Ah, my friend! I am sure you share my excitement at this recent stroke of amazing luck, and that you and the others of our society are celebrating the momentous occasion.
Julien be praised! 'Tis not every day that one rediscovers a lost part of our poetic tradition and religious heritage. Alas, the fall of the Direnni Hegemony in the First Era also led to a steep decline in art and culture, and many great works of the oral tradition were lost, from which I fear Breton culture has never quite recovered. So few fragments of La Geste de la Dame Méredie have come down to us — The palest reflected sliver of the legendary Breton bard Ruavan de Challegoux's masterpiece Le Lai de la Dame Méredie, reputedly the lengthiest of lais extant during the First Era, it was said to have been some 800(!) couplets long, unmatched in poetic sensibility or invention before or since.
To have found new, until now thought lost portions of the Geste, here in the library of Balfiera, whence I am now writing to you! Sai must have blessed us in truth; my mind is quite a-whirl with it all.
The notion of parallels and similarities in the Geste with parts of the Exegesis of the Tract of Merid-Nunda you advanced at our previous meeting intrigued me; knowing your complaints of good translations from the Old Bretic being hard to find, I have undertaken the attempt to translate the parts of the Geste recently found. In earnest of the full work, I hereby enclose my translation of my favourite portion of the new discoveries: details of Méredie's defiance of King Magnon, and the start of her road as the first Knight Questing, which tradition survives amongst our youngsters in High Rock to this day.
... "King Magnon then proclaimed in a great voice that none of his household should remain in such strife, and he called upon his knights, ninety times nine, great chieftains and warriors bold that were there, to forswear any part theretofore taken in the quarrels of Oriel and Sheor. And all were silent in court, as the ninety times nine warriors came forth to swear their oaths and cast [their swords] at the feet of majesty.
And at last when the ninety and nine great chieftains and warriors were sworn; the court remained deathly still, though all was chaos without, for there yet remained one blade at its bearer's side: Aurbrisant, the red-gold sword of day, best of the Three Swords of [text lost], which fire was as the thousand rays of Magnon's crown, which sharpness was sharper than the north wind in winter when At-mora snows bluster; the sword of the Paladin Méredie, youngest of Magnon's knights, mighty in stature and deeds, sister to Oriel's queen Kynaree and kin to Magnon himself.
Came then the Paladin, in mail and helm of lightning-made-crystal, and in each jeweled facet burned the light of a hundred hundred stars, cold, pure, pitiless, and around the knight's shoulders a cloak woven of [scented] rainbows, that dazzled the eye and delighted the heart unto weeping with their fragrance (and this is why Méredie is the patroness of perfumers). In her hands she bore Aurbrisant, best of swords, and her stride bold and defiant, as she made obeisance before the throne.
[... text lost]
The King bade his knight thusly: "Now renounce thy service to Oriel for the nonce, and Kynaree his Queen, and tarry not further, for the court nears departure. Remember thou art dear kin to me, and it wounds me to see thee so obstinate."
The Knight of the Red-Gold Sword shed a tear, which rolled away (and that tear later became the lake Elenalt [Lake Ilinalta]), but replied, "Alas my Lord! Forgive your humble servant, for she must disobey even your royal command- the ties of blood, all unwilling are stricter than liege-oath."
"Again I say to ye, renounce ye your service, Knight Méredie, and your oaths, and all your works sworn to Oriel and Oriel's court, for what my brother-king intends is kin-strife. Accursed is the kinslayer [amongst the etadienne], and are we not bound closer even than the dearest of sisters?"
The Paladin bowed her proud head, and a second, larger tear fell, and a third (and this is how the Rumare of Cyrod came to be). "Forgive your foolish knight, oh great King, but oath-sworn am I as Paladin to defend the weak. Thee hast a great host of ninety times nine knights, and armsmen numbered as the starry fields of far Etheria, but who then shall succour Oriel's people in their time of need? Who would tend the widows and the helpless of Sheor's making? For Oriel my brother had Trinimaque once mighty as his right hand, but now that hand is proven faithless and craven, and my sister's husband is hard pressed against Sheor's cunning."
Then King Magnon grew wroth, and his anger was terrible, as the coming of a storm tide, as the breaking of a thousand swords, as the speed of a rushing torrent. And yet he held the royal wrath in check, bidding Méredie renounce her solemn oaths, and abjure her ties to Oriel and Oriel's kingdom for the third time. "My daughter, surely this is the course of foolishness, to hold to Oriel and his cause, wherein is no gain but only loss, and [text illegible]." But again this the knight would not do, saying her cause was not Oriel's, but that of Oriel's people, and all that sorrowed or were injured from the strife now consuming the earth.
Magnon's anger there exceeded all restraint, and his wrath was poured out on the Paladin's head. "By your words you are forsworn to me and mine court, and henceforth ye have no place within my kingdom. Go [out] now, and take nothing with you that you possessed from my hand." Méredie paled, but doffed the wondrous cloak of rainbows, and removed her glorious mail and helm of lightning-made-crystal, and lastly bade she farewell to Aurbrisant, best of blades; and set them with a low bow at the King's feet.
Others then spoke on Méredie's behalf, and there was clamour in the court where there had been silence. Magnon indeed repented his hasty words, and gifted the Knight back her armour with his blessing, and many fair words. But she, being proud and of Royal blood scorned such charity, laughing at the King's inconstancy. Thus the Paladin went forth from that place, never to return. Anon the Paladin's steps turned her towards the High Rock, where King Oriel's court lay, sieged by Sheor's trickery, and traces of her passing are marked still upon the land, where the hills and streams bear her divine grace.
But Aurbrisant, foremost of blades, forged with a will and mind of its own, went with her, scorning a life of useless ornamentation in Magnon's court; and the deeds of glory wrought by the Knight of the Red-Gold Sword, too numerous to number, are told still by all the firesides of Altbal."