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The Story of Isambour Chapter I-VI



Story written by Lehahia (French)
Translation & Illustrations by Lama (German)
 

Introduction - About the time

The following story takes place in France during the reign 
of Philippe Auguste in the early twelfth century. Philippe Auguste was one 
of the greatest kings, who occupied the throne of France
He was the originator of the French nation. For his successors, he formed a veritable kingdom; he brought remarkable abilities and a style of government that lasted for five centuries. There’s no doubt that without him, our lovely France would have had quite 
a different destiny. Other kings were glorious, great or brilliant, but none of them resembled him, because he was the real founder of the French monarchy.
He was a competent king, of rare simplicity, pleasant nature, free from cruelty, but not without rigour. Being often at war, he preferred an unstable, less devastating peace.
He was a king well served, because he served his people well.
Throughout his whole reign, the French kingdom was at its peak. Economy was booming, the urban streets were bustling, retail flourished, goods abounded and the market stands competed with colour and variety. Crops were excellent and citizens demonstrated their prosperity.

 
Introduction – About the story

During the Middle Ages, love marriages were extremely uncommon, 
if nonexistent, in high society. Mostly, unions had been planned in advance, 
sometimes even already from birth. The daughters got already married at a young age. 
It wasn’t unusual to see them getting married against their will at the age of twelve, to some knights or wealthy lords, whose land adjoined to that of the bride’s family. Frequently the destined spouses, were much older than them (often twice as old and more), and their appearance looked quite repulsive. Not only because of their age, the numerous battles and wars they had led, oftentimes left a great number of scars and gashes on many of them, crisscrossing bodies and faces.
These “arranged” marriages had no other purpose but to let riches increase and to expand their estates. In fact, what was united primarily in those grand families of that time was their land, their properties, to get richer and mightier than they already 
had been before. Thus the caste prospered.
In the countryside, the peasants had quite a different opinion and attitude towards 
these things. Even though the marriages took place at an early age as well, love 
had occasionally, yet often, its place.



Born late from a marriage of love, an exceptional fact in that time, Isambour beheld the light of the day and grew up amidst a warm-hearted and happy home, where love had never ceased to reign as an absolute master.
                                                                       
In the course of time, being pampered, adored by loving parents, who got adored as well, the young child became a gorgeous young woman of seventeen, with a lively and strong character. Her appearance was graceful and slender, her blond hair, long and silky, fell like a cascade down to her waist. A clear complexion, like milk, made her to be one of the most beautiful young girls of the country, if not the most beautiful!


Being headstrong and sure of herself, she would never let anyone having the last word in a conversation and would never allow any person to decide for her, which choice or decision to make. Her behaviour, somewhat unusual for a girl in that time, frequently made her father, Lord Guérin, laugh, who maintained an unconditional love and adoration for her, even at the limit to cheekiness. And it was very affectionate, when he gave her the nickname “my little wild animal”, as she was wild, uncontrollable and frequently even not to catch.                                                                              


Sometimes, this fatherly forbearance made his wife, the gentle Guenièvre, react, who, being quite the opposite of her daughter, has been a fine, benign, graceful and always discreet person.
                                                                                                                   

As a good family mother, she was often thinking about the future of her daughter. One day she had to get married, whatever the cost. But with a character demonstrated by said Isambour, finding a husband would prove to be a very difficult task.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Guenièvre began to give up hope and seriously distressed herself about the matrimonial future of her daugther. 
                                         
But, nothing doing! The young girl always rejected the suitors, which were presented  to her. She always found a good reason to justify her refusal. Too young, too old, too ugly, too fat, too slender? Everything was tried, all the excuses were right. The phrase “too much, or not enough” had become a permanent leitmotiv in her mouth.
                     
With every refusal of his daughter, Guérin, who unlike his wife, was in no hurry to 
see his beloved child leaving the family’s castle, contentedly nodded his head smiling, being secretly pleased with that state of affairs.

