In which Tor makes new friends
Right and so we turn back the clock to just as Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor, and King Pellinore set out. Tor was sent after the white hunting dog, the brachet.
Before he’d gone very far, he nearly ran over Peter, who was for whatever reason standing the road with a club. (Malory doesn’t specify that this was the same guy with dwarfism as Peter from Book II, Chapter VII, but I choose to believe all the guys in Le Morte D’Arthur who have dwarfism are the same guy). Peter walloped Sir Tor’s horse with the club as he rode by, knocking down the horse and Tor both.
“What the hell?” demanded Tor, as he got back up.
“Yeah, okay. There’s a joust over there.” Peter pointed to some pavilions set back from the road.
“I don’t get it.” Tor shot Peter an ugly look as he helped his horse back up and remounted.
“Sorry, I’ll explain again. I hit you with a club because there’s a joust over there.” Seeing Tor’s incomprehension, Peter elaborated further. “The knights at the joust are looking for opponents, and I told them I’d waylay any knights who came by and get them to joust.”
“Hmm, I do love a good joust,” said Tor. “But no, I’m on a quest, so, that’s happening. I can’t really take a joust break…”
“This isn’t optional.” Peter hefted a warhorn menacingly. “You want I should blow this?”
“Why, what happens if you blow your horn?”
Peter blew his horn, and a knight rode over from the pavilions, all dressed for jousting. Without preamble, he started trying to dehorse Tor. They jousted a bit, Tor won.
“Okay, fair enough, good joust,” the knight said afterwards. “You should joust my partner, though.”
“Your partner?” asked Tor, and maybe would have asked more except that the other knight, the first one’s partner, had ridden up behind and engaged in a dishonorable backstab-joust! Or at least, he tried to; Tor was too quick for him. They jousted some, until Tor wounded the other knight, and he surrendered.
“Great,” said Peter.
“Are we done here?” asked the knights. “You beat us, which is all we wanted.”
“Yeah, no,” said Tor. “You guys are basically bandits, I can’t help but notice. I want you to head back to Camelot and surrender.”
“Okay,” said the knights. “When we get there who should we say sent us?”
“Don’t say Sir Tor,” said Tor. “No, no, say the knight who went hunting the knight who had the white hound. They’ll know what that means.”
The knights, whose names were Sir Felot of Langduk and Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, which are terrible knight names, two of the worst so far, shrugged.
Peter cleared his throat. “Listen, I don’t want to work for these two any more, and I can’t go back to Camelot after what happened without some kind of triumph, so, Tor, can I come with you?”
“Sure thing. No reason not to.”
“Cool,” said Peter. “I deduced from what you said to those to bozos that you’re after the knight with the white hound? I know where he is; he came by here before. In retrospect I guess I should have clubbed him, but I didn’t for some reason.”
“No worries!” cried Tor. “This quest has been super easy so far. Lead on!”
So the two knights departed for Camelot and Tor and Peter rode off (Peter confiscated Felot’s horse). Little side note: Malory never mentions Felot again, but Petipase would eventually join the Round Table.
Peter led Tor through the woods to a nice little spot next to a convent, with a couple of big tents set up. One tent had a white shield, and the other a red one. Peter signaled for them to dismount, which they did. Sir Tor put his finger to his lips, and Peter nodded. Tor handed Peter a glaive and silently indicated Peter should guard the horses.
Sir Tor sneaked up on the tents, all stealthy-like. He peeked into one with the white shield. Inside it appeared that three maidens had been lingerie/pillow-fighting, until they got all tuckered out and collapsed in a heap together on the bed. Tor considered taking some time to leer, but decided against it; he was on a quest, after all. Then Tor sneaked over to the tent with a red shield and peeked in that one. Within he saw a lady sleeping, curled up with the white hound.
That white hound wasn’t asleep, and she started barking as soon as she saw Tor! He reacted quickly: Tor dashed in, grabbed the dog, then dashed back towards the horses, quick like a bunny. The lady and her maidens woke up in the commotion, and came running after him. Poor Peter wasn’t about to swipe at them with a glaive since they were ladies, but they weren’t combatants, either; Sir Tor and Peter mounted back up, and all the ladies could do was mount strenuous objections.
“Why are you taking my dog?” demanded the lady.
“I’m on a quest to find the dog, and also the knight who came with it. You haven’t seen him, have you? He was a guy, in armor?”
“I wouldn’t tell you if I had, jerk. I can’t stop you from stealing my new dog, but I can tell you it won’t go well for you.”
“Whatever,” said Tor. “This quest has a cakewalk up to this point. I got Peter here, a dwarf squire of my own. Also I peeked at four hot ladies while they slept! And now I have the dog! No comeuppance for me!”
He and Peter rode off.
