The Fool’s Quest

First set down from the oral tradition in the middle of the 19th century, the tale of Peronnik the Idiot has often been described as a Breton re-telling of Chrétien de Troyes’ 12th century romance Perceval, the Story of the Grail. However, others maintain that the story is truly a surviving descendant of one once transmitted orally by the Celtic bards of old and that the tales of Peronnik, Perceval and the medieval Welsh romance Peredur all share the same ancient, lost source.

It is said that, in the year in which the following events took place, the great forests of Brocéliande, Loudéac and Quénécan were but one vast expanse of enchanted woodland; a primeval and magical belt around the girth of Armorica. It was to a small farm nestled close against these woods that Peronnik, the feeble-minded son of a poor widow, came one afternoon in hopes of securing a meal and perhaps a measure of fresh milk to wash it down with.

By chance, the lady of the house was scraping the remains of lunch from the sides of her cauldron when she heard the lad’s voice asking, in the name of God, for a little food. She stopped her cleaning and thrust the iron basin towards him, saying: “Here, my poor fool, eat the remainder and say a prayer for our pigs, who seem unwilling to get fat.”

Peronnik
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Peronnik seated himself on the ground, put the cauldron between his legs and eagerly scraped its sides with his fingernails. Unfortunately, his efforts met with little reward, for the family’s spoons had done their work thoroughly. Nevertheless, he licked his fingers and made an appreciative grunt as if he had never tasted finer fare. “It is millet”, he murmured, “millet flour soaked in the milk of a black cow by the best cook in the land.”

The farmer’s wife was delighted to receive such fulsome praise: “Poor innocent,” she said, “although there is very little left, I will add a scrap of rye-bread.” So, she brought the boy a cut of bread which he bit into ravenously, declaring that it must have been kneaded by none other than the baker to the Bishop of Gwened. Flattered, the woman responded by saying that nothing elevated the taste of good bread better than a spread of freshly-churned butter and to prove her words, she brought him some in a bowl. After taking this, Peronnik declared that this was living butter, not even excelled by the butter of White Week itself. Overjoyed, the farmer’s wife quickly added a piece of dripping left over from the Sunday soup to the lad’s bowl.

Praising every mouthful, Peronnik swallowed everything as if it had been fresh spring water; for it was very long since he had enjoyed such a meal. The farmer’s wife watched him as he ate and was therefore startled to hear the sudden appearance of a horse. There, in front of her house, a powerful white mare was held at the bit by a fully armoured knight who addressed the woman; asking her for directions to the road for the castle of Kerglas. “Good Heavens, Sir,” exclaimed the farmer’s wife, “are you really set on going there?”

Mounted knight
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Yes,” replied the knight, “and I have come from a land so distant that I have travelled night and day these past three months to reach this far on my journey.”

“And what have you come so far to seek at Kerglas?” asked the Breton woman.

“I have come in quest of the bowl of gold and the diamond lance.”

“These must be two very valuable things?” asked Peronnik.

“They are more valuable than all the crowns on earth,” replied the knight; “for not only will the golden bowl instantly produce all the food one could desire but one need only drink from it to be cured of all ailments; the dead themselves are restored to life by touching it with their lips. As for the diamond lance, it destroys all that it touches.”

“And who does this diamond spear and golden bowl belong to?” asked a bewildered Peronnik.

“To a sorcerer named Rogear, who lives in the castle of Kerglas,” answered the farmer’s wife. “He is to be seen every other day near the forest pathway yonder, riding upon his black mare and always followed by a young colt. No one dares molest him, for he always holds that dreadful lance in his hand.”

“Yes, that is also my understanding” replied the knight, “but the command of God forbids him to make use of it within the castle. So, as soon as he arrives there, the lance and bowl are deposited at the end of a long, underground passage, sealed by a door which no key will open; therefore, it is in the castle that I propose to tackle the sorcerer.”

“Alas, you will never succeed, my good sir,” replied the farmer’s wife. “More than a hundred gentlemen have already attempted it but not one amongst them has ever returned.”

“I know it, my good woman,” answered the knight, “but they had not been instructed, as I have, by the hermit of the Blavet.”

“And what did the old hermit tell you?” asked Peronnik.

