...was not so rosy as in fairy tales.⚠
(This chapter is in a whole rather⚠, which means it is not recommended to read it, if you want only marvel. It is worth reading only if you want to understand the rather tortuous path of Aurora projected on our Earth, such as the Eolis fortunately never knew.)
Let us see this little stronghold of Capderoc, as the early European Middle Age had hundreds. No matter the place or the exact names, which were changed for discretion. In the twelfth century, castles were still quite primitive, especially in this remote countryside, rather big bunkers than palaces. However, amenities and refinements were starting to emerge, and singers and hurdy-gurdy players, especially from the South. Things were in facts very unevenly distributed, and the ready-made image we have of the mediaeval times actually took many centuries to shape itself.
Capderoc was therefore one of these many small castles, from one of those little barons who ruled all over Europe, in a country of hills and forests. A square wall, four corner towers, an entrance, a rectangular tower in front of the entrance, and in the courtyard, against the wall, the chapel, the housing for the priest, servants and soldiers, plus a barn, mill and blacksmith shop, all of this in a very narrow space. What a promiscuity! The iron of the smith sounded for endless hours, and when drunken soldiers were brawling, one had to endure them anywhere in the castle. It was not possible to go from one building to another without passing in the yard in full sight of everybody. The front door was always closed, and one could get in or out only at day, and yet with good reason. No way to go wandering... In the grey courtyard, often muddy, between the steep rough stone walls, there also was the well, and in a corner, near the manure from the barn, the latrines: ⚠⚠⚠... It was as pleasant to live here as in a prison, but by lack of being able to imagine better, the occupants of this place were finding it nice: Ah castle life!
In the housing of the master, in the dungeon, and in the large reception and celebration room, some research had covered the raw stones with hangings, and even wainscotting at places, not counting blazons and other banners. But despite this ostentation, the decor remained harsh. Obviously: black smoked ceiling, weapon racks and boar heads with terrible eyes, were really not incentive to delicate feelings... The winter was bitterly cold. We guess that only the apartments of the master were somewhat heated; servants and soldiers had to be content with the bakery or with the gross fireplace of the guard room.
The only somewhat nice place was the chapel, but one could not expect it to be warm in winter! God was far and high for the humans of this epoch... Simple and bare, this place still had its walls plastered and painted in pale blue, with a great very naive crucifix. The priests always keep their places presentable. It was small: spirituality was not Capderoc's speciality. The barons just contented themselves to straighten their position with God, a thing which at least was less expensive than with their suzerain.
This day precisely it happened that they were burying the former baron, killed in fight. His son Regnald became the new Baron of Capderoc. He was just seventeen, with his blonde hair like the sun. Everybody was thinking that he was beautiful and strong, a true lord and master! He was laughing his head off while cheering serfs and soldiers. His gruff merriness attracted him all the sympathies, and from there the respect of all the servants, soldiers and workers. But this was a psychology calculation, as Regnald was in his inner self a cruel and sly being. For that time, the warmth of youth, his curly blonde hairs, his drive, his astonishing liveliness endowed him with a radiance, a pleasant appearance, that he was keeping, as he was skilful to use it.
Regnald was a force of nature: the neck of a bull, an enormous build, thick arms and thighs. Insensitive to cold as to weariness, he sustained the most severe blows in his war training, without never allowing himself with the least complaint nor any hesitation to do it again. Still again to be admired and to be considered de facto as the boss. He was not clever in the common sense of this word; but he was very psychologist and cunning to achieve his purposes. Regnald spent most of his time with his sergeants and soldiers, in the yard in front of the castle or in the arms room, to train for fight. All the day the castle was resounding with metallic crashes or with the groaning of fight, unless the same fine team transformed into a host of inveterate hunters roaming into the countryside with a great din, to the despair of cultivators and the great fear of everything in the forest able to run or to fly. Often one could meet Regnald in a passage, sweaty and bloody, covered with iron, stinking the tallow used to avoid rust. And Regnald, really dead pan, granted you with a joke or a mischievous eye blink.
The long evenings were spent in feasts and singing, which were not poetries, you guess, but the guys, at that time, had not learn to speak with the TV, and their silly lewd jokes came out with true voices... Hem... It was a great epoch!... ...
...So to say, in this case.
So Regnald governed that way for two years, seemingly without trouble. But his sympathetic look could no longer deceive his subjects. Regnald believed that when one fools somebody once, one could do it again indefinitely. He soon showed very harsh with the serfs, shamelessly trampling the fields in his unceasing hunting parties, and then levying heavy taxes, saying it was required by his suzerain. Soon the jails of the castle were full, and the gallows were working much more often than in his father's time. Still worse, when the matter was to question the accused persons, with the abominable method of that epoch, the rumour arose that the hood of the torturer hardly hides a very recognizable build... It was surely true, as Regnald in fact was really sadistic. He just not accounted with one thing: that his soldiers were also human beings, with families out of the castle, in the villages, who used to speak with the prisoners to avoid boredom during the long days on duty... Regnald could well monitor and spy through an arrow loop overlooking the yard, his bad repute grew quickly. Fortunately the power of a baron on his subjects was not without limits, and Regnald had the obligation toward his suzerain to keep an appearance of justice, of fairness and charity. But he turned things so that this obligation was a supplementary pretext to oppress and spy his people. The justice, it was him who administered it, and he managed to always find culprits, and at need victims too. The ambience in the Capderoc castle was already not very refined; but it soon became as unbearable as that of an American spy thriller.
After two years passed in this way, Regnald's counsellors reminded him of his duty: he had to take a wife and give an heir to his name. Regnald began to grumble: to satisfy his desire, he just had to go into one of the farms... But suddenly he guessed how to turn this situation at his advantage. It happened that his suzerain had to thank him, certainly not of some glorious chivalry feat, as they never much boasted of this affair. But it had to be an important one, so that the suzerain decided to offer Regnald his daughter Gunniverre...
Gunniverre was the ideal of the Middle Age, as much as Regnald was its shame. She was raised in her parent's court, which was certainly much more educated that the one of Regnald: there were weapon rack and boar heads only in the arms room. (which was still a progress...) They were receiving visitors from afar, who were singing poetry in place of bawdiness. But these differences were at last only superficial, and the daily life was also very harsh for the serfs and for the animals in the forest.