Guérin was one of the greatest Lords of the French kingdom. Not due to his material wealth, because even though he was relatively wealthy, he was far from being one of the richest. But his greatness mainly derived from the kindliness of his heart and soul. From farmers to nobles, all who lived on his land, lived happily and never wanted for nothing. Riches were distributed fairly and everybody lived to see halcyon days,  without any tension coming to disturb the serenity of the realm.
 

And time went by peacefully, the days passed one like the other. However, a shadow hovered above this quiet peace. This shadow had a name; it was Jean the Bloody, a cold and ruthless man, known for his awfulness and incredible cruelty, a drunkard, wanton, only thinking of women and wine, who led a completely dissolute life, wallowing in sin and lust.
                                                                                                    


Several times, Jean the Bloody had asked for Isambour’s hand in marriage.
Since his lands adjoined to those of Guérin, this marriage would considerably expand his realm and allow him to increase his power and might.
But as one can easily guess, his requests remained unsuccessful. Of course, Guérin did not wish to consent to such a union against nature. He loved his daughter far too much, to allow such a marriage.
Yet, nevertheless, Jean was not discouraged and reiterated his request several times, always taking a new refusal, so that one beautiful day, he would probably be fed up with seeing himself being turned away each time and never again speak about marriage.
 

Until the day he coincidentally came across Isambour in the bailey. Ever since, fascinated by the young girl’s incredible beauty, he had but one thought in mind:  getting a wife.
                                                                                                             

From this day forth, he recommenced asking for Isambour’s hand in marriage. His demands grew more and more insistent and threatening with time. He promised Guérin worst reprisals, if he and his daughter would not bend to his will.
                                    

The situation was serious; if Jean the Bloody decided to declare war on Guérin, many lives would be sacrificed and the peace of the entire realm would be at risk.
Guérin could not get used to the idea of a new war, neither could he resolve to marry his daughter to a warhorse.
Poor Lord Guérin tried hard to conceal the terrible secret that haunted him, especially because he has never had any secrets to his wife and daughter.
Therefore, what he mostly wanted, was being able to open his heart and speak freely about the terrible menace, Jean was threatening the castle with.
                                         

That evening, after having barely swallowed his frugal meal, he finally decided to speak.
                                                                                                                        

As expected, Guenièvre burst into tears. Isambour, meanwhile, remained unmoved.
Her lips were trembling slightly, but she tried not to let on about the anger, that arose in her by and by.
                                                                                                                         

After a long time thinking, she got up, went around the table and put her hand affectionately on her father’s shoulder. “Father, send a messenger to Jean, telling him, that we accept his demand.” Seeing  that her father was about to refuse, she prevented him from speaking be resuming:  “I refuse to jeopardize your life and that of the ones I love. Since this is my destiny, well then, I will marry that man, even though he arouses nothing but disgust and  hatred in me. But God is my witness, I will not have enough life to make him pay for his behaviour. I will make him atone for his guilt."
        

These were the last words the young girl did speak. After placing a kiss on her father’s forehead, then on her mother’s, she slowly left the room and withdrew to her chamber. As soon as the door had closed, she dropped on her bed and gave free rein to her grief.
              

The next day at dawn, a messenger was sent to Jean the Bloody.                                          

A heavy, depressing atmosphere ruled the castle. Usually, sounds of laughter and singing could be heard all around, for it was good living there. But today, everything was silent, the faces were sad, the corridors quiet. The announcement of the impending marriage and leaving of Isambour had plunged  this little world into utter despair and an immense sadness. But the die was cast. From now on, it was impossible to retract.
 


And the day of affiance came. All the greatest lords of the environs were invited.
The festivity promised to be most splendid. Many foods were yet spread on the large table in the reception hall. The troubadours were already echoing the sound of their instruments in the corridors of the castle. Dancers and jugglers were practicing to give their best when the moment arrived. However, on everybody’s heart weighed a deep melancholy. The spirits were not at the festivity.
                                                         



For young Isambour, it was her last day of freedom. That evening already, her destiny would for ever be connected with the abominable Jean the Bloody.
Very early in the morning she rushed out of the castle to go running through the fields.
 

