Confined to her chamber, Isambour desperately mourned over the leaving of her beloved. Throughout the days and nights she lamented, cursing fate for having granted her a wonderful love in order to withdraw it from her soon after.
The cheerful and merry young girl, happy to be alive, made room for a sad and desperate young woman, who expected nothing else from life but death!
She spent her time looking out of the window of her room, watching people entering and leaving the castle. She didn’t know exactly what she expected, nor whether she really waited. She waited, that was all!
Although she was convinced of the death of Angeran, something deep inside, in the depths of her heart, told her, he was possibly still alive in spite of all!
But as the days went by, the hope of meeting again her beloved dwindled. Refusing to eat, she gradually fell ill, until the day when, being too weak, she refused to get up and leave her bed. Time went by inexorably and Isambour got in a bad shape! Her parents lamented helplessly at her bedside day and night.
All the greatest physicians of the kingdom came in succession to see the young girl. But in vain! The personal physician of the King himself went on a journey trying to remedy the malignant disease, which afflicted Isambour. The verdict was passed. There was no remedy for “lovesickness”, because that was the matter.
Departing, he helplessly confided the terrible news to Guérin and Guenièvre. The disease Isambour suffered was incurable and thus, finally hopelessly fatal. The poor parents broke down and collapsed in tears.
However, one fine day an ageless old woman appeared at the castle and demanded to see Isambour. Her raiment in tatters and her limping way of walking gave her an off-putting appearance and did not inspire much confidence.
The guards refused admission at first. But in view of her insistence, after a long while they finally decided to inform the landlord. Though he hesitated, Guérin decided after all to let her step inside and be lead to the bedside of his moribund daughter. All along the corridors that lead to Isambour’s chamber, everybody backed way from her.
When she passed by, all of them made the sign of the cross, as to avert bad luck. In the eyes of some, she was the devil in person or at least one of his emissaries.
Indifferent towards their disapproval, the old woman moved along her way, imperturbable, despite of walking with great arduousness.
When she finally arrived at Isambour’s room, first of all she paused for a long moment watching her closely, not moving and saying a word. Silently she observed the
sleeping girl, pale on her deathbed. Only a light breath escaped from her stiff lips, seeming to retain her to life.
The old woman slowly removed a vial from her tattered skirt and let a few drops of a thick and viscous liquid, like molten gold, fall on the bluish lips of Isambour, murmuring some inaudible words. Then, again out of her skirt she took a pouch, containing magical herbs and let them slip between the stiff hands of the young girl. Her hands raising up to the sky, she spoke some spells in an incomprehensible tongue.
And then an intense light invaded the room. A fireball took shape and started to swirl around the room at wild speed, then set above the dieing body of Isambour. Another lightning flashed up in the room, coming to strike the girl.
Her whole body started to tremble, slightly at first, then ever faster, like being submitted to some kind of trance. As if by magic, she was elevated a few inches and began to hover above the bed.
A blinding light flashed anew, yet this time very bright, a bit like an explosion and then, silence! The body of Isambour descended slowly to the bed and everything calmed down again.
All seemed to be normal again, at least apparently, because to everyone’s amazement Isambour had lost her ashen complexion! The colouring had returned. Her cheeks were fresh and rosy again. It was a miracle! Then the crone explained to Guérin and Guenièvre, that the girl was out of danger, yet, being deeply shocked, her spirit would need a little more time to recover. But she was saved and that was the main thing! As if she woke up from a long and deep sleep, Isambour opened her eyes and smiled. When she turned her head towards her parents, for the first time since weeks, a big smile lit up her shining face.
Guérin ordered to hand the old lady a big moneybag, filled with gold, which she assiduously refused before she disappeared out of the castle, just as mysterious as she had appeared.
Finally healed, Isambour had miraculously regained all of her strength and energy. A pretty fresh and rosy complexion beautified her cheeks. A big smile adorned again her angelic face. Her calm and placid attitude was a mystery to everyone of the castle.
How could she be so relaxed and confident, while she seemed to have forever lost her one and only love?
They all did not know, that unconditional love, which united these two beings, is situated beyond life and death. A tie, imperceptible for the common mortals, united them from now on and forever. Now they were like a single soul in two bodies. Love in its purest state. Although she had no news of Angeran, Isambour knew he was still alive. Everyday, at every moment of life, that God bestowed her, she kept the image of her beloved in her mind and sent him her strength, energy and courage, just as if she mentally breathed the breath of life into him, which was able to save him.
Just as if she brought him back to life with the simple power of her love. Anyhow, this was what she thought, what she believed deep within her heart. Everyday, being lulled by his love and full of hope for the future, she felt being revived.