Gunniverre and her sisters were born and had lived in clean rooms, had learned to sing and even to hold some music instruments. They were spared the harder works, while still not living in a dream, as their father requested them to be able to do some tasks like cooking the bread, weaving, gardening or picking fruits. So Gunniverre was a lovely sixteen girl, in full bloom, cultured and educated at the best available in this epoch.
What was the best... Certainly she knew to take a rhyme, but do not believe it was ideal. The evolution goes upward, and so it goes downward if we look in the past, not the reverse. So it was thought that men go to war, it was normal; they went hunting, it was normal (Saint Francis of Assisi was still being waited for...) the serfs toiled and lived in shacks, it was still normal, that suspects were tortured and hung, still normal... in the Middle Age, contrary to the theory of the golden age, the sensitivity was only awakening, and the admirable achievements of this time were the feat of only a small enlightened elite, and still it had to avoid showing publicly what it really was.
If Gunniverre was representative of her time, however, she also was an exception. She was thinking «like everybody», that is to say very little, but she had much more artistic sensitivity and Compassion than her contemporaries. Not too much, as she could not live in this atmosphere, but enough to put her uncomfortable in many occasions: war, executions, slaughter of pigs... One day she went to a confession to the abbot. This brave priest was one of those who chose this profession for doing the good, who really believed, which owed him an intuitive knowledge far beyond what he learned in his orders. He scolded her al low voice: «fool! Do not tell this to anyone! God will understand you and forgive you, but men, never. Scoot out quickly now.» The only solution for Gunniverre would be entering the convent, the only haven of tranquillity available at the time. But she was dreaming of a man with whom she would be happy, and who would understand her... She dreamed of this, as often young women, but also because she was unhappy of not being able to communicate with anyone. Often she felt sad with no apparent reason, and the world seemed an absurd wait of something which would never come... Listen to the music of the time, reconstructed by modern artists, and you will feel the heavy and hopeless fatalism which emanates of it...
Gunniverre's father was not thinking he was doing wrong while offering his daughter to Regnald, quite on the contrary. Gunniverre gladly accepted, on the basis of a simple five minutes interview in her father's castle: Regnald, who had washed himself, seemed merry and cheerful, and he heartily agreed when she said she knew to rhyme and make music. Gunniverre thought she have found a sensible man with sparkling eyes; but what had turned on Regnald's eye was only the plump breast of his bride. He could still make yesyesyes to her ideas, it cost nothing to him...
During the wedding, Gunniverre forgot her bitter thoughts and sadness. She was very happy, happy of the celebration, happy to sing the responses in the great church of the castle of her father, full of gratitude for this God who granted her what she had dreamed of. She so often went in this church, and had prayed and prayed... because she could not imagine that life is just an absurd hopeless expectation. For Gunniverre, God, it was poetry, music, sunny forest, and a man to share these happy moments. She so often pulled the spindle dreaming, singing, calling the patience. Maybe one of those infinitely nostalgic songs survived until today...
There was only one trouble in this moment of happiness: at time to say «yes» she saw, clearly outlined between her and the brave abbot, the figure of an hilarious devil (he was almost looking sympathetic!). She hesitated in her heart, but could not retain the «yes» which automatically came out of her mouth, without any involvement of her will. It could not be otherwise anyway: She was theoretically free to refuse, but what reprobation, what a scandal would she raised... Anyway she did not understood at all what this apparition was meaning in such a moment. The little devil disappeared, giggling, and Gunniverre painfully shook the vision off her mind. The celebration continued with songs and feasts; but Gunniverre was now engaged on a path of suffering and delusion. Happy to sing in the big hall full of glittering candles, her heart pinched to hear the already hoarse voice of her new husband. Happy to hear his loud laugh and spirit, embarrassed to see him scarfing dirtily of both venison and salted meat. Regnald's diet was atrocious: meat and wine almost exclusively. Only his strong constitution allowed him to resist. He did not knew that people had been sentenced to death in this way. Anyway, in his pride, he would willingly believe to be immortal.
The arrival in the Capderoc castle was even worse: the steep and gloomy building vibrated only with battle and combat. Suffering and despair oozed from its sinister cellars, full of condemned innocents. Not a blade of grass in the yard, and no view outside. The castle of Gunniverre's father was larger, with outbuildings and trees; she could admire the birds from the window, and enjoy them singing. Here the only thing they had to do with the rare bird was to set traps. The wedding night was even worse. Gunniverre's mother predicted her a good time with this young and strong man. In fact he was a poor lover, brutal and fleeting. Gunniverre who expected to swoon of love, had to use a lot of imagination over the years to end to feel something.
But, and this is where you will be surprised, Gunniverre was not disillusioned. Would she do it, she would have to face a huge and terrible disappointment. She should have to admit that her husband was a rough and nasty man, who would terribly mess up with her life. She would not have any other way (and no other desire) than suicide. No way to divorce in this time!
What she did will look very strange to your eyes: she hide to herself this terrible dis-reality. An elementary logical reasoning, a grain of intuition could have told her. But she did not dared, she had not enough strength, she was unable to follow this direction, chasing away of her consciousness all the evidences, down to the least suspicion.
Stated right that way, «to lie to oneself» seems impossible. Should we try to make this purposely, we would never be able to do this. I must recognize that this is really a mystery and one of the strangest human mind defilement; but we really do this in many occasions, benign or serious. And really we are not aware of this! This probably explains how humans who live out of true life have so much trouble to understand their situation, despite their sufferings: How to get the strength to accept that all our life was wrong, that our values are false or misleading, that gestures we thought normal turn to be criminal? How to gather the courage to be banned by a family or a society which would remain in its delusions?