“He counselled me on all that I must do,” replied the knight. “Firstly, I shall have to cross an enchanted wood wherein every kind of magic and deception will be put in force to terrify and bewilder me from my quest. Great numbers of my predecessors have lost themselves there and sadly died of hunger, fatigue or madness.”

“And if somehow you succeed in crossing it?” said Peronnik.

“If grace remains with me and I get safely through,” continued the knight, “I shall meet a korrigan armed with a flaming sword, which reduces all it touches to ashes. This evil korrigan keeps watch beside an apple tree, from which it is necessary that I should gather a solitary apple.”

The Tree of Knowledge-1 by Bill Bell
The Tree of Knowledge ©Bill Bell

“And then, what then?” Peronnik asked in wonder.

“Then, I shall discover the laughing flower guarded by a fierce lion whose mane is made of vicious vipers. This flower I must also gather; after which I must cross the Lake of Dragons to fight the black man, who throws an iron ball that always hits its mark and returns of itself to its master. Then I shall enter into the Vale of Delights where everything that can tempt and stay the feet of a good Christian will be arrayed before me. Once through, I should reach a raging river which has but a single ford and there I shall meet a lady clad in black whom I shall take upon my horse when she will reveal to me all that remains to be done.”

The farmer’s wife did her best to persuade the stranger that it would be impossible for him to survive so many arduous trials but he dismissed her concerns saying that a knight’s quest could not be understood by a woman such as she. Thus, after being shown the right track into the forest, the knight set off at a gallop and was soon lost among the trees.

Heaving a heavy sigh of pity, the woman shook her head, declaring that another soul had left for his judgement before the Lord; then giving another crust of bread to Peronnik, she bade him go on his way. He was about to follow her advice, when the farmer returned home from the fields. This man had just released his flighty young cowherd from his service and the sight of Peronnik was to him most welcome; he thought he had been sent the very aid he sought. After putting a few questions to Peronnik, he asked him whether he would stay at the farm to look after the cattle. Peronnik would have preferred having no one but himself to look after, for no one had a greater aptitude than he for doing nothing but what suited him. However, the taste of that meal still clung to his lips and so he let himself be tempted and accepted the farmer’s offer.

Paul Gauguin - Little Breton Shepherd
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Whereupon the good man conducted him to the edge of the forest and there counted aloud all his cattle and having cut him a stout stick of hazel, bade him to bring them safely home at sunset. So, Peronnik now found himself a proper cowherd; running from the black to the white and from the white to the red, in order to keep them from straying.

Whilst he was thus running from side to side, he suddenly heard the sound of horse’s hoofs and saw on one of the tracks, the giant Rogear seated on his mare, followed by a colt. From his neck, hung the golden bowl and in his hand the diamond lance, which shone like flame. Peronnik, terrified, hid himself behind a bush; the giant passed close by and went on his way but as soon as he was gone, Peronnik re-emerged and despite looking all around him, could not tell which direction the sorcerer had taken.

Well-armed and expensively mounted knights continued to pass the farm; a seemingly unceasing passage of adventurers in quest of the castle of Kerglas. None of whom was ever seen to return. Meanwhile, the giant continued his regular forays out of the forest. Peronnik, who had at length grown bolder, no longer thought of concealing himself when he passed by but stared after him enviously for as long as he was in sight; every passing day saw the desire to possess the golden bowl and the diamond lance grow stronger in his heart. Sadly, such things are more easily desired than obtained.

One day, when Peronnik was alone minding the cattle, he noticed an elderly man with long, unkempt hair and a flowing white beard had paused at the entrance of the track through the forest. Taking him to be some fresh adventurer, he asked the stranger whether he sought the castle of Kerglas. “I seek it not, since I already know it well,” replied the old man.

“What? You have been there and the evil one let you live?” exclaimed Peronnik.

Shamok the sorcerer
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“Certainly! In any event, he has nothing to fear from me,” replied the stranger. “I am Shamok the sorcerer and am Rogear’s elder brother. When I wish to visit I come here because, despite my, not inconsiderable, powers, I cannot cross the vastness of the enchanted wood without losing my way. I must therefore call his black colt to carry me.”

