vast meadow planted with trees, fruits and flowers.
Roland ignored these, too, and walked on, until he came to a fountain, around which danced the beautiful Morgana, dressed in a green garment with white trim. Beyond Morgana and her fountain was the tower within which she had imprisoned countless warriors from around the world, most of whom had fallen to Arridano before the bridge.
Both the enchantress and the Paladin knew that if he could grasp her by her hair she would be as helpless as Falerina and the Siren had been. Morgana stopped her dancing, shocked at the presence of this stranger, and fled from him on foot.
Roland pursued her and Morgana summoned up wind, rain and lightning but our hero never once faltered or hesitated in his pursuit of her. After quite some time he succeeded in catching up with her and seized her by the hair. After regaining his breath, Roland demanded of her the key to her tower prison.
Morgana complied and, pulling her along with him, Roland approached the tower, inserted the key and turned it. The mammoth door opened and dozens of warriors flooded from the prison within. Amid the mass exodus of freed fighting men were Roland’s cousin Reinold and Florismart, the lover of the maiden Flordelis, for whose sake Reinold had braved Morgana’s castle.
As Roland and the mob of former prisoners made their way to the lake’s bridge and back across to the mainland, Morgana took advantage of the confusion to slip free of our hero’s hands and disappeared. Any of the escapees who tried taking with them any of the gems that littered the beach near Morgana’s castle were mystically prevented from setting foot on the bridge and were forced to abandon the treasure in order to reach freedom.
Once on the mainland those soldiers of many nations parted company and set forth for their homelands. Dudon the Dane, like Roland and Reinold a Paladin of Charlemagne, was among the newest prisoners of Morgana and he told Charlemagne’s two nephews that he had been sent on a mission to gather men for the Emperor.
Charlemagne needed all able-bodied warriors to protect Christendom against the Muslim Colonialists who occupied most of Spain. Dudon and Reinold obeyed the summons and headed westward to stand beside their Emperor.
Roland was still obsessed with the Cathay Princess Angelica, and refused the summons. Instead he and the liberated Florismart let loose the bound Falerina and then headed eastward to be reunited with their ladies Angelica and Flordelis.
I’ll be examining more tales of Charlemagne soon.
FOR MORE MYTHOLOGY AND FOLKLORE CLICK HERE