«To lie to oneself» is perhaps the most direct expression in actual Earth life of what Adenankar was calling the Earthling's disease, the refusal to accept the Universal Laws of Life. Aurora, when she lived on Aeoliah, could never imagine that such a thing would be possible. However Gunniverre did it, two centuries after Aurore flew the same situation in the bamboo glen. It was too much for a human psyche, still childish, in more fragile and destabilized. Gunniverre chased the thought of the little devil, the hoarse voice, the bird traps, the foetid breath... She played the game: She was the Baroness of Capderoc, a fighting and feasting fief! Ahah! She was Regnald's wife! She loved him, and did things in his way, to sing bawdiness, to gobble meats trickling with sauce, (Whole legs without knife nor fork, I shall not describe further...) to squawk while admiring the brutal jousts, to wipe the earth from the face of her husband, and, at night, to finish alone while the other was already snoring.
Regnald was looking her do, with a discrete half smile happy of himself, as do evil beings when they see a pure being falling into dirtiness.
Gunniverre seemed definitely lost. But in reality she was already safe. Paradox? No: nuance, but which did not escaped to the Cosmic Guard in his marvellous space ship, so high among the stars, far above Capderoc. Aurora-Gunniverre had not integrated evil in herself, she was simply deluding herself about her spouse. It was certainly not enough to recover all her terrible fall, much work was still required for this. But the strongest tie was undone. For her soul, but Gunniverre the Earthling still had suffering ahead. She felt very guilty, thinking that she was herself the cause of her suffering, with her sensitivity and her dreams of perfection... She was in fact hooked to her illusions about Regnald, as the member of a sect to his false guru that he confuses with a perfect guide. She was not aware of this, but her noisy laughing and large gestures were hardly hiding a dull sadness. Still hear at the songs...
Regnald really not cared about his wife at day, and he allowed her to do whatever she wanted in her rooms. Happily, as for everything else she was literally a prisoner. She could go out only in company of her husband. She was never allowed out of the castle and tournament fields, and could have languished if she had not been one of these women fragile in appearance, but in fact of sturdy constitution. She could withstand this warped life for years. She had two personal rooms, one of them just besides the common bedroom. She fit the other with all what she could find nice or poetical. She again played music and sang. So she led a double life; she did like most women at her epoch: poetry, yes, but out of real life. In texts, not in gestures.
Despite the common feasts, we guess that the relations between Regnald and Gunniverre were almost non-existent. He was even not able in bed, how could he do better in any other area? Yet Gunniverre tried to speak with her husband. At first he snorted, then, tactical, he began to heed her a few minutes from time to time. Did Gunniverre hoped to bring him back to the Good? She spoke of Poetry; he replied that he liked it. He could bear listening to a poem, and even made himself looking good despite a furious desire to scamper off. Instinctively, he played the game of Gunniverre, and he kept her in her desires for redemption. This could serve him some day. Other times, Gunniverre questioned him about what he was doing. He invariably replied that he was preparing for the war. Which war? Why? This was men's business, as he said. But he had to be ready, as there would be wars anyway. God wanted it so. We have to oust the enemy out of the country. And for that we need high walls and spears and swords and armour. What Gunniverre was thinking about these idiocies? She believed them. She had completely abdicated, for the moment at least. And birds? «God gave them for us to eat» And their songs? «Well listen them, if it is your pleasure, me my pleasure is eating them. I go back to the armoury».
Freedom, an unknown word... at that time. Yet Gunniverre knew it... and respected it. So, she also swallowed the story of the birds. Since it was «his pleasure»... She even felt guilty to get Regnald upset, to speak against «his freedom». By which mystery was she so much under the power of this Regnald, who was none other than the soul who had driven her so low, four hundred years earlier, near some stake? Fear? Weakness? Illusion? Gunniverre was a strangely mingled patchwork of Aurora, of Regnald, of stereotypes of the time. At times she was completely like the Baron. This abdication of her personality and perception was the only way to avoid suffering martyrdom... She had to think and feel like him, not to feel pain!
The body of Gunniverre seemed to be more receptive to the thoughts and desires of Regnald, than from her true soul, the one of Aurora. In fact, at this time of her life, Gunniverre did only tumbling back to the bottom, facing the tragedy that she had to unravel. But would she have the force? Nothing was less certain. Her personality seemed to freeze between her two roles, and yet Gunniverre was less and less often going in the poems room. This existence would undoubtedly end like this, like with so many other sentient beings, miserably, in a complete brainwashing in the Regnald sauce.
But yet the stars continued to shine with magic, in the billions of light years. And, imperceptibly, the Universal Life was putting pieces in place around Gunniverre. Aeoliah never abandons her children!
Then happened a series of apparently insignificant events, at least commonplace. Gunniverre had a son. Regnald, Baron of Capderoc, had a heir. Gunniverre had him completely in charge, at least so long as he was too young to attend the arms room. With this responsibility, she somewhat relived as a person. Only mitigating circumstance for Regnald, he was able to be moved by this baby who pulled his beard while laughing. Fatherly instinct? Germ of bounty in him? Who knows?
Gunniverre befriended the mother of Regnald. The poor woman did not deserved nor the death of her husband, neither such a son. Gentle and reserved, she remained a long time silent and secret, in this castle merry as a prison. But one day Gunniverre heard her singing, which created an immediate and unswerving link. Gunniverre was no longer alone. The mother of Regnald did not dared criticizing him by name, but she still showed her bitterness. Gunniverre realized that Regnald was not harming only her. It was a step for the future, to get rid of the terrible guilt which crushed her, and that he maintained by clever innuendo, by carefully dosed outbursts of anger. Often his face and his voice became terrible, apparently against other people, but it was said in such a way that Gunniverre could not avoid to feel targeted... So her heart was racing, and she fidgeted nervously at something that her husband liked.
The mother of Regnald advised Gunniverre to speak with the priest of Capderoc. Curiously, she never thought at this herself, merely attending the mandatory rituals of the time. She found in the priest of Capderof one of those ageless elders, with his heart good like bread. The good priest was beginning to wonder what God could expect from him in this infect castle. Do not imagine that this priest was a saint or even a source of truth; his views about the world and about life were imbued with the same blunders and cruelty than his contemporaries. This cassock wearing simpleton never tried to disabuse Gunniverre, for the simple reason that himself saw nothing to disabuse, he himself understood nothing. So he brought her no element of truth, but only his warm sympathy. Who had as much value... because the truth is often more in the subtle heart to heart exchanges than in sentences.
Gunniverre was even allowed for a moment of happiness: Regnald went at last to his dear war, which lasted more than two years.