With these words, he used the tip of his elderberry staff to trace a pattern that resembled three overlapping circles into the dirt before him while murmuring an incantation such as demons teach to sorcerers in a voice that was barely audible. Suddenly, he snapped his head into the east wind and cried aloud: “Colt, unbroken, wild and free; I am here; Come, come and get me.” Within minutes, the black horse galloped into view and stopped, head-bowed, before Shamok. The sorcerer took out a leather halter from his canvas sack and having secured it, mounted the beast and allowed it to return home.

Not one word of this singular event did Peronnik reveal to anyone. Indeed, he had resolved to closely guard what he now knew; the first safe steps towards the castle of Kerglas lay in securing the colt that knew the way. Unfortunately, Peronnik knew neither how to trace the three circles, nor to pronounce the magic words needed to summon the colt. Some other means needed to be found to master the horse and, once it was captured, of gathering the apple, plucking the laughing flower, escaping the black man’s ball and of crossing the valley of delights.

Breton countryside
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Peronnik considered the problem for a long time before one day finally deciding that success was attainable. Those who are strong, confront danger head-on and too often perish because of it but the weak need to meet their challenges with subtlety. Having no hope of braving the giant, Peronnik resolved to employ cunning and guile. He was not afraid of the difficulties that lay ahead, did not his mother always say that medlars are hard as stone when picked but always yield with a little straw and much patience.

He therefore set about making all his preparations for the hour when the giant usually appeared at the entrance to the forest. He first made a halter from black hemp and a snare to capture woodcocks, the ends of which he dipped in holy water. He stitched together a square canvas bag which he filled with a pot of glue and lark’s feathers, rosary beads, a whistle that he had fashioned out of an elderberry twig and a piece of bread crust rubbed with rancid bacon. All these items, he stashed carefully into his large travelling sack. Finally, he crumbled the bread given to him for his lunch along the path usually followed by Rogear and his mare and colt.

As anticipated, all three duly appeared at the usual hour and crossed the pasture at their customary spot. However, to Peronnik’s delight, the colt started to sniff the ground and soon identified the crumbs of bread; stopping to tease up a few morsels, the beast was quickly beyond the giant’s sight. Cautiously, Peronnik crept towards the animal; once adjacent, he quickly threw his halter over the colt and jumped upon its back. After a firm nudge from the lad, the black horse, left free to follow its own course, promptly set off down one of the wildest paths into the forest.

Entrance to the Enchanted Forest
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Peronnik found himself trembling like a leaf; all the enchantments of the forest conspired to tease and terrify him. He could hear people whispering close behind him and all around were the sounds of a great beast moving through the undergrowth; above his head, the noise of some invisible bird flapping its wings in flight. One moment it seemed as if a bottomless chasm had opened-up before him; the next, all the trees appeared on fire and he found himself surrounded on all sides by walls of flames; sometimes when crossing a stream, it became a torrent and threatened to carry him away; at other times, whilst following a trail along the foot of a gentle hill, immense rocks seemed to break loose and roll towards him as if to crush him to dirt.

Terrible screams and the mad wailing of babies rent the air but all Peronnik could see were ghostly green lights moving erratically amidst the trees. Although he kept telling himself that these were the sorcerer’s deceptions, he felt his very marrow chill with fear. Finally, he decided to pull his hat down over his eyes so as not to see any more delusions and trust in the colt to lead him onwards.

In time, both thus arrived safely upon a featureless plain where all enchantments ceased and the colt’s pace markedly slowed. Peronnik pushed up his hat to survey a most barren landscape; as quiet as a grave and sadder than an unvisited cemetery. Traversing this drab, grey country, he was pained to note the plethora of rusted armour scattered about and the bleached bones of so many men who, like him, had come in quest of the castle of Kerglas. Horror and pity filled his heart when he recognised the colourful mantle worn by the foreign knight he had met just months ago; the proud knight’s broken body lay across a block of cut stone which seemed to serve as a table for the three grey wolves then gnawing at his leg bones.

At length, master and beast found themselves upon the soft grass of an enormous meadow; so broad that Peronnik could not even glimpse its boundaries. However, it was not the rich verdant expanse that captivated his eyes but the solitary apple tree that totally dominated the field; so laden with fruit that its branches hung low upon the ground. In front of the tree, standing sentinel was a korrigan, holding in his bony hand the sword of fire which reduced everything it touched to ashes.