Being closely followed by her two huge dogs, she ran across the meadows for a long time. After a wild run, being finished, she stood still in the fresh, tall grass, slightly wet with dew. Lying on her back with her arms crossed, she took deep breaths to fill her lungs as much as possible with the sweet smell of spring, which floated in the air. An immense sense of well-being overwhelmed her. She crumpled some leaves of wild mint between her fingers and brought the hands to her face.  Putting her ear close to the ground, she listened to the slightest sound, while the heady smell of the soil ascended her nostrils. She felt being in perfect and complete harmony with nature.
                               
Suddenly, the noise of cavalcade attracted her attention. She sat up abruptly and in the distance she spotted three horsemen, riding towards the castle.
                             
Riding on his proud steed, Lord Angeran, accompanied by his two most allegiant vassals, but nonetheless friends, was heading for Gilded Castle. Lord Guérin, one of his father’s best friends, had invited him to the occasion of his daughter’s affiance. Angeran didn’t know Isambour, but the reputation of her legendary beauty, which got around the land, sparked the young man’s curiosity and he wanted to form his own opinion.
Angeran was a very handsome man, proudly being about thirty. He was tall, strong,  with a sound body and robust nature. Azure blue eyes illuminated a face of perfectly formed contours. A froward jaw indicated a brilliant and ambitious temperament.
                          
Suddenly, a colourful shape sitting up in the fields a few dozen feet away, attracted his attention. It was a woman. But what did she do there, alone among the fields, at that early morning hour? Without any hesitation, he deviated from his original course and headed straight towards the unknown.
                                                                            
Seeing the horsemen changing their course and moving towards her, and though she used to be a bit wary toward strangers, Isambour didn’t want to run away. Quite the contrary, she proudly stretched her body, determined to fight the strangers. After all, she lived here, in her father’s country.

The dogs began to bark angrily towards the cavaliers. She commanded them to quiet down and, with a simple gesture, not to move a muscle. Obediently, the two guard dogs lay down at her feet.


When they had come face to face, the cavaliers stopped their ride. One of them immediately attracted the young girl’s attention.
                                              
His incredible stateliness made her being unable to avert her gaze from that of the unknown stranger. And he, being fascinated by the incredible beauty of Isambour, was starring at her extensively, letting his beautiful blue eyes delve into hers, like to get lost in them forever. It seemed that neither of them wanted to avert their eyes. An irresistible and uncontrollable magnetism seemed to draw them towards each other.
Being shifted out of time by this silent exchange, they stared at each other without saying a word.  
What they felt for each other was so strong, so powerful, that the feelings that came over them were too intense and even better, as if they had embraced each other totally.
It was like a revelation, an obviousness - they were made for each other.
 

Clearly, her interest for the handsome stranger, mingled with certain curiosity, urged  the young girl to run back to the castle as fast as she could. She knew that the cavaliers were forced to compass a part of the hill, to reach the main entrance. She ran across the fields and took the usual shortcut, to arrive before them.
                                                    

Entering the inner ward, she hid behind a pile of wood, to have a close watch at the newcomers. But her presence was quickly revealed by the two dogs, thinking about playing and joyfully jumping at her. Losing her balance, the young girl fell into a puddle of water.
                                                                                                                     


Laughter cheered through the courtyard. Being confused, Isambour quickly returned  into the castle to hide her embarrassment.
                                                                            

Evening came, all the guests gathered around the dinner table. It was opulently laid  with food of all kinds. Seeing an empty chair, Isambour immediately realized by counting, that one guest was missing, but she didn’t know who. The only thing she was certain was that it had to be an important guest, because his seat was very close to the landlord.
                                                                                                 
The festivity had just begun, the jugglers started their first performance, when the handsome Angeran entered the hall.
                                                                                    


Noticing the latecomer, Guérin hastened to ask him to join them and invited him to sit at the table. But contrary to one’s expectations, Angeran refused clearly. Surprised, not to say shocked, by such an improper attitude, Guérin interrupted the music by a simple gesture. Then he hastened to demand an explanation of the young man. With a swift and sure pace, Angeran approached the landlord and announced to him clearly, that he refused to attend this festivity; from his point of view, this affiance had no right to be. And, without hesitation, he finished his speech by requesting the hand of Isambour.
             



