THE CAMORIN CONUNDRUM
The theater was abuzz with the commoner’s excitement. Behind the curtain was a collection of wildly dressed individuals who yearned at their first appearance to the masses. From the comically short and obese to those who were the true stars of this production ,the variety would strike any fair eye as unusual, to say the very least. Their creator, the man who had brought them together, stood anxiously at their head. He gripped his palms open, then closed, and open again. His sweat seeped from his pores, excreting his nervousness but joyfulness that his work would finally not be constrained by the courts.
The shawns, sackbuts, crumhorns, and pifferos harmonized with the cacophony of the rising drums. Stirred by this noise the awaiting commoners wrenched their attentions from the small performers who had taken to small acts, such as juggling, before the shows. Above the pitiful Helena, side-alley, stage was a clumsily painted sign, with large red lettering, that read “La Renaissance.” Out on the stage struck our man, the writer who wished only to have his works finally heard. His name, as announced by a maestro being overran by the band, was Edwin Belhurst.
At first the crowd was silent as the man stood, looking at the planked boards below him. The sounds from offstage petered out. Within a flash he had jutted his hand upward, announcing to the crowd with a grievous conviction, “While wars tend to start, we’ll bring you moments of culture and art.” The crowd looked around, nervous of what was to come. He continued, this time with more force on his rhyme scheme. “Welcome to La Renaissance! With poets, painters, and bon vivants. And merry minstrels, who stroll the streets of Helena a’strummin’ their lutes.”
From behind the curtain three men peaked their heads out and replied with the quip, “in puffy pants and pointy leather boots!” With that the stage was flooded with the actors, joining in the recitation of the opening. “Welcome to La Renaissance, where we ‘o’ and ‘a’ you with ambiance. The latest and the greatest, we bring it to you – with much ado.” The troupe would cock its heads to see Edwin, who would speak loudly but with a calm demeanor, “The Camorin Conundrum!”
As the music once again rose to a crescendo the players rushed off their grandstand to once again leave the bold Edwin to begin the drama. He swaggered to the middle of the platform, peering off into the audience. He begun, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. As we set our scene upon a reddish ground.” With striking conviction he lowered his tone, offering a stooped bow to address the masses. “Fairies near, for they lie in waiting.” Just then, several faeries had danced across the scene, wearing beautiful pastels of purple and off-whites. Their faces were adorned with stage white powder, plentiful blush to accommodate their red wigs, and various vegetation hanging from their braids above.
The narrator continued on, “among them young Tigoria, o’ how captivating.” He raised his eyebrows towards the crowd, looking between the gallery and the voluptuous heroine who now stepped out from among the group. With surprising swiftness he suddenly pointed, fingering several members of the audience, “Eyes do lock upon her fallen figure! I have seen how thy faces quickly transfigured. Who am I, I see thy jest, that I shall be opposed to lust? Well thee should know who doth offer this address, none other than a slice from the upper crust!” With that he pranced about, his nose up-turned, in a fashion of entitlement. With a flash, fake gold pieces dashed in the air towards the onlookers. Several scrambled to collect on the fool’s treasure, several hurling themselves before realizing the flair was merely a jest.
The narrator once again bent himself, hushing his tone to that of a stage-whisper. “Back to quiet, my most noble brothers; I do not intend to tell thy mothers! Quickly we again must focus young Camorin soon fights Melanocus: A giant who, both in girth and weight, do defy the needs of a mate!” As Edwin began to pace he recited the introduction, “O’ be it so, Camorin defeats the beast he shall join Tigoria in one mighty feast,” a soft wink was offered with this pause, “be it so, Camorin ends in perish he shall take up residency at thy local parish. Yet promised victory Camorin hast been such, with but a mention of Tigoria’s divine touch. As devils swirl in our fraught air, these two may make a tumultuous pair!”