But the days were long, being confined within the castle walls. With her love for freedom, Isambour could no longer endure to stay in this closed space. She wanted to enjoy again the beauty of the landscape and run through the open spaces. She needed contact with nature, needed to run through the meadows in bloom, to breathe the smell of the soil and to turn her face to the beneficial rays of the sun, for making her feel truly alive.
Thus, slipping away in a brief moment of inattention of her guards, who were ordered by her father (the fear, that his daughter could be kidnapped by the abominable Jean
was still present in his mind), Isambour sneaked out of the castle, closely followed by her two dogs Romulus and Remus. Finally in the open air, the girl started to run madly across country. After a long and frantic running, being short of breath, she stopped by a brookside to take breathe and to quench her thirst.
Isambour walked on air. She took deep breaths of the divine scents of nature. Without noticing it, she now was dangerously far away from the castle. Not realizing the danger she was in and being occupied with playing with her dogs, the girl didn’t hear the approaching horsemen, who were moving in her direction.
Heavens! Jean and two of his vassals! Startled, Isambour was trying to take flight! But she quickly found herself being surrounded by the cavaliers, who encircled her by narrowing each circle.
The two dogs, wanting to protect her mistress, attacked and tried to unsaddle the horsemen, but they were savagely slain.
Isambour desperately hastened to her dogs, who were lying in a scarlet pool of blood.
With wrath in her heart, she lunged at Jean’s horse and screamed at the top of her voice to startle the animal and make Jean fall down.
The scared animal reared up. The girl, whose powers were unleashed by her rage, clutched at Jean’s leg and drew him down to the ground.
Being surprised by the unexpectedness and violence of the attack, Jean lost his balance and with a rude curse, he fell heavily to the ground.
Furiously, Jean quickly remounted his horse, brutally grabbed Isambour around her waist and heaved her across the saddle like a sack of potatoes. Then he prodded his horse into a gallop across the fields towards his castle.
Being kept imprisoned in the highest tower of Jean the Bloody’s castle, Isambour paced around like a lioness in a cage. She spent the days in front of the room’s only window with her eyes fixed on the horizon, hoping for an early deliverance.
The grief of having lost her two faithful companions made room for wrath. “I swear before God and man, I will avenge you, my dears!”
In the meantime, Jean hastily organized the wedding ceremony. He issued his orders, arranged duties everybody was obliged to act quickly. He knew that each minute was counting. The sooner the marriage was celebrated, the sooner things would come to rest! Once married, nobody could take Isambour away from him. She would be his, to him alone!
Thus, there was an incredible stir ruling the castle. Everybody was running from left to right, in one sense and the other. One could say, a beehive was buzzing with activity.
The poor priest of the parish was downright kidnapped, brought to the castle and threatened with severe reprisals, should he oppose.
In the afternoon, Jean demanded some tea being offered to Isambour, allegedly for refreshment. Yet, in truth, it contained a soporific substance to break the girl’s will.
Since the day before, she hadn’t drunk nor eaten anything. Thus, she rushed up to the warm potion and emptied it in one gulp.
Eventually, the end of the afternoon arrived. Everything was prepared. After she got her hair dressed and being carefully clothed by the servants, Isambour was led in front of the altar of the chapel.
The girl let herself obediently being conducted without any resistance. With her misty eyes, her hesitating gait, she appeared to be totally absent.
The ceremony was held in a timely manner. Finally, the priest turned to Isambour. “Isambour, do you accept to take Jean for your husband?”
The girl was staring at the priest without answering. She seemed not to understand the priest’s words. At the sight of Jean's visible anger, the priest made a sign with his head to Isambour, commanding her to accept.
The girl opened her mouth to respond. It seemed that her fate was irrevocably sealed.
Suddenly, a loud noise resounded from the courtyard, being followed by fierce shouting and ear-shattering noise of clinking blades! To all appearances, they were crossing swords in the bailey.
Before Jean had time to react, a band of men armed to the teeth invaded the chapel. At its head, a man in battle clothing. “The hour has come to pay for your misdoings, Jean the Bloody.” Disguised behind his armour, the warrior let show nothing but his eyes.
“Who are you, knight, to do this kind of invasion to my home and teach me moral lessons?”
Without saying a word, the warrior took off his helmet and it was the handsome face of Angeran that Jean beheld. A face distorted by hatred and the desire for revenge.
A cold shiver went down Jean’s spine, one of death he felt hanging about the place. But with an attitude of pride, he raised his head and regarded his adversary with scorn.
“Now then has come the moment both of us have waited for impatiently.”
“Your number is up, Jean. You will pay!” Saying this, Angeran lunged at Jean and a terrible fight was following.
In the meantime, Isambour, who had been taken back to her chamber by order of Jean, slowly gained back her spirits. Her head was spinning round, the haze of the drug she had ingested was still present, but she was coming round.