On the one hand stunned by the self-assuredness of the young man and on the other by his unexpected request, Guérin barely managed to stammer some words.
He explained quite clearly to Angeran, that it was impossible, that his daughter was already promised to Jean. He had given his word and it was not possible to him to break it.
Thereupon, the young man answered that he had nothing to do with their agreement  and that the fair Isambour would become his, whatever the cost.
Jean the Bloody now tried to interpose. Shouting and swearing at the same time, he demanded from Angeran to leave the place. As long as he would live, he would never let someone else take his place next to Isambour.
                                                              


The two rivals were at the point of beating each other, when Guérin suddenly stood up from his chair and violently bang his fist on the table.
A long silence followed. None of the guests made a move, the comments had ceased. Angeran and Jean were still facing each other, but neither moved.
                                      
Being angry, Guérin then addressed himself with an authoritative tone to the two men  in turns. To the first one he announced that his decision was irrevocable. He would never retract a given word. His daughter would marry Jean, no matter if he agreed or not.
Then it was Jean, whom he informed, that the affiance was postponed to the  following day. After this, he turned to the guests and asked all of them to adjourn to their chambers. The festivity was over.
Surprised by Guérin’s authoritative tone, which usually had been of an even-tempered and suave nature, everybody obeyed without saying a single word.
Returning to her chamber, Isambour still couldn’t believe what had happened just then.
She couldn’t banish Angeran’s beautiful face from her mind. The courage, the boldness he had demonstrated, overwhelmed her heart and mind.
                                                      

Suddenly, in a dark corner of the corridor, she saw a shadow appearing in front of her. It was Angeran.
                                                                                                                 
They stared at each other for a moment, then, with a passionate swing, he took her in his arms. She felt being lifted from the floor and not having the time to understand what was happening, she found herself being pressed against the young man’s strong body.
                                                                           

“My kingdom is very far from here. Won’t you regret?”
“I will follow you to the end of the world, if necessary."
                                                    
These were the only words they exchanged. Still holding her tightly against himself, Angeran headed straight towards the castle gate.
                                                               
In the dark corridors of the sleeping castle, the two lovers were advancing slowly and quietly, not to draw the attention of the guards. Angeran still held the young Isambour firmly snuggled against him. Everything was calm, nothing moved. The castle seemed to be fallen into a long and deep sleep.  They were only a few steps away from the gate, the door to freedom, ready to rush headlong into their new life; when all of a sudden, a menacing shadow was standing in front of them, blocking their passage.
It was the terrible Jean the Bloody!
                                                                                    

Seeing the young people tenderly clinging to one another, he quickly understood what was going on and turned to Angeran on a threatening tone.
“By the fires of hell, are you about to leave us behind by kidnapping my fiancée, unbeliever?” In an angry gesture, he tried to grab the arm of Isambour to draw her towards him. But the young woman violently pushed back his authoritarian hand and nestled a little more against the strong body of Angeran.
                                                     
Furious at this new attempt of rapprochement, Jean was hopping mad. His jaw clenched and a hideous smirk distorted his menacing mouth. Again he turned to Angeran.
“Believe you that I am going to let you take my promised away?”
“I do not belong to you and I will never belong to you!” Isambour shouted furiously.
        