Despite these tragic circumstances, Gunniverre felt light. She even accepted this feeling. The castle was more calm, without bawling or weapon clanking. It was ruled by the two oldest advisers, who allowed the women with more freedom to come and go. And after all Gunniverre was the Baroness. As we noted she would certainly be more happy as a peasant woman, but she was the Baroness. An occasion to, at last, stand as an adult, as an independent human being. But she did not took all the profit of this. She even conceived some pride of it: the influence of Regnald, still. Her son was still too young to follow his father, but he was already initiated to war plays... and to hunting. If Gunniverre had recovered some freedom of movement, she was still far of recovering her freedom of thinking. She even showed to the boy how to make bird traps! Between two poems... What a mess! She was really the Baroness...
The war, that fortunately Gunniverre never saw, paradoxically made encounters easier. The great road in the plain was hazardous, so travellers preferred to go through the parallel valley, by Capderoc, despite the bad repute of this place. Usually only second-rate jugglers came, or hermits who quickly went their way... Now pilgrims were coming, musicians, journeymen, tradesmen. All these people asked for hospitality in the castle, for one night or some days, and it would have been a serious breach or the role of lord that to refuse them. And they never missed to liven up the long evenings with the demonstration of some talent, or they unpacked their trunks filled with exciting wealth: fabrics, jewels, spices... Gunniverre seized this occasion to make some shopping and decorate her apartment of nice blue fabrics, and even of a great indigo wall covering.
One day a pilgrim brought some stories of Wallonia. He told them the life of Hubert, a local lord, who was possessed by the cruel passion of hunting. Nearby everyday of the year he went mercilessly tracking all what was walking or flying. One day he was running a deer on foot, in the shadowy forest propitious to the Mystery and Marvel. But the deer suddenly faced him, and a great luminous crucifix appeared between his antlers. Hubert heard an inner voice commanding him to completely renounce hunting and change of life. What he did, even to the point of entering the orders.
Hubert was canonized soon after, and you know that today he is called the saint patron of... hunters! So you see how established stories can hide the coarsest lies, and how a nice tale can be distorted into vile propaganda...
The story of Hubert made a strong impression on Gunniverre... She dreamed several times of a deer commanding her to change of life. But she was not a saint, by very far. «To change of life» is first (and mainly) a matter of changing ideas and feelings, and for this she had first to get out of Regnald's influence... Complicated. In facts Gunniverre was really hoping to get free, but unconsciously she was scared... She was unable to regain control on all her thoughts, but she acted selectively with a symbolic act: the deer head which was ensinistering the marital bedroom disappeared. (I apologize to the deers for the word to ensinister; but a deer head has its place and beauty only on the neck of a deer happy in his forest, not nailed on a wall)
At that time she felt the need to often go to confession with the brave priest. What she told him? That she was thinking to act according to the morals (of the epoch!) but even so she wondered if she was really acting after God law. Each time she came, whatever she said, the priest always sent her to recite a Pater and an Ave Maria, just to say that she was doing penitence. But he was absolutely not convinced she had anything to confess. Himself was moved by the Hubert story. The cruel mind of the epoch was swaying in this somewhat free castle. The priest was hearing at Gunniverre, lengthily, with a benign serious look, his head nodding gently. He had not too much customers in Capderoc, so he had plenty of time. He asked her a question when she stopped speaking, to allow her to continue. Then he told her «God pardons you my daughter», and when she had finished her Paters: «God is with you my daughter» and he granted her his good smile. It was a kind of psychotherapy before the invention, which much helped Gunniverre.
War ended, with a dreadful defeat. The suzerain of the Baron, father of Gunniverre, was beaten and killed into shocking conditions. His fief was taken by the winner, that we shall name the Duke, from discretion. Some days later, Regnald's mother died without warning, in an incomprehensible way. Gunniverre was very affected by this double bereavement. She was now alone.
Or worse. Regnald went back to the castle. His pride was badly hurt, and he had now the taste for killing, with bloodshot eyes. He never said anything for the deer head, but he took note. He did not care at all about this deer head, but he could not bear to see Gunniverre escaping from his influence, even for very little. She would pay.
Regnald was of this kind of people, that we often encounter, alas, who will never, but really never tell you the real reason why they hate you. Maybe a trifle for you, that you could easily give away for them. But no, never they will avow the true reason. Then they make you thousand different grieves, about nothing and everything, put all their resources into finding thousand occasions to persecute you, and if ever, in order to defend yourself, you give them some blow, then they will made of it the best pretext, justifying all their hatred and beyond, including the one they already had before.
(Author's note: At the time I wrote this, about 1988, the concept of stalking did not emerged yet. However I was precisely confronted with such a situation, which also caused two suicides and abuses to children. The descriptions of this chapter were therefore first hand, and they were at the time a way of exposing the problem, and especially how the victims are kept mentally captive. Since, others did it better than me, especially Marie-France Hirigoyen, a psychiatrist expert in this sort of thing. Today we know that people like Regnald are psychopaths, that they are encountered frequently, and expressions such as «stalking» or «sociopath» are enough to summarize this chapter.)
Regnald organized his hatred so methodically, so patiently, that Gunniverre did not noticed anything at first. As a fine psychologist, Regnald did things in such a way that Gunniverre feel obliged to impose herself what would hurt her. He had enough time, now, since the Duke forbade him to maintain an army, only a few guards. He took the habit of talking with Gunniverre. Always sweetly. Oh he was kind, brave Regnald. He was devoted to the happiness of his wife, now that he no longer had the war to care. He went to visit the poems room. Gunniverre, still ready to hope again, to see the good finally awaken, still believed him...
It is that this poor Regnald had so many problems... For instance, this priest, he heard that he was a spy of the Duke. As she often went to see him, could not she look into his drawers...? And the Poetry room, what a pity, it was just in the right place to look at the yard... Only a kind of dark closet remained for Gunniverre... And so on. Gunniverre began to accept these tremendous losses and cases of conscience, as she had, powerfully implemented in her, a solid feature of character: obedience, discipline. They are certainly two nice qualities, when used with a good purpose; but with Regnald they could bring to self-destruction.