Korrigan and the apple tree
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Sighting Peronnik, the korrigan uttered a cry that sounded like that of an angry sea crow and raised his sword menacingly but, without appearing to be surprised, the lad politely took off his hat. “Do not be alarmed, little prince”, he said, “I just want to pass-by to get to Kerglas, where Lord Rogear is expecting me.”

“Expecting you? You? By my mother’s beard, who are you then?” demanded the dwarf.

“Why, I am the new servant of our master, of course; the one he is waiting for!”

“I know nothing of it, nothing at all” replied the dwarf, “and you look like a liar and a cheat to me.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Peronnik, “but that is not my calling. I am a bird catcher and I can train them too. For Heaven’s sake, do not delay me long, for our master is relying on me; as you can see, he even lent me his colt so that I might arrive at the castle sooner.”

The korrigan had indeed noted that Peronnik was riding the sorcerer’s colt and began to think that he was perhaps telling the truth. The lad looked so innocent, that one could barely suspect him capable of such quick-witted artifice; yet the korrigan remained suspicious and asked what need had the sorcerer of a simple bird catcher. “The greatest need, it seems,” replied Peronnik, “for the master said that all that ripens in the garden of Kerglas is too quickly devoured by birds.”

Unconvinced, the korrigan scornfully asked: “So, what will you do to prevent them?” In response, Peronnik showed him the little trap that he had made and declared that no bird could escape it. “Then, that is what I will make sure of,” said the korrigan. “My apple tree is also ravaged by birds; set your trap and if you catch them, I shall let you pass.”

Peronnik accepted the challenge. Tying his horse to one of the tree’s branches, he fixed one end of his snare to the tree trunk and called the korrigan to hold the other end, while he prepared the skewers. The latter did as bade; immediately Peronnik pulled the noose tight and the korrigan found himself caught like a bird. He let out a savage cry of rage and tried to pull away but the laces, having been soaked in holy water, withstood all his efforts. Peronnik picked the brightest apple he could reach and remounted his horse, which continued on its way until the curses of the korrigan could no longer be heard.

Peronnik and the korrigan
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Having reached the end of the plain, the country again changed and our travellers found themselves in front of a wonderful grove composed of the most beautiful plants. There, amongst a carpet of celandine and daisy, were orchids, roses of all colours, myriad types of lush lilies, tall bird of paradise flowers, dahlias in vast congregations. Above all, rose the mysterious laughing flower around which prowled a lion with a mane of writhing vipers, grinding its great teeth like two millstones.

Young Peronnik stopped and bowed low, for he knew that in front of the powerful a hat is less useful on the head than in the hand. He wished the lion and all his kin the greatest measures of good health and prosperity and washed him in the silver words of utmost flattery before asking casually whether he was indeed on the road to the castle of Kerglas. Instantly alert, the lion raised his head of snakes high and demanded to know what business a simple man had at the castle.

Summoning his courage, Peronnik quietly explained that he was in the service of a lady, a friend of Lord Rogear, who had entrusted him to deliver a gift to the sorcerer; all that was needed to make the best lark pie in the land. “Larks!” repeated the lion, licking his moustache, “I have not tasted them in more than a century. How many do you carry?”

“As many as my sack can hold, sire, but I have also a little suet, some lard and the finest flour in Brittany. If it pleases you, I might perhaps be able to spare you a bite of good veal,” said Peronnik.

Medieval lion
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However, the lion would not be dissuaded from the songbirds: “I did not ask of all that you carried. I asked how many larks you carry. You must have at least a dozen larks for a fine pie but I strongly suspect that you are carrying two or three spare birds!”

“I have only what I carry in this bag, sire,” replied Peronnik, pointing to the canvas square that he had earlier filled with feathers and glue. He continued his deception by mimicking the twittering of the larks; a call that further aggravated the lion’s keen appetite.

“Let me see,” said the lion, drawing closer, “show me your birds for I must know if they are plump enough to grace our master’s table.” Peronnik reluctantly explained that this was impossible lest the birds fly away. The lion’s yearning for the little birds was not so easily dismissed: “Do not toy with me boy! Just open it a little. Open it for me now,” demanded the salivating beast.

