In which Breunor fights an entire castle
A couple of days of travel later, Breunor and Marcie stumbled across Sir Tristram’s frenemy Sir Palomides, also late of Book VIII. Again, he and Breunor jousted, and again, Breunor was dehorsed handily, and again, the other knight declined to continue on foot.
“Why are you even calling yourself a knight and following me around?” demanded Marcie. “You can’t beat anybody except the jester, and he was doing a pratfall!”
“It’s all good, Ill-Speaker,” Breunor said. “I mean, hey, Sir Launcelot’s Cousin is related to Sir Launcelot. And Sir Palomides is right up there in the ranks, near Sir Lamorak and Sir Tristram and all those guys. If they don’t want to dismount and fight me on foot in the second part of the joust, hey, that’s fine by me. I’m young and learning.”
“You know the reason they didn’t want to dismount is because it would have been an insult to their abilities for you to even try to slow them down a little,” said Marcie.
Around this time Sir Mordred showed up and started traveling with Breunor and Marcie. Malory mentions this apropos of nothing. It’s almost as if he’s papering over a transparent continuity error in his first draft. Then the trio arrived at Castle Orgulous! Apparently this was where they were headed? Malory’s vague. At Castle Orgulous, there was only one rule: if you were a knight, you had to win a joust or you lost your life your freedom your horse. They kept revising the penalties to be less punitive, because otherwise no one would have visited, and Castle Orgulous needed the tourism dollars.
A couple of knights emerged as they approached. Mordred and Breunor jousted with them. Skipping to the end, Breunor chased a wounded knight into the courtyard of Castle Orgulous and killed him, while Mordred and the other knight fought to a draw outside.
A hundred or so knights came boiling out of Castle Orgulous into the courtyard, ready to avenge their fallen comrade. Breunor realized he was in over his head, so he carefully tied his horse up just outside Castle Orgulous, then went back inside and started fighting the hundred knights. It’s okay, says Malory: he managed to get into a doorway, such that they had to come at him one at a time. The alternative, he figured, was more time spent with Marcie, whom he had begun to tire of.
This particular doorway led to the bedroom of a lady-in-waiting at Castle Orgulous, Avery. While Avery chilled in her room, doing a little needlepoint, in burst Breunor and all these knights trying to kill him. The scene piqued Avery’s interest, so she watched him for a bit, then decided to help him out.
Avery stepped out the back door of her room (don’t think about it too much, Malory didn’t) and found Breunor’s horse. She led the horse to her own bedroom window, and called to Breunor through it.
“Psst! Sir Stranger! In my bedroom! Psst! You’re doing an awesome and sexy job fighting all these knights, but eventually you’re going to die. So come out and get your horse! I know, you don’t want to flee, but think about it this way — obviously the only way you can get over here is if you fight your way out the front, which is as manly and heroic a deed as any!” Again, don’t think too much about the back door that Avery’s chamber may or may not have had.
Breunor saw the logic in this, so he fought his way forward and pushed through a wad of knights. After he slew two at one stroke the rest flee, enabling him to mount up and ride off. Avery, for whatever reason, decided to visit Camelot and tell Arthur and everyone there how Breunor had totally killed like a dozen guys in a massively knightly series of deeds.
Meanwhile outside the castle, Marcie and Mordred were getting bored. Marcie complained that after so long Breunor was probably dead, and they should have just starting moving again without him; Mordred could finish out the adventure.
“Not so fast!” cried Breunor, as he rides up. “It is I, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit! I fought my way past a hundred knights and killed like a dozen of them!”
“No way.” Marcie folded her arms.
“Way, Ill-Speaker! I did that!”
“I doubt it, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit. I doubt it very much,” she huffed.
“It’s a lot of fun hearing you two bicker, but tell you what,” said Mordred. “I’ll settle this argument by going to check.”
So Mordred rode over to the castle, where the hundred or so knights licked their wounds and cared for their dead. Everybody there was entirely willing to confirm Breunor’s version of events. Some compared him favorably to Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram.
When Marcie heard this, she just pouted.
“Your attitude isn’t nearly as charming as you think it is, Ill-Speaker,” warned Mordred. “Sir Ill-Fitting Suit here is a good knight, and I think that I, Sir Mordred, know a thing or two about knightliness. If I vouchsafe him, that’s a sign you should stop talking smack about him all the time. I mean, yes, he’s been dehorsed a few times, but what knight hasn’t? Even Sir Launcelot, in his salad days, was often dehorsed. I tell you, Palomides and Bleoberis declined to fight him on foot because they weren’t so confident in their ability to trounce a strapping kid like him. Older knights are better at horsemanship than younger knights; experience tells. But younger knights are better at swordplay than older knights; youthful vigor also tells. In summation, you’re wrong.”
Marcie was unconvinced, but Mordred was prepared to speechify for as long as it took; he just kept on in that vein, defending Breunor, while the trio took to the road again.
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