Gunniverre could do nothing but to realize, so the stress grew really unbearable. At last she reacted. Shyly first, passively, but all the same. She organized an inner second life, visualising flower and nature scenes when the Baron was here. And he was often here, just following her, as he was appallingly lazy about anything else than war and hunting. But Gunniverre, as soon as she started this spiritual work, had an encouragement.
As a matter of facts, from time to time, representatives of the Duke, or the Duke himself, went to Capderoc. The country folks cruelly suffered from the war; they had to be allowed to restart their cultures, rebuild their houses, and for this the lords had to take measures such as tax exemptions, or hunting only in the forest, not to destroy half of the crops with stampeding. How Regnald hated the Duke! Mmmmouuuuuu! But how he was skilful to present him a friendly face! The Duke went so far as showing interested with Gunniverre's fate. She, as it was said, was able to rhyme and sing. Regnald could not hide his spouse, he had to present her anyway. The Duke said that the poem place was too dark. «But, dear Baron, your wife sings marvellously! Why don't you give her this clear room besides yours, in place of this recess?» Gunniverre could not believe her ears! The Duke allowed her to recover her beautiful poetry chamber! He even begged pardon for the death of her father! Gunniverre could all the same not give her friendship to the Duke, but she had to admit that she was now in debt toward him.
Gunniverre, strong of this first victory, began to speak freely to her son. The later heeded her. Could he gain a moral conduct from this? Would he be better than his father, could he triumph over his perverse influence? A grain was sow, could it germinate?
Regnald, on his side, became wicked. In an underhand way, because of the Duke. But really wicked. He never again spoke to Gunniverre. He bawled when she was singing. He forbade her to only go out on the tournament grounds, and thousand other humiliations. He also became very harsh with his servants, that he was however able until now to handle carefully (from interest). Happily, in bed he had lost all his power. As in truth Regnald was now paying the toll of his insane life conduct. The radiant smile of his youth was irretrievably gone. His metabolism was in the same time hungry with hydrocarbons and noble elements, absent of his diet, and overburdened with wastes and toxins: chronic under-nutrition, that he compensated with an inefficient and disastrous overfeeding: up to four kilos of meat a day! Supporting Regnald had a high cost for animal folks. His liver, this so humble, silent and devoted servant, had doubled of volume. His heart was poisoned with bad feelings and alcohol. The invincible Regnald, who formerly brought down a bull with his only hands, whom the icy cold north wind could not deter, that the hardest blows could not stop, had ruined himself from inside. His insane pride was forbidding him to speak of this to anybody, but, sometimes, alone in a recess or a passageway, we could see him stopping dead, his hand grabbing his chest, uttering horrible curses with hideous grimaces. Without any hope to inspire Compassion to anybody...
The Duke was, him, a patron of the arts and letters. Not from personal love, but from realism: he knew that a nation draws its strength from its spirit, its artists and craftsmen, and its faith. He regularly sent minstrels and other storytellers in Capderoc. He gifted the chapel with an altarpiece. Craftsmen settled outside the walls of Capderoc, outside of the tournament grounds.
A few years went by, between the timid revival and Regnald's hate, when arrived, under recommendation of the Duke, the troubadour Arnaud. Gunniverre immediately saw, as an obvious fact, that he was a real man, sensitive and refined, sincere and honest. His beautiful and ample tenor voice served well his wonderfully living and poetic texts. He sang of love, waiting for the beloved, he spoke of life, birds, calm afternoon at the wheel. He precisely represented the ideal of Gunniverre! But no way for her to be in love with him. Unthinkable: she was united before God with Regnald. (Actually before the devil, as we saw, but this «detail» went out of her memory). But Gunniverre dreamed of Arnaud; she invited him to come back.
Arnaud would love Gunniverre too; but for him it was even more impossible, especially in the sordid and malicious promiscuity of the castle. He could even not think at that. But a link still established between Arnaud and Gunniverre; an abstract but powerful connection. They never said anything; but each time they were still happier to meet, talk and sing together. They had no right to say it. But this is what some troubadours sang later, as a soft link directly from soul to soul, that we now call platonic love. It is really not flat, I warrant you, and it could fill the soul and heart of many gentle ladies affected with dullard husbands whose ideas hardly raised above the belt. Nowadays platonic love is making a coming back, including as an healthy reaction against this terrible dominant ideology of pornography.
This is where the tragedy with Arnaud happened. It was his fourth visit to the castle, and Gunniverre invited him alone in the poems room, where she also took her wheel. It never occurred to her that she was doing wrong: this room was clearly separate from the bedroom, with a different access. She had often invited, also alone, envoys of the Duke, or even single travellers. When Arnaud went down in the evening, he did not saw the heavy silhouette of Regnald, hidden in a corner, the eyes gleaming. The Baron was not at all jealous, but he held his revenge on Gunniverre.
Gunniverre did not suspected anything about the disappearance of Arnaud. He was a free and unpredictable being, and he used to depart suddenly, without telling anybody, and to reappear unexpectedly. She had not planned any other encounter with him. The guard at the gate had the order to let him go in and out at will. However she had some dire presentiment when she saw the Baron smile again.
He started his attack, directly in the Duke's castle, accusing Gunniverre of adultery with Arnaud. He was a witness, and ⚠ Arnaud confessed everything under the question, in the presence of the advisers of Capderoc.
It was a terrible moment for Gunniverre. The fate which awaited her was horrific: ⚠ atrociously mutilated, she would spend the remainder of her life in complete confinement in a narrow cell.
However she was not crying about her fate, but on the one of Arnaud, as much terrible. That it was so easy to perpetrate such enormous acts of treachery was still more unbearable to her that any physical torture.
As it was very difficult for Gunniverre to defend herself: for the heavy mind of this epoch (and still today, we must confess) any relation between men and women could only lead to bed, and could not have any other motive than sexual desire. And nowadays, aren't we cultivating terrible confusions when we call «friend» a person with whom we have sexual contacts, and often only sexual contacts? There would be plenty of so-called witnesses to swear to have seen Arnaud entering in the bedroom, and she knew that the Duke was firm on the laws of marriage. And even if she could clear herself, for Arnaud it was too late: ⚠ certainly torture had left him maimed. It was far too much for this sensitive and delicate being: in such an atrocious suffering, he could have confessed anything.
