After Nacien’s pep talk, Bors gathered his stuff together and continued on. A little ways down the path he watched as a mama bird fed her baby birds with her own flesh, dying for them.

“Portentous!” he said to himself, and then he reached the Tower Of The Hot Chick, where he met the Hot Chick in question, Catherine.

Catherine, pale and lively, with big almond-shaped eyes and silky brown hair, was extremely pleased to meet Sir Bors; she seriously feted him. Before he knew it, he was in Catherine’s boudoir, with her sitting very close to him on a sofa. She wore something silky and sheer. On the coffee table in front of them she’d spread meat and pastries and creams and fruits and liquor. There was a strong sense in the air that all Bors needed to do was say the word, and Catherine would climb into his lap and hand-feed him strawberries, or douse herself with whipped cream for him to lick off, or whatever. Whatever he wanted, man. Whatever he wanted.

Catherine was seriously up for anything, and she was not subtle with her hints.

Bors found his throat had gone seriously dry. “I need some water,” he said weakly.

Catherine clapped her hands and called for a squire to fetch Sir Bors some water.

So Bors drank some water, and then he took a little bit of the least-appetizing-looking pastry and soaked it in the water, so he wouldn’t enjoy eating it, and then he ate it.

Catherine watched this. Needless to say she was a little disappointed. “I trow ye like not my meat.” She paused. “I’m making a double entendre. By ‘meat’ I mean not only the smorgasbord laid out here, but also my fabulous body. My body is pretty dang awesome. I work hard on it; I do squats every day.”

“Yes, truly, God thank you madam,” Bors said all in a rush, before Catherine could demonstrate. “I’m currently not eating meat. It’s a thing, I mean…”

Catherine clucked her tongue. “There there,” she told him. “It’s okay. As an idealized fantasy object, I’m not just eager to please. I’m also sympathetic, understanding, and incredibly thick-skinned. I don’t want to pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to. We don’t have to have wild monkey sex; we can just talk.”

So they just talked! Or as Malory puts it, after supper they spake of one thing and another.

When their small talk reached its zenith, Catherine signaled to her handmaiden, who gave a slight nod. The handmaiden crossed over to the window, where she opened and closed the Venetian blinds three times. Down in the courtyard a guy saw that and he responded by hitting a gong. Across the compound, this other guy heard the gong and… anyway Malory doesn’t go into any of this but the whole thing seems highly pat, because the upshot is that a squire burst into Catherine’s boudoir and delivered the following speech, which didn’t sound suspiciously well-rehearsed or anything:

Madam, ye must purvey you to-morn for a champion, for else your sister will have this castle and also your lands, except ye can find a knight that will fight to-morn in your quarrel against Pridam, the black knight.

Catherine got all super-theatrical! She put the back of her hand up to her forehead and groaned. “Woe! Woe! Lord God, wherefore granted ye to hold my land, whereof I should now be disherited without reason or right? If only some heroic knight could save me! Perhaps one whom I attempted to seduce but that turned out to be a nonstarter. Even if he isn’t interested in ravishing me and licking whipped cream off of various parts of me, surely this hypothetical knight would be virtuous enough to save me in my hour of need!”

I shall comfort you,” said Bors.

“Oh! Sir Bors! I completely forgot you were here! How rude of me,” said Catherine. “I wouldn’t want you to put yourself out for my benefit.”

But Bors insisted, gallant dude that he was!

THE STORY OF CATHERINE AND HER SISTER, AS TOLD BY CATHERINE

Once upon a time, there was a king named Aniause, who ruled a whole valley. And he married my older sister Minerva, despite me being single and much hotter. I mean, I live in the Tower Of The Hot Chick; come on!

Anyway, Minerva, oy, is she ever wicked! Aniause gave her control of his kingdom, and she amused herself by having random peasants and knights and Aniause’s relatives all executed, just for funsies!

So naturally after a few years of this, Aniause wised up and kicked Minerva out of his kingdom. He annulled her queen status, and he gave these lands to me, and that was great.

And then he died, which was sad. But then worse than that, Minerva came back and was all, I’m taking these lands over again, and I was all, no you aren’t! Then she went to my knights, and was all, how much is my sister paying you? And they were all, not enough, and she was all, I’ll double that… What with one thing and another I ended up bereft of knights and stuck out here on my lonesome in the Tower Of The Hot Chick.

