This story at least has Nimue in it. Malory opens the Tale of Tristram’s Story With Nimue In It by telling us about a great new villain character he’s come up with: Lady Annowre. She was a sorceress who wanted to marry King Arthur, and wouldn’t take no for an answer!
“Pretty original, huh?” says Malory.
One time, while Arthur visited Cardiff, this Annowre sneaked into his chamber and ensorceled him. Bewitched, he ran off with her to her lair in the north of Wales, but every time she started to get hot and heavy with him, Arthur shook off the enchantment and remembered that he was a married man. Then Annowre had to re-ensorcel him, and start the whole process over.
By the fourth or so time through this, she was pretty frustrated. Her backup plan, to just kill him, was looking more attractive. Meanwhile a bunch of other knights, Launcelot and all, went into the witchy woods in North Wales, searching for their king. That was probably why Sir Lamorak, Sir Kay, Sir Brandiles, Sir Meliagrance, Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Tor had all been around in these woods for the last couple of stories, though Malory doesn’t explicitly connect those dots for us.
However, none of the knights could find Annowre’s lair, because of magic! And so we turn to Nimue, stuck with the job of advancing the plot whenever Malory can’t think of a more elegant solution. Armed with her magic, she found Sir Tristram. (NIMUE BATS CLEANUP 6!)
“Sir Tristram!” she cried when she saw him. “We’ve never met, but I’m glad to have bumped into you, because a terrible crime is going to be committed in about two hours, unless you stop it.”
“All right, mysterious pretty lady,” said Tristram. “I guess I’ll stop it, then?”
“I’ll magic us over there, hold on. Be aware we’re going to save the best guy ever.”
“Seriously? Sounds like a pretty cool strange adventure.”
“I’m talking about King Arthur himself, Tristram.”
“Oh?” Tristram was mildly disappointed; he thought she meant Launcelot. “Well, yeah, I’ll help him, regardless of the strangeness or lack thereof.”
Nimue and Tristram traveled, semi-magically, to Lady Annowre’s hidden castle. There they crashed her Murder King Arthur party, already in progress. As they burst in, Arthur stood on foot in the great hall, assailed from either side by two knights. He had a tree branch or something, because Lady Annowre, up on her throne, held Excalibur. She laughed as she watched the bout. One of her knights knocked Arthur down, and Annowre jumped up! She swung Excalibur, ready to slice Arthur’s head off.
But then Tristram burst in! He blocked the strike, then killed Annowre’s two knights! Meanwhile Nimue healed Arthur with magic; as Annowre tried to escape, Arthur seized Excalibur from her and decapitated her!
Afterwards Nimue claimed Annowre’s head, for magical a-doings-with. Arthur asked who it is that was that rescued him, and Tristram introduced himself to Arthur as Sir Guy Incognito, the Anonymous Knight. No particular reason, Tristram’s just a jerk!
Once Sir Ector the Lesser found Annowre’s castle, Tristram excused himself and left. It’d gotten to be about time to pick Sir Kehydius up from the forester’s hut where Tristram had left him a couple of stories back. Sir Tristram had just been wandering around North Wales, killing time, since then.