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Roncevaux Pass October 6, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Writing.

I know I haven’t posted lately but I thought I would post another excerpt from my novel, which is a partial explanation of my absence of late.

This is a dream-like sequence of the death of a medieval legend called Roland. The events are real or mostly real, as I said it is legend. Basically Roland was Charlemagne’s right hand man and somewhat of a pop culture icon in medieval Europe, everyone knew who Roland was. His story figures rather prominently in my work, tentatively titled The Arca Malum.

First let me give you some background on some of the characters in the book that are mentioned in this excerpt.

Carolus Magnus (Charles, Charlemagne): the spirit of the first Holy Roman Emperor. In the story he was bequeathed with the Arca Malum, a box containing a spirit energy that can undo creation, by God. God wanted him to destroy it. Magnus didn’t, he kept it until his death when his biographer buried it in France.

Einhard: Einhard is a German colonel. However, he is also the reincarnation of Carolus’ biographer. He is helping Charlemagne reacquire the Arca.

Luitgard: She was the fifth and favorite wife of Charlemagne. In the story she was a German nurse at Pasewalk Hospital in Berlin.

The Prisoner (Hank Janokowski): The main character. He discovered the Arca when it was uncovered during a battle in France during WWI. He ends up a prisoner of the colonel, Einhard and in the hands of Charlemagne, along with the Arca.

Roncevaux Pass

The clock inched past 2 a.m. on the wall of the home in Berlin. No one stirred, only Carolus. In rooms above his head Luitgard, Einhard and the prisoner slept. He was in the library turning the Arca over in his hands again and again. The only light came from a black candle in the center of the desk. The once-great Emperor would soon have to take a physical form, probably the prisoner’s. To this point he thought it much safer to stay in the realm of the spirits, his presence was too easy to detect. Hours ago, he had sent the demon to deal with the others connected to the prisoner and thus to the Arca. It would be only a matter of time. The Arca’s power grew with each passing moment, with each soul that lie ravaged in its wake. The small, black vessel could turn the tide of battles, indeed, turn the tide of entire wars. Its power could alter the course of history. This time would be no exception.

Eventually, it would be only him, the Arca and the Polish kid from America, and eventually only he and the Arca. Carolus drifted through thoughts, further and further back in time. A dark time in Europe and only he had emerged to lead the children of God into the light, away from the dangerous evils in the barbarian ways of magic and pagan bloodletting. Carolus longed for those times again, the glory of battle, the thrills and spoils of victory. The power he once held. That was another time, in another place. Where heroes walked in his shadow and obeyed his every whim, his every command. Before God had abandoned him, before the Holy See had saw to it that he never walk in the grace of Him again. And for that, Carolus would have his revenge.

To him, the demon was no matter, only a tool, to be used, and to be dealt with however and whenever he saw fit. For him to regain his power no connections could remain, they would only serve to weaken him and the power of the awful darkness contained within the Arca.

Candlelight still flickered from the walls of the cavernous library and Carolus felt a stillness overcome him. His mind left the realm of the mortals and traveled further back in time as he let the memories escape into reality the past began to materialize before him.

Roncevaux Pass.

Mountains rose all around them, the forest thick and nearly impassable save for the pass they had lucked upon by the grace of God. The Saxon War had proved difficult indeed but with God and the army’s will they overcame, they were victorious. All of Saxony now worshipped His grace and glory. No longer were they consumed by the primitive and sinful ways of their Pagan gods. The Saxons were part of Charlemagne’s Frankish kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The many battles had taken Carolus and Roland and the others throughout the Germanic tribal lands, where darkness consumed all but the most devout. For Charlemagne and his men the darkness proved a disproportionate power. They stormed across Saxony, subjugating the Engrians and destroying their sacred symbols along the way. Even their so-called, powerful pillar, Iriminsul could not save them from their own excesses in evil and sin. The Saxon war god was no match in the face of Him and his power.

To the Lombards and on, to Westphalia, they bravely fought the forces of darkness, in the name of God. The blood that poured over the land at Verden, glory be His name. Even Widukind himself eventually conceded and swore faith to Him. It was then that the campaign’s end was truly in sight. When victory for the Kingdom of God was within grasp. And Carolus believed it then. His only motivation, to glorify God. And in turn Carolus knew He would grant him the power to save Europe from its sin and evil, to displace the paganism of old and usher in a new era of peace on Earth and glory to God.

Then came Roncevaux Pass. The treachery of the Basque was great that day and the Kingdom of God suffered the most insufferable of defeats. The lush, greenery back dropped their victory march through the Pyrenees, tough mountain country to be sure. Dark places in dark times, but the Army of God could pass through unabated, untouched, spreading their glory through the blade. The hilt of Durendal, the blade of Joyeuse. With these weapons of God wielded at their helm they were wholly invincible. Or so they thought.
An August wind blew through the forest as they marched, forced into a long and winding convoy by the terrain, Charlemagne at the helm and Roland’s army bringing up the rear.

“Passes the day, the darkness is grown deep, And now that King in ‘s vaulted chamber sleeps.”

Sleep no more. The time is near. Carolus told himself as he journeyed into the solemn and dark past.

Their march had continued, the treachery near, always. Evil permeated the land around them. A Moorish scar across the highlands of Iberia.

By the time Carolus heard the sound of Olifant, it was already too late. Roland knew that anyway. His army had rushed to the mountain pass to aid their ambushed companions, too late, too late, too late. He rushed to his fallen friend’s side. Roland’s body sat upright at the base of a tree, Durendal and Olifant in hand, his lifeless eyes staring out over the Pyrenees.

Hovering over the body, Charlemagne stood and looked to the heavens asking God why he had been forsaken. Overcome with grief the only thought had been of revenge. He had no way of knowing that the revenge he sought would cause him thirst throughout eternity. No idea that in seeking that revenge he would succumb to the darkness he had fought so hard to destroy.

“It is such a quiet thing, to fall.”

He remembered seeking out the Saracens and finally catching up to them at the fields outside of Sarragossa.

The Moorish king, beleaguered by injuries inflicted by Roland, passed his authority onto Baligant who had arrived from Asia Minor to reinforce his brethren. Fueled by fury and hatred the Army of God had swarmed into Sarragossa and Charles had faced Baligant, destroying him with Joyeuse but failing to appease his lust for revenge. He reached out to God. But found no answer. Only emptiness. God had abandoned him.

Upon his return he had looked at the Arca, the tool God had given him long before to destroy but which he had failed to. His lust for power had driven him and power he had gained, but at what cost? Charlemagne always knew God had left him for his inability to overcome the sin of humans, his greed for power and lust for revenge but he always blamed Roland’s death upon God. Deep inside he knew it was his fault but a millennium of wandering in the darkest realms of the spirit world had demolished any chance he ever had of accepting that fact.


Carolus opened his eyes. The library was dark, the candle long since burnt to a wax puddle. No sounds, morning neared but for Carolus time never really passed, just moments. Above him, he still sensed nothing, only his sleeping companions. His dream felt as real as dreams get. He hadn’t remembered dreaming in hundreds of years, he didn’t even think he slept. But that was definitely a dream, he could still taste it. It tickled his brain but was just far enough out of reach to be imaginary.

He thought of Roland. The years had dulled the pain like it had dulled the lust for revenge but could never end his urge for more power. To possess the Arca once again. To hold in his hands the ultimate power, all the power of a millennia. Once he again held the Arca nothing could stop him and his new empire. The war was already being fought. Consolidation was near. The technological wonders that the 20th Century had spawned would only increase his grasp on Europe and then the world.



1. yinn - October 12, 2006

You rock.

2. Idetrorce - December 15, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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