“We should head back to Camelot and drop this dog off,” said Tor. Maybe he said that because the dog was yapping and biting him, I dunno. “It’s too late to make it back there tonight, though. Do you know of a place to stay, Peter?”
“I don’t, sorry,” said Peter. “Well, except for that hermitage.” He pointed to a convenient hermitage that they happened to be riding past at that exact moment, purely by chance.
“I guess that counts,” said Tor.
Peter and Tor barged into the hermitage and took advantage of the hermit’s hospitality, meager though it is. In the morning they were most of the way back to Camelot when they heard shouting behind them.
“You! Hey, you! Come back here! You stole my girlfriend’s dog!”
Tor and Peter stopped and wheeled around and, sure enough, there was the knight they were looking for. His name, Malory tells us, was Sir Abellus.
“I don’t remember him being so tall, so heavily-armored, or so well-armed,” said Tor.
“That looks like a glaive kind of problem,” said Peter, hefting the glaive Tor gave him. “Here, take your glaive back and I’ll watch the horses while you handle it.”
What with one thing and another, Tor and Abellus jousted. It took quite a while; eventually they were both pretty badly beaten, though not quite at die-from-your-wounds levels like Balin and Balan. Tor eventually got the upper hand, and asked for Abellus’s surrender during a thirty-second timeout.
“No,” panted Abellus. “You stole my girlfriend’s dog, I’ve got to get it back or else die in the attempt.”
“Guy, it’s just a dog,” said Tor. “I don’t want to have to kill you over a dog. I’ve never killed anybody.”
“You don’t have to kill me,” pointed out Abellus.
“I kinda do,” said Tor. “My quest is to bring you and this dog back to Camelot. Preferably both alive, but if I have to kill you, that’s life.”
He might have said more, but he was interrupted by shouting. “Tor! Tor!” A woman on a horse came riding up.
“Oh, damn,” muttered Abellus. “Janice.”
“What?” asked Tor, still poised with his sword, trying to get Abellus to surrender.
“Sir Tor!” The woman, Janice, came to a stop right in the middle of the jousting arena. “Sir Tor!”
“What? What is it? Also, how do you know my name?”
Janice did not answer that one. “I beseech you! I beg a favor! For love of King Arthur, I beg you!”
“And I say again, what? What is it?”
“Oh, thank you. This scum,” she said, pointing at Abellus, “murdered my brother and stole my virtue, and I demand his head!”
“His head? Really?” Tor was chagrined. “I don’t want to kill anybody. Can’t you settle your dispute peacefully?”
“No!” cried Janice. “He slew my brother, right in front of me. My brother was a better knight, and this scum ambushed and betrayed him, after they went on multiple strange adventures together! When my brother lay there, crippled, I begged for his life. And this scum had the temerity to demand oral sex favors from me!” Janice shot Abellus a look. “Which I very reluctantly did! And then after he’d had his fun he decapitated my poor brother anyway!”
“Oh my God.” Tor was mortified. “Is this true?” he demanded of Abellus.
“No! Not a word.” Abellus resented Tor for even asking him that. “Well, technically all the facts are as she lays them out, but…”
“I demand vengeance!” cried the lady. “If you do not grant it to me I shall be forced to go to Camelot and disclaim you in front of Arthur and his knights. I don’t want to, but if you won’t kill this murderous rapist I don’t think I have a choice.”
“Well, he’s clearly monstrous, but I don’t want to just kill him,” began Tor. Just then Abellus decided to make a break for it! Tor’s sword was in his hand already, and… basically by reflex SHOOMPT Abellus’s head flew one way as his body slumped another.
“See? That right there, that’s what I wanted to prevent,” said Tor.
Malory’s phrase for it, by the way, is “and I kneeled half an hour afore him in the mire for to save my brother’s life,” which I suppose might be taken to mean she pleaded with him on her knees, but in context I don’t think I’m overly reaching to interpret as I do.
Janice and Tor and Peter ended up returning to Janice’s house, where her husband offered them dinner. Janice’s husband was a pleasant older gentleman who had no knowledge of Janice’s sordid story and absolutely no one told him about it. In the morning Peter and Tor headed back to Camelot, but not before Janice told him that he would always be welcome in her neck of the woods, and she thanked him again for killing Abellus.
Tor made it back to Camelot, and everyone was pleased to see him. They congratulated him on seizing the dog and killing the knight whose dog it was. He was given a new horse and a new suit of armor, Arthur and Guenever were charmed by the tale of his adventure, and Merlin announced that Tor was a good egg who would do many great things, which prompted Arthur to promote Tor from knight to earl.
So I’m guessing Gawaine felt pretty bad about it in comparison.
Thus ends the tale of Tor! Next, the tale of Pellinore!
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