Sir Andred, Tristram’s cousin, resented Tristram for being so awesome. Or maybe he had been keeping track of all the times Tristram had been a jerk. Either way, he took it upon himself to spy on Tristram and the lovely Isoud, and gather evidence that they were secretly in love. Since they were secretly in love, this didn’t take him long.
Natch, Andred went straight to Mark; Mark went for the sword.
Mark confronted Tristram about his not-very-secret love for the lovely Isoud, whom you might recall was married to King Mark. Swords were drawn, then waved around! Harsh words were exchanged! Finally Tristram tired of humoring his uncle; he snatched Mark’s sword away from him, and spun it around and made like to poke Mark with it.
“Guards! Guards! Save me from my nephew!” squealed Mark. His own guards were disgusted by his display of unknightly behavior. Instead of rescuing him, they just shook their heads sadly.
Tristram, emboldened, growled at Mark and leaped at him. Soon he was chasing Mark around Castle Tintagil poking him in the back with the sword, and slapping the flat of it against him. Eventually Mark slipped and fell, and probably started crying. I’m starting to envision Mark as some unlikable Chris Kattan character. Then Tristram, horrible jerk that he was, kicked sand in Mark’s face or something.
Afterwards Tristram decided he’d had enough of Castle Tintagil for a while. He rode off into the woods to sulk. A couple of Mark’s knights try to stop him, but one of them got his head chopped off for his troubles, and the other only lived long enough to carry the severed head back to Mark before dying of Tristram-inflicted wounds.
“Okay, council meeting time,” said Mark, and pulled out his royal whiteboard. “TRISTRAM,” he said, and writes it on the whiteboard in red. “Ideas? He’s gone rogue, people. Any ideas?”
Mark’s only worthwhile advisor, his seneschal Sir Dinas, scowled. “Boss, listen, we’re going to need a bigger army if we’re going to take on Sir Tristram. You don’t seem to want to accept the fact you’re dealing with an expert in guerrilla warfare, with a man who’s the best, with swords, with lances, with his bare hands. A man who’s been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a billy goat puke. In Ireland his job was to dispose of enemy personnel. To kill! Period! Win by attrition. Well, Tristram was the best.”
Mark was unconvinced. “Are you telling me that two hundred of our men against Meliodas’s boy is a no-win situation for us?”
“You send that many, don’t forget one thing.”
“A good supply of body bags,” Dinas growled. Rambo: First Blood, ladies and gentlemen.
“All right, fine. Do we know where he’s headed?” asked Mark.
“My guess is Camelot. He’ll hook up with Launcelot (the best knight, God he’s so great) and make other friends. Then they’ll come back here, and it’ll be game over for King Mark of Cornwall, chivalric oaths or no.”
“I need another option!” grunted Mark.
“There is… one other way,” Dinas said. “You’re not going to like it.”
“What is it?”
“You won’t like it.”
“Apologize to him and invite him back to court and hold a jousting tournament. No knight can resist a jousting tournament.”
“Damn! I know you’re right.”
So Mark apologized to Tristram. He held an apology jousting tournament (JOUSTING TOURNAMENT 20!) and everything was immediately hunky-dory again.
As part of his apology, Mark afterward took Tristram on a hunting trip: the two of them, the lovely Isoud, and thirty other knights. Out in the forest they set up tents; from their base camp they hunted all day and jousted all night. It’s the best time Malory can imagine anyone having.
Before this vacation ended, along came a couple more knights onto the scene: Sir Lamorak, from France, and his pal Sir Driant. Lamorak was King Pellinore’s son, but Malory doesn’t bring that up, any more than he explains why Lamorak and Driant happened to be wandering through the forests of Cornwall only to stumble upon Mark’s campsite.
Naturally, they joined in the jousting. While Driant lost badly to one of Mark’s knights, Lamorak walloped all comers. Mark and Tristram watched him win and win and win.
“Heavens,” said Mark. “That fellow is quite the jouster!”
“Yeah, I know that guy,” said Tristram. “I know him from France. He’s Sir Lamorak, from France. He’s an excellent jouster, good at venery. Good knight all around.”
“Let’s you and him joust,” said Mark. “Show him what we can do, up here in Cornwall. Otherwise he might think we’re just losers.”
“I dunno, sire,” said Tristram. “He’s a nice guy, and I feel like I’d be taking advantage; he’s all winded from beating those thirty other dudes.”
“C’mon, do it,” said Mark. “Do it. Do it. Do it for the lovely Isoud. Do it for me, her husband.”
“Well, okay,” Tristram said. He’s reluctant. “I mean, it’s really unchivalrous of me. I may be a jerk, but there are lines I hesitate to cross. I can do this, but he’ll be pissed if I do.”
“I don’t care,” said Mark. “Go joust that knight!”
Tristram rode over to Lamorak, and dehorsed him lickety-split.
“Wow,” said Lamorak with a laugh. “That was quite a display of horsemanship, my friend! Now dismount, Tristram, so we can continue this on foot.”
“Nah, I’m good,” said Tristram.
“Tristram, buddy, it’s one thing to dehorse me, but to dehorse me and then refuse to let me win back on points through on-foot swordfighting? You gotta give me a chance to win my money back, man, c’mon.”
“I, Sir Tristram of Liones –“
Lamorak interrupted. “I know you’re Sir Tristram. We know each other from France. I thought we were friends!”
“I have done you a disservice in dehorsing you, Sir Lamorak, from France, and taking advantage of your being winded –“
Lamorak interrupted again. “It’s not a big deal, just let’s finish the joust!”
Tristram ignored him. “And after taking advantage like that, which I only did because my liege King Mark insisted, I cannot sully myself by jousting further with you. It would be unfair.”
