Orlando Furiso, Canto XXI
In this canto we learn all about… her:
We also get another half dozen new characters, because of course we do.
To start Ariosto gives advice about promises and contracts that’s more wishful thinking than sound. That done he returns to Zerbino and the crone riding across the countryside. They encounter another knight who actually knows the crone and says she deserves to die. Zerbino says he can’t allow that because of the vow he took. Lances get unlanced and before long there’s a joust going on. Zerbino wins and the other knight is gravely wounded. Zerbino then asks the knight why he hates the crone so much.
And so starts another story…
This knight’s name is Ermonide. He’s from Holland. His brother Filandro was also a knight and Filandro traveled throughout Greece. There he met and befriended a Serbian Baron named Argeo. While staying with Argeo, Filandro met Argeo’s wife and she instantly developed the hots for our good dutch boy. She kept doing all she could to lure him into some smutching. But Filandro resisted so well her lust turned to loathing and she wanted nothing more than to destroy him. First she accuses him of attacking her, then when Argeo has him locked in prison, she conspires to trick Filandro into killing Argeo. This done she smutches with Filandro as her price for letting him go free.
It’s all very Femme Fatale like a Noir movie except with words in it.
The shame of it all sends Filandro fleeing back to Holland. But even there Gabrina conspires against him. Finding a shifty doctor, she has the man poison Filandro and so it goes. Filandro dies. Ermonide now despises Gabrina. Zerbino has vowed to protect Gabrina. Ergo Ermonide must fight Zerbino. The knights weep for each other then some servants show up to carry Ermonide away for treatment. Zerbino bids him goodbye then rides away with Gabrina, cursing her and his fate the whole while.
They go on like this for a bit, each trying to out-insult the other, until when, “lo to the west, the sound of clashing and shrieks was heard and Zerbino and Grabina towards the clamor spurred.”
And what happens then, our next canto will show.
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Zerbino of Scotland, Ermonide of Holland, Filandro also of Holland, Heraclius Emperor of the Greeks, Argeo the Serbian Baron, Morando another Serbian Baron
Damsels: Gabrina the Crone
Monsters: Gabrina the Crone, a poisoner
Magic Items: Poison