This was just what Peronnik had hoped for; he proffered his bag to the lion, who eagerly stuck his head inside to seize the larks and found himself entangled in feathers and sticky glue. Struggling to avoid the darting snakes, Peronnik quickly tightened the drawstring of the bag around the lion’s neck and made the sign of the cross over the knot to make it indestructible. Roaring with rage, the lion bucked wildly but luckily Peronnik was able to avoid its throes and ran to the laughing flower. Having plucked this mysterious bloom and stored it in his sack, he set forth again with all speed.

Margyger
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He had not travelled for long when he encountered the lake of the dragons, which he could only traverse by swimming across its breadth. Peronnik had barely entered its murky black water before they came rushing at him from all sides to devour him. This time, he did not bother attempting appeasement but immediately began throwing the beads of his blessed rosary at the fast-approaching monsters, as he used to do when throwing grain to ducks. His aim was true; the curious dragons took the bait and with each bead swallowed, one of the dragons writhed furiously in the water before rolling over onto its back, dead; and so Peronnik eventually reached the other side of the lake unscathed.

If the words of the hermit of the Blavet were true, it now remained to cross the valley guarded by the black man and sure enough a sharply v-shaped valley soon loomed into view. As he neared the mouth of the valley, Peronnik espied its guardian at the entrance, holding in his hand an iron ball which, after having struck its goal, always magically returned.

However, what struck Peronnik most about the scene before him were the guard’s six eyes; set all around his head, constantly on the lookout. Realising that, if seen, he would likely be struck dead by the iron ball before he could speak, he decided to crawl along the thicket behind the sentry who had now sat down and closed two of his eyes in rest. Judging that he might be sleepy, Peronnik started to softly sing the beginning of high Mass in a low voice. Startled, the guardian raised his head in surprise but Peronnik’s dulcet tones quickly lulled him and a third eye closed. Thus encouraged, Peronnik went on to intone the Kyrie eleison and was rewarded with the closure of a fourth eye and half the fifth, so, he began Vespers but before he had reached the Magnificat, the guardian of the valley was sound asleep.

Having quickly gathered his horse, Peronnik led it quietly through the valley and onwards into the Vale of Delights; perhaps the most difficult proceeding of all because it was now not a question of avoiding danger but of evading temptation. Fearing his resolve, Peronnik called upon all the saints of Brittany to give him the strength to resist all lures.

Peronnik's quest
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The valley he now crossed was like a garden richly stocked with exotic fruits, beautiful flowers and clear fountains. However, these fountains flowed with sweet wines and liquors, the pretty flowers sang with voices as sweet as the cherubs of Paradise and the luscious fruits willingly offered themselves to Peronnik’s touch. Each deviation in the pathway was marked with massive oak tables, groaning under the weight of sumptuous feasts fit for a king. His senses were assailed by the smells drifting from the stone ovens built aside the road: fresh balls of bread, big enough for two families, and salted meats; he could even detect the distinctive aroma of his favourite delicacy, chotten (roasted pig’s head). Rushing servants seemed everywhere, setting down large platters of food and motioning him to sit. While a little further off, beautiful ladies emerged from their bathing and danced on the grass; calling him by name, they invited him to join their frolics.

It was seemingly in vain that Peronnik furiously made the sign of the cross while uttering his prayers; unconsciously, he had slowed the colt’s pace and he had involuntarily raised his nose to the wind to better catch the delicious odours of the smoking meats. To gaze attentively upon the sensuous bathers, he might have succumbed and stopped altogether, had not the memory of the treasures he sought suddenly burst into his mind. He caught himself and immediately began to blow his whistle so as not to hear the sweet voices calling him, he chewed his bread rubbed with rancid bacon so as to take his mind away from the sweet smell of the food around him and fixed his stare firmly on his horse’s ears to avoid any sight of the dancers’ charms.

Vale of Delights
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In this way, he reached the border of the garden without misfortune and after travelling across open country for a spell, he finally caught sight of the castle of Kerglas in the distance. Unfortunately, Peronnik was still separated from his goal by the raging river which could only be forded in one spot. Fortunately, the horse knew where to safely cross the river and cantered to the right place. Having established the exact location of the ford, Peronnik began searching for the lady who would be his guide. He found her sitting alone on a rock some distance from the river, she was clad from head to toe in black satin; a colour that accentuated the striking yellow hue of her face.