The problem is that the ancient Middle Age was the place of strange beliefs which were far from taking their roots it the gentle speech of the Child of Nazareth. So they were persuaded that the innocent was able to withstand torture, and not the culprit. As the torturer really had a heavy hand, most people attributed themselves the most unfair accusations. (Do not condemn too quickly these superstitions: if we think in depth, it is no more idiot, no more cruel, and much less coward, than today to think that gentle people victim of injustice are all able to fund long ad costly prosecutions to exonerate and rehabilitate themselves in every situation. What would you choose yourself, between ten minutes or red iron or ten years of uncertainty, fear and soul erosion?) Still worse, to withdraw one's confession was considered as a definitive proof of guilt. Arnaud, whatever he did, was lost.
This was the cause of a great confusion at Capderoc. Gunniverre was locked in her room, feeling appallingly powerless. Regnald described her with the least details all what he intended to do to her. But his counsellors, who at last were getting used to him, and knowing that the Duke would back them, retorted him proudly that he had to do a correct prosecution first.
They went to query the Duke, and Regnald hurried to do so: in this way he could bring him on his side. It was not difficult: despite some intelligence, the Duke lacked finesse.
The Duke, once at Capderoc, began to harshly scold Gunniverre. But he went out of her room in a more dubious mood: Gunniverre never spoke of herself, but of Justice and Truth. She could even renounce to meet Arnaud ever again, provided that he would be free. This was not the behaviour of a culprit. So the Duke commanded a further inquiry. The witnesses contradicted each other. Two counsellors of Capderoc tried to clear Arnaud. The Duke went to visit him in his cell. He sworn he was innocent, and he spoke of poems and songs. It was a really shocking scene, ⚠ as the poor man, broken, was suffering and crying. The Duke was hesitating. Regnald was trying to persuade him, but his psychological skill was lost to alcohol. His constant repeats and heavy harassment rather ended to upset the Duke.
At the end he would rather grant the benefit of the doubt to Gunniverre, and the case would have ended here, if the brave but stupid abbot of Capderoc had not the strange idea of doing what they called «the judgment of God». Whatsit? One of the more inexpiable horrors of that time: a fight to death between the two men. Between Regnald and Arnaud. They were all persuaded that God would grant the victory to the innocent. To imagine that God was a kind of character, a great whimsical Baron, who would come to play Zorro to settle all the mess of petty quarrels among his subjects! What a blasphemy! What a paganism! But think, they could only see God much too high for them, of imagine Him as petty.
The true Source of Life, the true Divine Artist, does not act like this. He is respectful of our Free Will, of our dignity, of our decision, even absurd. He considers us as adults, and even in a way as His equals. His Work is much larger and more subtle. What happened during the fight, however extraordinary it may look to some readers, was only the pure logical consequence of what each of the two participants did, alone in front of himself. However the true Justice was fulfilled in an unapparent, but much more elegant way.
The day before the day where the fight should take place, Gunniverre was in an indescribable state of inner conflict. The terrible pain, of course, that every sensitive person feels facing the loss of an authentic being. But also an horrible dilemma. On one side, still under the influence of Regnald, she was feeling terribly guilty, thinking that what happened to him was her fault (She never felt any pity for herself, despite Regnald's terrible threats). On the other hand, this time she was really obliged to admit that Regnald had ignominiously betrayed her. It was no more possible for her to lie to herself, to hide this fact. But she was not yet able to draw the simple and obvious conclusions. From there a huge stress, a state that fortunately we rarely experience in our life, ⚠ still darker than terror or regret: the whole universe seems mad, black and furious like a storm sky, any moral or logical reference disappearing, all seeming meaningless, life itself looking like an immense deceit... Whatever she though, tenebrous abyss were opening under her feet, and any hope of truth seemed lost. This atrocious feeling, which not even has a name, is what we feel when we refuse to admit one of the elements of the situation, and that this refusal leads us to tragedy... This happens for instance to the sincere adept of a sect who finds he was deceived; this can be so painful to admit that many have not the force to face it, and they keep stuck in a form of self-delusion. It is also what felt the peoples of the native civilisations of America or Africa, when they saw arriving these invaders with white skin, of a so ununderstandable savagery...
The day of the «judgement of God», all the inhabitants of the castle and all the serfs went on the tournament ground. Gunniverre was secluded for so long that she discovered that the season was spring. A clear sun, already warm, was spreading his tender light, despite the petty mind of all these people, toward birds with plenty of love song, toward the grass which covered the place now that the soldiers were no longer training here.
There were many people, as the case was important: Arnaud had been recommended by the Duke. The later was in due place on the tribune, dignified and impenetrable as every judge. His counsellors and captains were surrounding him, but, except the mad priest of Capderoc, no ecclesiastics: even the cruel Roman hierarchy had all the same disapproved this kind of things since long ago. In front of the tribune, beyond the space reserved for the fight, the servants and the serfs were waiting, speaking and laughing noisily. They had brought various merchandises and foods, as after the execution the market would take place. Above the tribune, on one of the posts which were used to set a sheet, a pair of titmouses were merrily celebrating the universal Beauty and Love, despite and against the sinister comedy which was preparing. Ô little bird, from thee Loveliness and Simplicity direct messenger of the Divine Artist, thou however indicatedst the clearest and neatest solution to all their problems! But they never heed thee... Ô fool who only heeds himself!
Gunniverre was also on the tribune, separately. Only her son accompanied her. Paradoxically, after the torments of the past day, she was feeling light and happy. Was it a feeling of spring, the so much awaited vision of the blossoming trees, the titmouses? Or simply that she too believed that God would really lend His arm to Arnaud to allow him to defeat the terrible Baron Regnald? How could she think otherwise, as all the others she was nourished since tender childhood with such idiocies? Just at this moment the priest of Capderoc, who was now walking with difficulty, happened to pass besides her, and he stealthily whispered in her ear his reassuring tune: «God is with you, my daughter».
Arnaud was brought. ⚠ The poor man was really a pity: made meagre by his sufferings, he already slim, he could not stand on his burned feet. The icy cold winds in the sinister Capderoc jails had started a pleurisy. Quivering, feverish, maimed, anyway his days were running short...