“I have your father’s promise, my sweetheart, and that’s enough for me.”
“My father loves me and he will understand.”
She was about bursting into tears. She felt in her heart that all her words had no effect on Jean, who persisted and didn’t want to listen. Then it was Angeran’s turn to speak.
“A promise is not a commitment.” he shortly replied.
“I would like to see it!”, exclaimed Jean, “Engagement is a formal promise; who backs out of it loses its honour and runs the risk of wrath and revenge of  the one who is derided.”
“The betrothal didn’t take place, to my knowledge.” Angeran didn’t seem to want to give in to the pressure exerted by his rival.
“Isambour belongs to me!” Jean shouted, being short of argument.  Anger distorted his already hideous features even more.
Not being able to abide any more, the young woman gave free rein to her anger.
“I detest you, I hate from the bottom of my heart; never will I belong to you, listen ... NEVER ... rather die!"
                                                                                                         
“Don’t delude yourself, my dear; you will belong to me... Until this day no woman has escaped me, you won’t be an exception to the rule.” Almost immediately he went on a furious tone. “By all the devils, should it be that my promised would be the only girl whom I do not please?”
While speaking, he thrust out his chest complacently. “You ought to change your mind, my dear, because I don’t have the intention of letting you slip from my hands.”
Again, he started a gesture towards Isambour.
“If you touch one single of her hair, I’ll stab you like a pig!” Angeran threatened. His hands on the pommel of his sword, he got ready to unsheathe it when the noise of footsteps drew their attention.
                                                                                              

The guard, alerted by shouting, finally woke up of its light half-sleep and approached with big strides, headed by Guérin, who was roused from his sleep.
“By all saints, what’s happening here? Why such clamour?"
                                                     

Not waiting anymore, Isambour rushed at his feet. “Father, I’m begging you, withdraw the promise you made to Jean. I don’t want to be his wife. It’s Angeran that I love.”
Being touched deep down by the confession of his daughter, yet embarrassed by the situation, the old man gently lifted Isambour, took her in his arms and, with a loving and reassuring gesture, caressed her hair. He tried in vain to calm the sobs that shook the girl. “Calm down my child ... calm down ... everything will be arranged.” His words were intended solely to reassure the girl and to appease her touching grief. He knew very well that nothing and nobody would make Jean the Bloody change his mind.
 

Although he knew the answer in advance, he tried a negotiation nevertheless.
“Jean, I’m willing to cede you my land of the “Low Coasts” in exchange for the  promise I gave you. I want to see in you a man of honour. Accept this deal and I would forever be grateful to you and indebted for the rest of my days."
                                       
It was a very good offer that Guérin just made him. The land of Low Coasts comprised three quarters of his domain. Moreover, this was rich and fertile land. By accepting, Jean would become one of the greatest landowners of the kingdom of France. The imploring tone of Guérin told a lot about the anguish he felt.
Against all expectations, Jean burst into a horrible and sinister roar of laughter.
“My friend, even if you would give me your entire territory, I would refuse your proposal. You once promised me the hand of your daughter and I want it. Nobody will make me change my mind.”
“This promise was forced off from me under threat.”
“That’s enough! I refuse to negotiate anymore. Isambour belongs to me!"
                      
 Remaining silent so far, Angeran unsheathes his sword and lunged at Jean. A fierce fight between the two men followed.
                                                                                   

“Messieurs, enough! Stop this fight unworthy of your ranks, immediately!”
Surprised by the imposing tone of Guérin, both men parted.
                                              

“You both are my guests, and as such, I ask you to respect my hospitality. I cannot tolerate fighting under my roof. We all need rest and reflection. Tomorrow things will be clearer. My daughter, go back to your room, you will be put under good guard, until the situation has quietened down and a solution been found."
                                             

Although he used an authoritarian tone speaking to Isambour, Guérin mainly tried to protect her from Jean's bad activities. Who knows of what this monster could be capable. This man did not inspire him with trust; quite the contrary, he was wary of him like the plague. By putting her under a short-range guard, he knew she would risk nothing and feel reassured.
“As for you Messieurs, it would be preferable that you leave the castle immediately."
     