Once again, Peronnik pulled off his hat and after a brief bow, asked her if she did not want to cross the river. “I have been waiting here for you for that very purpose,” she replied, “come closer so that I might seat myself behind you.” Now bearing the weight of two riders, the young colt entered the water and was half-way across when the lady asked Peronnik whether he knew her. The question surprised him for he was certain that he had never seen this woman before in his life: “I beg your pardon milady,” replied Peronnik, “but from your dress I can see that you are a noble and powerful person.”

“Noble, I must be,” the mysterious lady responded, “because my origin dates from the first sin and as powerful am I, for all the nations of the world yield before me.”

“Then, if it please you milday, pray tell me your name,” asked Peronnik.

Plague Witch
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“They call me the Plague,” replied the yellow woman, whereupon Peronnik sprang up as if to escape into the water but the lady touched his shoulder and said to him: “Be calm, poor innocent, you have nothing to fear from me; on the contrary, I can serve you.”

“Is it possible that you can show such kindness, Madame Plague?” said Peronnik, this time pulling his hat off for good, before quickly adding: “I believe that it is you who must teach me how I can get rid of the sorcerer Rogear.”

“The magician must die?” asked the Plague.

“I think I should like nothing better,” replied Peronnik, “but he is immortal.”

“Listen closely,” said the Plague. “The apple tree protected by the korrigan is a cutting from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, planted in Paradise by God Himself. Its fruit, like that eaten by Adam and Eve, renders immortals vulnerable to death. So, try to get the magician to taste the apple and from that moment I need only touch him to bring him to death.”

“I will try,” said Peronnik, “but if I succeed, how will I be able to gain the gold bowl and the diamond lance? They are locked in a deep cave that is well secured and that no forged key can open.”

“Fear not, the laughing flower will open all doors,” replied the Plague, “and lights up the darkest of nights.”

Castle of Kerglas
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Having entered through the castle’s eastern gate, the colt headed to the left and stopped before a monumental arched entrance, above which hung a large canopy marked in stripes of black and white. Beneath this cloth and sheltered from the sun, sat the giant sorcerer, contentedly smoking his gold pipe. On seeing his colt, on which Peronnik and the lady in black sat, he cried out in a voice that resounded like thunder: “By my master, Beelzebub, this fool dares ride my colt!”

“I am he, the very same, Lord Rogear, greatest of all magicians,” replied Peronnik.

“Tell me, how did you manage to take him?” asked the sorcerer.

“I simply repeated what your brother Shamok taught me,” said Peronnik, “and the little horse came at once.”

“Then you know my brother?” asked the sorcerer. Peronnik’s response was deliberately vague but seemed to satisfy the sorcerer who asked on what errand his brother had sent him hither.

“To bring you a present of two curiosities that he has received from the land of the Moors: this apple of delight and the woman of submission that you see there. If you eat the first, your heart will always be as happy as the pauper who has found a purse containing a hundred crowns in his shoe; and if you take the second into your service, you will have nothing left to desire in the world.”

“Then give me the apple and bring me the woman,” replied the sorcerer. Peronnik obeyed but the instant the giant bit into the fruit, the lady in black laid her hand upon him and he immediately fell to the ground like a slaughtered ox.

Peronnik lost no time entering the castle and rushed through the vaulted entrance hall, clutching the laughing flower in his hand. He raced through some fifty chambers before finally arriving at the silver door which marked the entrance to the sorcerer’s underground chambers. This great door swung open before the power of the flower which then lit up and allowed Peronnik sufficient light to successfully locate the gold bowl and diamond lance.

Storm over Kerglas
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No sooner had he regained the fresh air than the earth trembled terribly beneath his feet, quickly followed by a dreadful rolling thunder which was punctuated with sharp thunder claps and a cacophony of simultaneous sheet and forked lightning; one powerful burst of which was so brilliant that Peronnik momentarily lost his sight. Once recovered, he saw that the castle had disappeared entirely and that he now found himself alone in the middle of a forest.

Relieved to have found himself still in possession of the two magical talismans, Peronnik set forth to find the edge of the forest, with the ultimate intention of securing an audience with the King of Brittany. Travelling southwards, he reached the city of Gwened where he stopped to buy the best clothes he could find and the finest horse in the diocese.