And I’m even going to lose this place, my home, if I can’t come up with a champion to beat her champion, Minerva told me. Her champion is Pridam le Noire, Pridam the Black Knight. He’s a terrible guy. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“Never fear,” said Bors. “I will fight this Pridam jerk for you. Send a courier to Minerva, have her send her man over tomorrow morning.”

Catherine was very happy to hear that. She suggested that she and Bors celebrate this new development by sleeping together, but Bors declined. Instead he slept on the floor; he was on the Grail Quest and so it was a bad time to start up a new love affair.

As he lay on the floor of Catherine’s boudoir, with her in her skimpy lingerie just a few feet away in her nice big bed, Bors had a mystic vision. He dreamed that he met two birds, a white swan and a black raven. The swan told him “give me meat and serve me, and I will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, and also you will be white like me.” Then the raven told him “that swan is a jerk; you should serve me instead, and don’t worry about me being black, because it’s not anything to fret about at all.”

Then Bors found himself in a chapel. On the left side of the chapel there was a worm-eaten chair, and on the right side of the chapel there were two giant lilies, held apart by Nacien. If the flowers touched each other, Bors somehow knew, one of them would suck all the whiteness out of the other, but Nacien kept them apart. Instead, both of the flowers spewed forth more flowers, and fruit, and all kinds of nice things.

“Would it be stupid to let these flowers touch that chair?” Nacien asked Bors.

Bors figured this was a trick question, probably. “It would probably just collapse the chair, what with that chair being so decrepit.”

“Correct!” Nacien was very pleased with this response. “Remember this bizarrely distorted allegory!”

In the morning Bors reflected on what a crazy dream he had. Modestly, he dressed himself before meeting with Catherine, and even more modestly, he insisted on the two of them taking in a Mass before they settled down to business.

Business item one: Bors meeting the knights he would lead into battle against Minerva’s champion, Pridam, and his men. That Catherine’s story hinged on these knights having already defected over to Minerva’s side: unaddressed!

Business item two: Bors suiting up, with armor and sword and so on.

Business item three: Catherine once more offering Bors some meat, hint hint.

Business item four: Bors again gallantly declining.

Then Bors departed with his new entourage of assistant knights! Catherine watched them go, and then she turned to her evil sister Minerva (Minerva was totally there you guys) and said “Madam, ye have done me wrong to bereave me of my lands that King Aniause gave me, and full loath I am there should be any battle.

“Yeah, well, it’s not up to you,” said Minerva. “Unless you want Sir Virtuous over there to forfeit.”

Battle was maybe a strong term for it though, because what happened next is (as I’m sure you’ve guessed) a jousting tournament. (JOUSTING TOURNAMENT 37!) Bors and his guys were one list, Pridam and his guys were the other, and blah blah blah. By the end of the tournament, Bors was only lightly wounded while Pridam was maimed. Bors accepted Pridam’s surrender, and Minerva fled when she saw that Bors had won the joust.

Bors addressed Minerva’s remaining knights. “Okay, so, fellas, as you can see, my team and I have defeated your champion and his team. Minerva fled; Catherine wins. You can either swear fealty to her and let her rule this land from her throne in the Tower of the Hot Chick, or else I’ll club you to death. What’s it going to be?”

The various knights all acceded to Bors’s demand. They knelt before Catherine, everyone cheered, and she was recognized as the rightful queen of the area. She held a big party honoring Bors, after which Catherine asked Bors, one more time, if he was interested in a endless stream of carnal delights. All the steak and pork and veal he could eat. Title of prince consort, fealty of all the knights, living happily ever after with his adoring Catherine, the Queen of the Tower of the Hot Chick.

“I am offering you literally every earthly pleasure possible. Ours would be a deep and abiding love, eclipsing all the romances of story and song. You would wield power, and wisdom, and throughout the land you would be known as a great and mighty king. Forget all this talk about the Arthurian mythos; you and me, we’ll make it the Borsian mythos. All the glory, sex, honor, pleasure, wisdom, sense of self-satisfaction, riches, and delights would be yours for the taking. Again: literally every possible earthly pleasure.”

“Nope! I’m in pursuit of a more spiritual goal.”

“Suit yourself,” said Catherine with a disappointed sigh, and she disappeared forever from the story as Bors rode off.


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