A flash of purple-hued fabrics joined by vines preceded a woman of beauty, she spoke to her sisters as she offered a side-cocked stance for the audience to engage with the dialogue. “My fellow fae come gather and see, my soon-to-be royal decree. I say unto thee, let it reign true, that mighty Camorin shall rally as my retinue”
The faeries called in response, a harmonizing tone that drove itself with shrill notes, “Ay, my sister but how shalt thou persuade his mortal soul, when ours be as black as sooty coal?”
The staged Tigoria turned to her sisters with a furrowed brow. Upset at their lack of intuition she divulged her plans to the attentive gathering before her. “Men are fickle beasts, not all can be as unfaithful to their sex as priests. Let him then be swayed by my persuasion,” she said as she shook her hips at the front row. “So that he may rise to the occasion.” The men, catching on to the jest, offered a wily round of applause and whistles. She strode across the stage to this thundering ovation from the males, her followers nipping at her heels. “I shall strike at the loathly, swag-bellied starve-lackey Melanocus, while Camorin is under my hypnosis. Once I lure the giant close, into the open meadows, I shall loose, as an eagle on high, plenty of rocks that can fly. Upon the behemoth they shall land, and Camorin and I shall rule the woodlands.”
The fae-sisters, giggling with sinister excitement, called a unified response once more. “Yes sister, make it so. Alas, he sits under a willow!” The faeries peered across the stage, blocking the sun from their eyes with hands strewn across their foreheads. The newly entered Camorin, a man with mock elf ears attached, has taken a seat and wiped his damp brow.
Camorin sighed, staring off high above the audience and proclaiming, “’Tis a world that is cruel to make a man walk without shoes. Such fawning light bringeth growth yet compounds my oath. I shall not cease, or rest one day, until I find my royal way.”
Tigoria’s feet twiddled across the rostrum, imitating floating. She veered towards the seated hero, her hair flowing and eyes watering, “Most gracious warrior, I plead to thee. Protect me from the terror and thee shall reign lordly.”
Camorin perked up, jumping to his feet in an extraordinary fashion. One of the player’s ears flew off into a puddle off-stage. “Most holy blessings upon thine beauty, I shall raise to the courage to pursue death’s duty!” He drew his sword, flashing it about. From a distance the faeries let out a shrill laugh that matched with the crowd’s. The attempted gloatery fell flat but Camorin hardly noticed. The fae’s posture straightened only once Tigoria offered them a grueling stare.
The enchantress returned her gaze to the musty elf, offering a faint smile to him and a disgusted look to the audience. “Oh such sweet man, thy sword reigns as sharp as thine ears! First among attractive volunteers.”
The resounding response from Camorin was clear as he planted his sword in the ground, narrowly missing his foot with the point of the blade. He placed his hand on his hips, which elicited several cheers from the masculine side of the group, and announces, “Who shall be my overgorged prey, one that I shall skewer and advance their die away?”
“Melanocus,” Tigoria replied with a damaging description, “the beslubbering, clay-brained, giant who reigns over the brushland defiant of her people, dastard weasel.” She shook her head, dramatically feigning a distraught nature accompanied by a stage-faint into the arms of the elf.
He caught her and went about planting her back upright. Camorin then grasped her hand, bending on one knee, “Worry not, my true enchantress of the eyes. I shall return with nothing short of his head as a prize!” Then he rose and sprinted off stage in the oddest fashion possible, his legs touching his chest.
The fae-beaut turned to the audience, shaking her head at the overzealous, awkward, spirit she was tasked with overcoming. Finally her sisters swarmed around her and let out a piercing heaven-aimed cackle. A short chorus was offered by the faeries. “He thinks he found love, a sweet mellow dove! But soon he will be under our swaaaaaaay!!!” Following the boo’s resonating from the audience the stage was cleared of actors as the witches quickly wisp their way behind the patched curtains. However, on their exit, drums began to beat to a slow march. Melanocus lumbered onto the stage. A beast of a man, carrying a tree for clubbing in one hand and a drinking horn in the other, he stood proudly center stage.