Her first thought was to leave the room and take flight! Unfortunately, the door was locked and again she found herself imprisoned.
Still feeling feeble, she let herself drop on the edge of her bed and tried to collect her thoughts to find a solution. Suddenly, something caught her attention. A pungent and choking smell had started to scratch her throat.
She didn’t take long to realize, that a thick white cloud of smoke had begun to infiltrate the room, coming through the bottom crack of the door.
By a swift glance through the window, she quickly realized that the whole castle was on fire.
Getting desperate and fighting for her survival, Isambour rushed again to the door and banged on it, crying for help. But the castle had turned into a battlefield and it seemed that nobody did hear the girl. Her desperate cries got lost among the clashing of swords, the shouts of the warriors and the scary crackle of fire, which now covered three quarters of the castle.
The situation was grave and currently her life was in acute danger!
Isambour tried very hard not to panic. Her brain, still in a daze from the effects of the drug they had made her drink, was struggling to function correctly. Despite of intense efforts to concentrate, she didn’t succeed in finding an escape out of the terrible situation she was in. Withal, was there a solution actually? She didn’t really believe it. In her mind, images of the past were reeling. Her entire life started to uncoil. She was recalling everything. Bit by bit, the familiar places, the faces of people who were dear to her, drifted past, one by one, through her memory. For Isambour there was no doubt, it was indeed the end. A feeling of resignation settled in her.
Suddenly, without really knowing why, something animated her to raise hope again.
In an urge to survive, she threw herself against the door again and assembled all of her forces to cry for help!
Angeran abruptly stopped fighting. Through the clashing, he seemed to hear a cry for help!
Solely listening to his heart, he rushed to the stairs of the burning tower. Of little important was his life to him, when the life of his beloved was in danger. With great difficulty he moved forward through the thick smoke, allowing himself to be guided by the distress calls as they became clearer and stopped in front of the door of the chamber that Isambour was locked in. He didn’t take long in breaking through the door, which was almost completely burned through.
There was Isambour, gasping and fainting, falling into his arms. There was no time to waste, so again he threw himself through the flames to get out. In the arms of her beloved, Isambour recovered her spirits. The soft words, murmured to her ear by the young man, managed to ease her mind.
Angeran realised very quickly, that he could not avoid fighting. This time, he also knew the issue would be fatal for one of them.
Softly, he put Isambour down, who still was very weak, and unsheathed his sword to defy Jean. A long fight was following. One could easily read the hatred in their faces, uniting the two men against each other. Both knew that one of them would die! It couldn’t be any other way.
Suddenly, Angeran found himself on the floor. His sword had escaped from his
hands and now he was defencelessly delivered to the sword, which Jean,
being very furious and threatening, was brandishing above his head.
Angeran felt the near end. With a last look at Isambour he yielded up to his fate.
Suddenly, with a sinister cracking noise, a heavy wooden beam broke loose from the ceiling and came crashing down on Jean. He collapsed inert and lifeless on the floor, crushed by the weight of the load.
It was over. With a quick movement Angeran got up again. He clasped Isambour in his arms and without looking back, went out in the court, mounted his horse and at a wild gallop, he took his beauty far away from this accursed castle.
The next day, Angeran and Isambour announced to everybody their desire to marry without further delay. Actually, this announcement was not a surprise to anyone. With the death of Jean finally having removed the only obstacle to their union, the two young people didn’t want to wait any longer. The news delighted Isambour’s father, who, without hesitation, gave orders for the ceremony to take place as soon as possible. That was to say, the very next day!
And there came the morning of the wedding. Everybody was hurrying towards the castle. But the agitation that ruled within the walls was but of joy and happiness. Laughter resounded from everywhere. Everybody was executing their assigned tasks with pleasure and love of life. They all were in a festive mood!
Isambour could hardly believe her luck. However, she couldn’t help being afraid. So many times she had to face up to fate and so many times she had been separated from her tender wonderful love. That’s why some minutes before the ceremony she was slightly trembling, seeing her wonderful dream finally come to an end. The longed-for moment arrived. Standing united before the altar of the small chapel of the castle, the two young people literally were shifting impatiently from one foot to the other, like they were afraid of being separated by destiny again.
Repeatedly, Angeran motioned to the priest to hurry up. However, he wanted to have the joy of both savouring this blissful moment to last but also have the ceremony come to an end so that he may
finally, and forever, be joined to his love. And then the ceremony came to a close.
The celebrations were allowed to begin. Within the festively bedecked castle there was nothing but shouts of joy and felicity. A large table was set up for this occasion. The courses succeeded one another, each as sumptuous and delicious as the one before. Performances followed each other during the courses of dishes. Jugglers, Magicians; all their acts were equally stunning.
Legend tells, that at nightfall, in the tower of the old castle,
one can hear the two softly whispering their love.