Arriving finally in the king’s capital of Naoned, he found the city once again besieged by the Franks, who had so mercilessly ravaged the surrounding country that there were only trees left for a goat to graze upon. Moreover, the siege had created a famine within the city’s walls and those who did not die defending their land, died for want of bread. On the very day of Peronnik’s arrival, trumpeters proclaimed at every crossroads that the King of Brittany would adopt as his heir, anyone who could deliver the city and drive the French from the country. Hearing this, Peronnik said to one trumpeter: “Make no more announcements but lead me to the King, for I can do all that he asks.”

Siege of Nantes
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“You?” said the herald incredulously, seeing him so young and small: “Go on your way, little bird! The King has no time to be wasted.” In response, Peronnik touched the man with his lance and caused him to instantly fall down dead, to the great terror of all the crowd who looked on and who would have fled had he not cried: “You have witnessed what I can do against my enemies, now see the power of my friendship.” So saying, he brought his golden bowl to the dead man’s lips who was immediately restored to life.

On being informed of this miracle, the King gave Peronnik command of the city’s garrison. Armed with his diamond lance he set about the besieging forces, slaying thousands of the invaders and with his golden bowl, he returned to life the many Bretons who had been slain. Thanks to Peronnik’s efforts, the invaders were totally routed in a matter of days and their camps razed.

In tribute to his King, he then proposed to conquer all the neighbouring countries such as Anjou, Poitou, and Normandy, which cost him but little trouble. When all these lands had submitted to the King of Brittany, Peronnik declared his intention of setting out to deliver the Holy Land and subsequently embarked from Naoned at the head of a magnificent fleet which boasted the first flowers of the nobility of the land.

On reaching the Holy Land, he performed many personal feats of valour and destroyed all the armies that were sent against him. Finally, an honourable and just peace was agreed across the land and to seal it, Peronnik married the daughter of the King of the Saracens by whom he had a hundred children, to each of whom he granted a fine kingdom. Some say that, thanks to the powers of the golden bowl, he and his sons still live but others assure that Rogear’s brother, the sorcerer Shamok, succeeded in regaining possession of the talismans and that those who wish for them have only to search for them. However, gaining them might be a more difficult undertaking!

Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

171 thoughts on “The Fool’s Quest

  1. Collin, this was one of your finest writings I have come across so far. It was fun to read and very exciting to get to the end as I was really anxious for Perronik. It was like reading a well written story book. You must make a book out of this one, Collin. Such an enchanting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks! I am glad that you liked it! 🙂
      Well, the irony comes in with the realisation that a fool has completed a quest that the best knights in the land failed. Peronnik is, according to the language of the time, an idiot or simple-minded man. Such folk were once thought in Brittany to have been touched by God and, whether they were capable or not, not expected to earn their keep.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Peronnik could better be described as an “everyman” rather than a “fool.”. Although not as strong as a Knight, or as cunning as a wizard, he seemed to come up with some ingenious solutions to attain his goal. I’ll leave it here, because it’s starting to feel like the beginning of an essay for a Literature class! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Fool is definitely still an archetype used in literature. Unfortunately it’s not one I paid enough attention to, so I’m not sure whether they’re all like Peronnik, or if he’s exceptional in some way (he does seem clever to me, though). Or, as you said, it could have been an inside joke of the storyteller(s). If I were still in University, I think I would write an essay about this story– there’s a lot to explore 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great tale, thank you and I love your choice of illustrations that perfectly help to tell this story. I do wonder how the daughter of the Saracens managed to have so many children unless our hero Peronnik married more than one wife? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much!! I am happy that you enjoyed the read and liked the paintings too 🙂
      Ha, yes, that’s a crazy amount isn’t it? It’s a wonder she made it – what with at least 10-20% of childbirths proving fatal to the mother and spending, at best, 38 years in labour! 😉

      Like

    1. Thank you so very much!! I am happy that you enjoyed the read! I have another but its a little longer and am deciding whether to edit like crazy or spin it over two posts 😉

      Like

  4. The laughing flower! What wonderful stories of magic, magicians and witches Brittany has. Thank you again for
    their telling. Much appreciated.
    Gwen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha ha, what a great read, really enjoyed this one. Got a serious Eddie Haskellesque vibe from the fool, in the beginning of the quest , his being so…. very complimentary about all the food stuffs and vying for good favor, what a player……. he is!

    Liked by 1 person

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