Fixed upon his head was a butterfly crown of great beauty. His beard was wet with wine as he finished the horn’s worth of alcoholic sustenance and thrust it off-stage. He then spoke in a thundering voice, “I am the Melanocus who rules these lands, and I issue this command!” With that his club swung down to the stage, “If any shall lay eyes upon the witch fairy, who hast barrened my wives plentiful fields, then send her to my mortuary where bugs shall feast on her without yield.”
Without much merit to his stealth Camorin peaked from around the corner, staring at the wine-guzzling spectacle. He offered an aside as he pranced out into the daylight, “Alas, as I crush the infamous thing, and I shall find love for those who love me.” The hero drew his sword to the cheering of the onlookers. “Sweet Tigoria, I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes if I am to survive.” The dirty reference, overlooked by many, was clapped at by a few in the rear of the mob.
The giant turned as the royal-seeking elf took sudden rise against him. In response the powerful giant struck once in an upper fashion, then swung his stump high into the air, it lauding over the now prone Camorin, “Die now, obscene, flap-eared villain! As thy may break words with me, yet thee charge forlorn into battle. Ay, as now I shall break it in thy face, so as not to break it from my behind!” Rounds of unmatched laughter swelled from the commoners, enjoying a joke on flatulence.
Just as all seemed lost, and the guffawing of the rabble died, several rocks fell from above, hitting the giant’s bald head. A bird’s self-glorifying screech was projected from behind the curtain and the mighty giant falls.
“Sun, hide thy valiant beams! For Melanocus hast done his reign.” A resounding reverberation struck as the giant fell, dead, his tongue comically sliding out of his mouth.
Several midget-actors, dressed a jesters, rushed onto the stage to start a painfully slow drag of the corpse. The second act started with the body still being unsuccessfully drug. Edwin returned to the stage to deliver the second prologue. “Such entrail-faced fawning given by our lady, no doubt her intentions shady. Yet more is to come, so stay seated my friends. Enjoy the spirited rum and the newlyweds shall tell thee of their amends. Camorin hath beheaded the brute, securing a fairy and crown as his loot. Yet on their way home a terrible bite shall lead to discord by midnight. If not enough, the death hath given rise to a new prosecutor, one that spells the end for the seducer. Though she may fall, Camorin shall rule over all woodland sprawl, then consign his broke heart to his internal walls.”
With that the narrator left as Camorin trotted onto stage holding a clearly fake severed head, mirrored after the giant. He would grasp Tigoria by the waist and say, “Crowned I shall be, and crowned I shall remain. Under this tree and near my fallen foe my reign hath begun!” The newly crowned king saddled himself and his bride-to-be on his black mule, Nevagios, and screamed, “COME my fair lady, my home awaits. There we shall forever entwine our fates.” He sppured the mule onward.
As the two frolicked, straddling a mule’s head on a stick, the evil-doer Queen looked down, lifting a hand with a small amount of blood on it. “The head, for which this elf hast attached to his saddle, hath bitten me on our travel. ‘Tis merely a cut, nothing more than that. Another slit a nun shall work at.” Some members gasp at the sacrilegious remark while others, the less religiously attached of the lot, let a laugh escape.
As the couple exited from view the sisters emerged to the evoking of hisses from the assembly. They offered another aside. “Fellow wickeds, we feel our plan hath been undone before she hath birthed him a son. Taken away, our victory yet begun, we shall be taken one by one. First her, then us. We prefer her cuts!” They all exited with a terrible squealing, sobbing, trail in their wake.
Sawing began behind the stage, as commoners and nobles watching from the main thoroughfare were struck with confusion. Mr. Belhurst emerged again, “Terrible news, my most competent observers. Tigoria’s leg has taken to the bite poorly. Such a fever is fervor, doctors are quite sure she’ll lose the leg.”
