Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Miramon Lluagor

MIRAMON LLUAGOR: In James Branch Cabell's extensive work The Biography of Manuel, Miramon Lluagor is one of the Leshy (in Russian folklore a type of forest spirit, but in the context of the Biography one of the powers, "neither human nor immortal", in the pantheon of Poictesme, Cabell's imaginary French province. He is "lord of the nine kinds of sleep and prince of the seven madnesses. He lives in mythic splendor at the top of the gray mountain called Vraidex, where he contrives all manner of illusions, and, in particular, designs the dreams of men." He has a "rather arbitrary half-brother," Grandfather Death, "a dreadful realist" compared to the ornate artistry of Miramon's dreams, and lord of the tenth kind of sleeping.

In about 1230, Miramon Lluagor inadvertently started the pig herder Manuel on his road to becoming Count of Poictesme when the magician stole away Gisele, the daughter of Count Demetrios D'Arnaye, and took her to his Doubtful Palace to be his wife. There he found that although Gisele was a beautiful and charming girl of just the type that he had always fancied for a wife, she had "a strong will in her white bosom, and a tireless tongue in her glittering head," and that he did not "equally admire all four of these possessions." Since it is the law of the Leshy that they cannot relinquish their prey unless they have been conquered, and since he cannot be vanquished except by the resistless magical sword Flamberge, Miramon visits Manuel incognito, giving him the enchanted blade and the idea to rescue the girl and become a hero.

Manuel journeys to the Doubtful Palace, overcoming the dangerous dream-designs that guard the way with the help of the plain Niafer, Gisele's maid-servant. There he discovers that the mild-mannered, snub-nosed stranger who gave him the sword is Miramon, the dreadful magician. Gisele enters, and she, who has grown to love her husband, decides not to upset the status quo, and finding that Manuel has fallen in love with Niafer, trades him her servant-girl for Flamberge. Miramon, who in contemplating Manuel's choice of a plain, swart, and not very clever girl, realizes that he really has a superior wife, and finds how much he truly has come to love her. He throws the couple a magnificent betrothal pageant of fantasies and illusions, and sends them on their way.

Several years later it is Miramon who, hearing of Manuel's plight, comes to his aid, brokering his deal with the demiurge Horvendile and revealing to Manuel his destiny as Redeemer of Poictesme. The magician revives ten mighty but forgotten deities out of the dust heap of his old designs, and sends them against the Northmen who are ravishing Poictesme, destroying in a single night what Manuel's troops have failed to eliminate with years of fighting. Thereafter Miramon serves Manuel as Seneschal of Gontaron and as a member of the Fellowship of the Silver Stallion, and it was he who defeated the draug Thragnar and put upon him a detection and a hindrance.

When Manuel vanishes out of Poictesme, Miramon returns to the Doubtful Palace upon the back of a tame and elderly dragon, there to live in "the sedate seclusion appropriate to a veteran artist." He is accompanied by Gisele and his son Demetrios who, according to the Norns who weave the inexorable fates of the Leshy, is doomed to kill his father with Flamberge. Miramon is determined to spend what time remains to him by creating more of his dream designs, using colors such as "his white, which was the foam of the ocean made solid, and the black he had wrung from the burned bones of nine emperors...the yellow slime of Scyros, and crimson cinnabaris composed of the mingled blood of mastodons and dragons, and....the poisonous blue sand of Puteoli." Gisele, who is annoyed about leaving court life, is unsatisfied with Miramon's pursuit of art, and not slow in showing it, nor is she happy with Demetrios' and Miramon's fate.

Evasion of this fate seems possible when Miramon's friend Ninzian brings him the Bees of Toupan, which have the power to grant three wishes if one can release them. If Miramon can figure out how to do so, he can simply wish Flamberge away and thus become virtually immortal. Gisele, in dusting her husband's studio, accidentally discovers how to free the Bees, and inadvertent wishes are made that almost destroy the universe. Miramon must use the third wish to restore things to the way they were, and loses his chance for immortality.

In due course Demetrios kills Miramon, a deed of which he occasionally boasts to impress people; whether Miramon put up a fight at the end, or if he accepted it philosophically as was his wont, is unknown. But even that might not have been the absolute end of the magician. Years before when Manuel was in position to destroy him, there was this following exchange:

"I have but to sever the wicked head of this doomed magician from his foul body, and that will be the end of him--"

"No, no," says Miramon, soothingly, "I shall merely be turned into something else, which perhaps we had better not discuss. But it will not inconvenience me in the least, so do you not hold back out of mistaken kindness to me, but instead do you smite..."

So it is possible that somewhere, in some form, Miramon Lluagor is still weaving dreams and designing fantasies to vex the minds of men and disturb their sleep, and pursues the art of which he was a supreme master.

1 comment:

John said...

Interesting...Nicely mythic. I wonder if a film has ever been pondered?