At the moment, when Angeran was bowing to Guérin to offer him his apologies and taking leave of him, Jean stroke him a violent sword blow in his side.
                                          

Being seriously injured, the young man collapses at the feet of Guérin. In a heart-rending cry, Isambour rushed to Angeran, who was lying unconsciously on the floor in a pool of blood.
                                                                                                 

Outraged by the perfidy of this cowardly gesture, Guérin ordered the guard to take Jean away of the castle. Furious about being treated like a common villain, Jean let himself drag away by the guard, exclaiming threats and promises to take revenge.
        

With great difficulty the guards managed to separate Isambour from the agonizing  body of Angeran. Sobbing and being convinced of forever having lost her one and only love, she finally let them carry herself back to the room, where she fell on the floor inanimately.                                                                                                                          

 

In a state of indescribable anger, Lord of Brivoyeux passed the entrance of the castle. Swiftly jumping off his mount covered in foam, he posted himself in the middle of the courtyard, shouting out the name of his friend. “Guérin! Show yourself, Guérin!” His powerful and authoritative voice resounded throughout the castle.

Alerted by the shouts, Guérin hastened to meet him. This was not a friendly visit,  which he knew very well. Standing face to face, the two men seemed to defy each other.
 


Geoffroy of Brivoyeux scrutinized Guérin, as if he was searching for answers to questions, that were posed to him. At this moment, they were not two friends who met each other, but two enemies, who confronted with one another.
Geoffroy reproached Guérin with the attack on his son. He didn’t understand why his best friend could let Jean do that without reacting.
                                                             

Guérin tried in vain to explain, why he wasn’t able to do anything to avert it. In fact, the unexpectedness of the attack had not allowed him to react in time.
But Geoffroy was consumed by anger and remained deaf to the arguments of his friend. He then ordered his guards to put Angeran on a stretcher.
                                         

Guérin tried to make him change his mind. Angeran was in a very critical state.
Hope of saving him was almost nonexistent, but it existed. A journey would be fatal to him, but Geoffroy refused. A heated quarrel followed thereupon.
                                         

Finally, after he had no arguments left, Guérin gave in. Geoffroy left the castle like he had arrived, which is to say angrily and swiftly, taking along his son, whose life was slowly seeping out of him.
                                                                                                   

 
 
 
 
 
 

7 comments:

Jonawick said...

Hi! I just saw your site and read the story. You've got some really beautiful stuff up and I like the story so far. I can't wait to read what happens in the next chapter!

Lama said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Jonawick! So glad you enjoyed reading. I hope to finish the last two chapters soon.

Anonymous said...

i think that it is a great story but mine always go wrong can you advise

helen said...

please could you advise me on how to create a godd story but i have one problem somtimes my charters clothes dont match the story

Lama said...

Thank you for your comment(s), helen (well, I think you posted both).
Since I'm not the one who wrote the story, but a friend of mine did, I'm afraid I can't give you good advice.
What exactly is your problem? The writing, or creating sets for picture taking?
If you are looking for clothes for your characters, there is a long list of links in this blog. Take a look on the HYCF Page.
If you're looking for some special clothings I used in the story, that you can't find in the list, just tell me what you want and I can upload them here.

Nonni said...

This is fascinating and lovely. Great beauty in words and pictures.
Thank you.

Tyllerö said...

Wow. I can't say anything else...but...wow. I just found these pages and, well, I must say I'm ..just. Wow.

Sorry :D. Can't say anything else.

One month ago I started my RKC (or what the heck is the name of Royal Kindom Challence). I have tried to find other stories which use the same theme at least. These stories are actually very hard to find. I'm glad that I found this place. I have had thoughts to write my story (yes it is also a story not just preeding ;D) also in English but I'm not sure if anyone would even be interested about it.

Ah, so lovely site. Love it. If you like, you can make a visit on my page (sorry it is only in Finnish).
In English my page is called Nightingale and the Dissonant. http://satakieliriitasointu.blogspot.com/

Thanks!