A woman screamed offstage, drawing everyone’s attention. “MY LEG! PLACE NOT ONE HA- TIS GONE!”
With an uneasy smile the narrator turns back, “I believe she hath been abandoned by one-fourth her lower half,” raises his finger and mimes writing it down, “an excellent epitaph!” He left to an applause mixed with hooting.
After a few moments, where the crowd was left talking amongst themselves, Tigoria stumbled from the curtain’s mid-gap, her leg painted to appear wooden. “Damn that cow-pizzled ox-head that did this to me! I have in my right mind a good thought to flee.” Just then the drums started to pound a marching beat. Tigoria looked to the sound and saw the emerging giant woman, fear animating her face. “Such sights my eyes have since avoided, ‘tis the one who’s fertility I devoided.”
The same giant as before, just missing the fake beard and wearing a woman’s wig trudged onto the stage. Between the frizzled locks of the giantess’ hair she saw Tigoria and blew her rage, exclaiming to the crowd, “I have but lost my production but it appears my perpetrator is not without reduction.” After examining the fae from a distance, she spotted the leg missing, purposefully exuding her plan, “one leg off, I shall take it up quick, and bash thine skull into a paste so slick!” With that she charged the witching fairy, ripping off her wooden appendage and bashing her with it. The crowd ripped into a volley of laughter, insults, and cheering as the brawl began. The strikes of the giant and over-exaggerated acting of Tigoria drew amusement from even the most tight-lipped individuals.
Tigoria howled, crying for Camorin, “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and thou no breath at all? Thou shalt come no more, never, never, never, never, never! I can no more, be it, I die.” She went limp and spread on the ground.
The giant declared her victory, speaking to the sky as the audience jeered the dead witch. “Husband, thou’st put in my hands thy limb of wrath!” She would drop the pegleg and continue on, “I hath crushed down with heavy fall the rascally, shallow, knave! A coward and taker of our mongrel daughter.”
The unsuspected hero entered, as Melanocus’ wife exited, stage opposite. He fell to his knees at his love’s corpse, unaware of her plans to ruin him. He begins his monologue, addressing the audience with pain tingling in his voice. “Why, this is torment, nor shall I ever escape it. Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of a goddess and was primed to taste the eternal joys of heaven, am deprived with ten thousand deaths of my beloved.” The king pauses, standing and pointing to the body as he developed his plan. “In being deprived of everlasting bliss am I to seek after destruction of myself? Nay, I shall lead on, to be enthroned over all my elven-kind. The evil that men do live is too often interred with their bones, so let me atone for injustices and spend endless years within my home. Be it that one day I shall again gain favor, with higher beings erasing this disfavor.”
As his sobbing turned into him clutching his face, the attending masses let out a sympathetic sigh. Camorin stood, faced the crowd, and bowed as the sighs and sadness turned to a jubilation at the extent of the playgoers enjoyment. The cast would join them, including Edwin, and offer a collective bow and respectful nod to the band. Several minas landed in the pots situated at the front of the stage and Edwin stepped forward to make a final pitch out of rhyme.
“When asked, the nobles of the courts couldn’t find time to partake in our play. I had to find players of my own to perform it, and even then, the high-ended braggarts wouldn’t listen to this eloquence. What majesty has to flow from our pens? If you have interest in joining our motley bunch and performing more shows live, as we do travel, please do approach me soon! Furthermore, if you find your noble court or household lacking good works of art, poetry, and plays then contact Edwin Belhurst, myself, about granting us your employ. From Elven to common, I have no issue with writing in different vernaculars.”
He concluded, “La Renaissance believes that we need art in our world and we intend to create pieces that last for generations. Histories and dramas, tragedies and comedies, music and paintings should once again be the enjoyment of both the rich and the common. Rebirth the arts and sciences to end such petty things as wars and conflict. Blessings upon you all, and may you find us here next week.” With that, the crowd dispersed and the players took to recovering props and instruments. Another night complete, but many more to come.