The reactions of the rabble were absolutely not unanimous. Even if most, as narrow-minded as Regnald, booed Arnaud, there was however some «Arnaud God is with you» to be heard. This second reaction looks more sympathetic, but it must to be known that, nobody knowing any real piece of truth about Arnaud being «culprit» or innocent, most of them supported him or not, only as a function of their opinion about conjugal fidelity!
Regnald was preparing himself to the fight, methodically, calmly, as if he had to challenge a powerful adversary. They were given their weapons, terrific: two pointed picks, of several pounds. Despite his ill interior, Regnald was still redoubtable: His heavy mass was twirling and jumping with a disconcerting agility; he could have killed neat Arnaud at ten paces, with only one throw of his tool, with a diabolic precision. Never was seen such an unequal fight.
The start signal was given.
And nothing happened as nobody though.
Arnaud had made his calculations. If he refused the fight, torture awaited him. If he accepted, very obviously he had no chance to win: he would die, and Gunniverre would be recognized culprit and atrociously tortured. And him, how could he go in Paradise, with his hands full of blood? There was only one solution.
Arnaud was not allowed to abandon his weapon, under sentence again to be recognized culprit. Thus he did not pose it, but kept it one point on the ground while kneeing, in the attitude of prayer. Booing suddenly ceased.
Regnald was smiling again, but a ferocious smile, a sadistic pleasure. He was at last about to take revenge of the Kindness, the Purity, the Gentleness of his wife. He was about to crush Arnaud and see Gunniverre tortured. In his opinion, Arnaud's behaviour was an admission that he was a culprit: he looked at the Duke, saying: «see...» But the Duke had an icy look, completely inhuman. «Continue...» He wanted the truth, the Duke, not arguments. (Pity he used such a bad method!) Regnald could call anybody to bear witness for him, he had to face alone his responsibilities.
The serfs started again to boo at Arnaud: «Wimp... Coward!» But soon they had to keep silent. What was, for these heavy minds, just another episode of a cruel game, was in fact concealing the Marvel. «What Christ would have done in my place?» was trying to figure Arnaud. He put aside any other concern, which, anyway, in front of the inescapable death, had lost any relevance. Arnaud had nothing to lose. Only one exit remained: the Heavens. Ultimate freedom on the human being, facing the death! That no mundane scheme could never withdraw! But he had first to pardon. He put in the balance all his remaining inner strength. No, God does not play Zorro; no, God would never descent to crush the flesh of His creatures. The true God, the divine Artist, the ultimate Comforter, if he helped Arnaud, it was about to pardon. And to pardon, this basically means to find Serenity in our soul, despite the negative emotions that the vision of the evil arises. This does absolutely not mean that we abandon any dignity, that we forget any resistance. This has nothing to do with any form of masochism, submission or other romanticism.
The Pater began to get out of Arnaud's mouth. Never «Thy will be done» was uttered with so much sincerity; never «as we forgive them that trespass against us» enforced so much respect, despite the convulsive tremolo which made it nearby ununderstandable. Everybody froze to attention. Even the Duke leaned. Arnaud, gasping, tight with the effort, still had some force to say «I forgive you, Baron». O unvulnerable soul, which keeps all its power, all its intensity, even if the most horrible pains, when just a bad wind can be enough to ruin the body!
What did Regnald all this time along? He had just turned around Arnaud, raising his weapon aiming at him, then lowering it slowly, as if an invisible hand was holding his arm; so he did five or six times, and then began to swear, turning crimson. Maybe he even not heard Arnaud, blind with rage.
The sinister game did not stop: for all these prisoners of their terrible prejudices, it was unconceivable to stop the fight without at least one dead. The Baron was still trying, powerless, to hit Arnaud; the later, astonished of still being alive, spoke to Gunniverre: «See you later in God's realm, gentle and chaste Gunniverre» then, in Occitan, to the tit birds: «A Diu, aquel pichon aucel». Ready to enter in paradise, he started smiling. To forgive was a terrible effort, but it was as if a wall suddenly broke away: The terror and painful tense which overwhelm him from the very start of his sequestration suddenly disappeared, just to let the place for a gentle serenity. Even his terrible physical pain got out of his consciousness. The rage of the Baron got still worse: these words, pronounced so quietly, in such a moment, were irreversibly clearing Arnaud. Perhaps Regnald believed it was really God who retained his arm, and he began to pour out horrible blasphemies: in a while all the crowd howled against him, and the Duke, furious, commanded him to stop. In vain. Regnald was in an indescribable rage, foaming, turning around Arnaud, when, without he touched him, the latter gently slipped to the ground, exhausted by his injuries, as a little bird would have do, poetical even in his way of dying.
What a rumpus! What a confusion! The least we can say is that the situation was no clearer than before. Regnald was kicking the lifeless body of Arnaud; soldiers had to be ten to drag him away. Normally the idiotic ritual showed Arnaud as the culprit, but in this way, there was a kind of a doubt... Regnald rushed toward Gunniverre: «See, she is guilty, she must be tortured!» At this moment, and only at this moment, Gunniverre was afraid for herself. There were good reasons for this: a sinister hardware was waiting behind the stand, with three men wearing black hoods... But the Duke asked to debate with religious people. Regnald, crazy from rage, was now whirling his pick, threatening everybody. «He is mad, call the bowmen». But the bowmen not had to intervene. Regnald was now staggering, as drunk. He felt his nose in the mud. Half an hour after it was the end. To die at thirty-four just from a heart attack, in the twelfth century, how hopeless...
The two bodies were installed together. What a contrast! Arnaud had a slight smile, beautiful like a child. Regnald's face had frozen in a sardonic laughter.
In front of this inconclusive result, in conditions which were flouting all their cruel dogma and let them without any way out, the Duke, his counselors and the ecclesiastics brought in haste had anyway no other choice than to unearth from their hearts some true human feeling and to take a decision from themselves. Hard task, as they were really disagreeing with each others! But the people, in one of its fits of fair sensitivity, was requesting a verdict of not guilty for Gunniverre, making a nice fuss. Even the soldiers were speaking with them, having questioning glances toward their masters... Nothing beats the unanimous people: The powers never think so fast and so well than when they feel their power holding only at a simple convention. They managed to find an official agreement and to say that their grimaces were from grief. Gunniverre was at last cleared. Was it really necessary to demolish Arnaud to get to such an obvious conclusion?