“What’s unfair is you quitting halfway through! I thought we were friends! This horse, a mare’s son hath failed me, now a queen’s son shall not fail thee! By the honor of my mother the queen, I insist we joust!”
“Can’t do it, pal, can’t do it. It’d be just too dishonorable.”
“For serious? I’m getting pissed off over here!”
“For serious, my friend.”
“You know what? We aren’t friends any more,” Lamorak snapped. He and his pal Sir Driant rode off in a huff.
Would you watch I Insist We Joust, a reality show in which contestants competed in various kinds of jousting and venery over the course of a six-week season? Why or why not?
Lamorak and Driant hadn’t gone far before they stumbled upon an unnamed knight in service of Morgan le Fay, the Queen of Gore. Lamorak wasted no time in beating this knight up and learning his story: Morgan had dispatched him to Camelot with a magical drinking-horn. A faithful lady drinks from the horn, she’s fine. A wicked adulteress drinks from the horn, she spills it everywhere. Supposedly Morgan’s plan was to embarrass Arthur, what with the whole Launcelot/Guenever thing.
Lamorak seized the drinking horn and brought it back to Castle Tintagil. There he told Mark and the assembled court all about it. Lamorak pressured Mark to compel all the ladies in the court to drink from the horn, which Mark agreed to. Out of the lovely Isoud and her one hundred ladies-in-waiting, exactly four ladies-in-waiting managed to drink successfully from the cup; the rest (Isoud included) were adulterers.
“Well, clearly the thing to do is put all of these women to death,” announced Mark. “I’m thinking a big bonfire?”
This did not go over very well with the various knights and barons. Sure, they’d all just learned that their wives were unfaithful, but they all had been unfaithful themselves with other men’s wives, so it balanced out. “Besides,” a baron pointed out, “this horn comes from Morgan le Fay, enemy of men and kings. If we put our wives to death over our, I mean their, adultery, then we’re playing right into her hands somehow!”
So nothing came of this interlude, except that Tristram took it as a personal affront that Lamorak would bring in the drinking horn like that. In Tristram’s mind it was all about Lamorak wanting to take Tristram down a peg by arranging for the lovely Isoud to die.
With Mark unable or unwilling to have the lovely Isoud burned at the stake, she and Tristram grew bolder in their love. Tristram’s cousin, Sir Andred, last seen spying on the lovers, spied on them some more! This time instead of running and telling Mark, which didn’t work, he gathered a lynch mob of a dozen knights together. He and his mob stormed the lovely Isoud’s bedchamber and grabbed Tristram while he was half-asleep. Then they tied him up and carried him off!
Andred and his mob hauled Tristram out to a high cliff overlooking the sea, at a little chapel. It was an old-fashioned pitch-a-knight-into-the-ocean party!
“Any last words?” one of the knights asked Tristram.
“Just that I’m an all-around excellent knight, and a patriot of Cornwall. Remember all that stuff I did earlier in this book? Slaying Sir Marhaus and freeing us from the yoke of Irish oppression? You remember. Mainly I just want to say I’m disappointed in my cousin Sir Andred. Wanting me dead is one thing, but assembling a lynch mob to arrest me, and holding me here with forty knights? Weak. Weak move, buddy. It’s a good thing we’re related, or else this probably would have gone down worse for you. Although if we were the only two men left alive, I’m sure we’d get along, because you’d be scared of me.”
“You jackass!” screamed Sir Andred, and lunged at Tristram with a sword. He just couldn’t take that taunting!
An action sequence followed: Tristram, despite having one knight holding his bound left hand, and another knight holding his bound right hand, defeated Andred and a dozen other knights somehow. For part of it, Tristram wielded the knights holding him like they were flails, swinging them around against their will. But then he ripped free and just sword-fought the rest of them.
Tristram defeated the knights around him, but Andred had essentially limitless reinforcements. Tristram was just one guy, and also he was still in his nightshirt! He hid in the chapel, barring the door while a hundred knights and various other folks gathered outside. While they broke down the doors in the front, Tristram went out the back. Going out the back involved leaping into the sea from atop a craggy cliff.
Malory’s a little all over the place today, folks. For starters, you’ve got Gouvernail (Tristram’s tutor/manservant) and Tristram’s two henchmen Sir Lambegus and Sir Sentraille de Lushon. Like Sir Lambegus before him, Malory demands we simply accept that Sir Sentraille de Lushon had been here, all along. Anyway, this trio heard about Sir Andred’s lynch mob against Tristram, about how Tristram had escaped by leaping into the sea and the jagged rocks below the cliffside, and how he hadn’t been seen since.
For whatever reason, they assumed Tristram was fine. They high-fived one another and said things like “that’s our Tristram, he can get out of anything” rather than morosely consult the odds of surviving an eighty-foot fall onto rocks. When they headed over to the bottom of the cliff with towels, their hopeless optimism was vindicated: Tristram was alive and mostly unhurt. Gouvernail, Lambegus, and Sentraille hauled him out of the water and dried him off with their towels.
Tristram’s first concern was for the lovely Isoud. If Sir Andred had led a lynch mob after him, he reasoned, perhaps an ancillary lynch mob had attacked his lady. Gouvernail’d anticipated this concern, however, and had already stashed the lovely Isoud in the last place anyone would look for her: a nearby leper colony.
“Good thinking in terms of no one looking for her there,” said Tristram. “But I think we should go fetch her and take her someplace not full of lepers.”
Fortunately Tristram had a rustic cabin in the woods. He was able to get the lovely Isoud out of the leper colony and set up house with her in the cabin, no trouble. And then they lived happily ever after!