Anyway his pardon to the Baron made a strong impression. He was nearby considered as a martyr. Maybe these events brought some contribution to curb these cruel customs, but what a high price to pay for each victory over barbarism!
«It is always the bests who leave in first» tells the proverb about Arnaud's death. What looks like a pessimistic saying is only justice, as, while doing so, the good leave our dull life for a better one, which they deserved. They go to the high school, in a way. Arnaud not immediately went in Paradise, as we saw that things are not exactly as in the catechism. But he had won a serious advance. He started another life, in India, in these times a classical step on the awakening to the true life. We guess that he went if the good ashrams, to study the mysteries and obtain what the Hindus call Ananda, the unconditional inner joy. He also learned Indian music, which at that time was far ahead of European music. After that, he was free to leave the Earth, or to stay to love his brothers and share all what he learned. We do not know what he did, as we lose his step here. Maybe we would prefer that he lives and share Gunniverre's love. But this was not possible: Nellio awaited on Aeoliah the perfumed. So everything was at best.
And the Baron, what happened of him? Were we rid off this abject being? For a time, yes. But what an illusion to believe that we eliminate a criminal when we kill him! The pervert soul of the Baron still lurked some years at Capderoc, and it was still able to interfere into Gunniverre's inner mind and into that of other persons. Then it disappeared. Certainly not toward a pleasant place. In hell? In the world of the spirit, each soul can project a world to its measure: paradise, mediocrity or hell. Regnald's one was certainly worth the time he spent in.
The old priest of Capderoc had probably finished his mission, as he died two months later, still smiling with humility. He was replaced by one of these dogmatic scholars, completely devoid of this spirit's flame he was expected to propagate. Gunniverre had with him only relations of politeness, even if he made mandatory to go to confession every day. Then she was telling him that she broke a jug or something like that. Then he took a harsh look (he was really serious) and made her repeat innumerable series of Ave Maria. She loved this, as it is a nice prayer, really, and at least nobody was bothering her as long as she was doing so.
Gunniverre, at last rehabilitated, found herself master of Capderoc. Two days only: her son claimed the succession. At twelve, he was still too young, but the Duke preferred to see him rule, well mentored, rather than a poetess. Gunniverre was first appalled, but then she realized that it was far better that way. She would have had to pay the soldiers, maintain the moat, manage taxes and forced work and complains from the ones or the others, and jails, and sharpen the torturer's tools... in brief to enter into a web of not luminous matters, where she would fatally need to dirty her hands. She had best things to live.
Gunniverre had only little communication with her son. He was a manager, an organizer. Poetry had little or no impact on him, but he was not hostile, and, with the same mind than the Duke, he let Gunniverre completely free. It was as she still was the baroness, but without the inconveniences. Out the boar heads. The new Baron just raised his shoulders. But he strictly forbade her to remove the arms racks from the honour hall.
Since so much time she was confined into Capderoc, she was at last free to get out at will. She found back the tender grass and green boughs with the joy of a child. She went back to gather fruits, admire the birds and even to bath naked into the river (In the 12th century, despite the ambient puritanism, it was easier than today). She was like a convalescent who naively finds back light and free air. In two days of reign, she had had however enough time to grant a large amnesty of all the false culprits confined into the Capderoc caves, and this owed her the unshakeable love of the whole people. So that she was always merrily welcomed wherever she went, into the villages or in countryside recesses.
She was often seen into the Duke castle, and into other places. She took part in the intellectual and artistic elite, still small at this epoch. She composed poems, of which unhappily none survived until today. She never remarried, as it must be said she never found any man matching the value of Arnaud.
Was her happy? In a way yes, but was her out of trouble? As we can expect, Arnaud's death caused her a terrible shock. But in the same time, she had the unexplainable certainty that he was in Paradise. True love is never egoistic, and to be reassured on Arnaud's fate was enough to comfort Gunniverre. At Regnald's burial, the image of the little devil appeared again to her. He was looking funny as to say: «Look, I warned you.» Who was really this little devil? Some messenger of a lesser hierarchy, who took this catechism look to warn her? Or just a mental image, pure creation of her unconscious, very aware, precisely, of what was going to happen?
This ending had, in some way, lowered her existential doubts, but it also dispensed her to really solve them. So the job was only half done. Logically, Gunniverre should have rejected out of her mind all what came from Regnald, all what he had touched or modified. Certainly she accepted (at last) the fact that he was treacherous, and that he unfairly accused her, but she did only half of the necessary cleansing of her mind and heart, of all what Regnald had dumped in of false opinions and negative emotions. Especially she tortured herself until the last day with a guilt feeling about Arnaud, and other things. Gunniverre just took the opposite way of the more characteristic defilements of Regnald (as with the boar heads) but she never went to the bottom of things, getting rid of the very roots (fear, abdication...) of this strange link which so long ago subordinated her to this hopeless being. As she was not only physically locked in: Her mind and heart were also prisoners, forbidden to think and to feel by themselves. They were just happy to partially recover this capacity. Gunniverre thus stayed in the spirit of the time. But we should not blame her: to attempt her own psychological analysis in full European Middle Age, it was a really special thing! And she anyway realized a wonder, along the days of spinning or gathering fruits: To develop a great Gentleness, an elegance of gestures and speech, a dance of the gestures of life... From her influence in the Duke's court, she was able to transmit this art to others, contributing to the progressive refinements of the customs... And to the awakening of the few happy souls who were lucky enough to encounter her.
Gunniverre died relatively young, about forty, of what was still recently called the wasting disease. Without regrets, as at the end, her Sensitivity to the suffering of beings re-awakened, and this was sometime painful and difficult to manage... On her deathbed, she was still young and nice. She looked just asleep, serious as a child. Earth patiently continued its path to eternity among the unimaginable lights of moving stars. The Cosmic Guard exchanged some thoughts with his companions, of a so gentle vibration which absolutely not disturbed the bluish poetry in the heart of their ship.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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