Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book I Chapter X
So after the battle, Arthur heads back to London, and Merlin tells him to call all his barons together for a planning session, because Team Lot & Mister 100 are dangerous business, not folks whom Arthur can just ignore. Arthur gets everyone together for a planning session, they sit down at the royal whiteboard and Arthur says, “okay, pitches, pitches, I want to hear pitches.”
And the barons exchange glances and they shrug. They’ve tried nothing and they’re out of ideas. Their best plan is “have a big fight with Team Lot & Mister 100,” which is also Arthur’s best idea, and he’s worried it’s not a very good idea.
So Arthur calls in Merlin. “Okay,” he says. “I know you said to get everyone together and hammer out a plan, but we’re flailing here. What are we missing?”
And Merlin says, “Well, first off Team Lot & Mister 100 has recruited four more kings while you guys have been sitting here, which brings them up to a total of ten kings. You, Arthur, are one king. 10 to 1. Those aren’t great odds.”
“Well, I could win or I could lose, so that’s fifty-fifty, right?” asks Arthur. The only math Arthur knows is how to keep track of the score in jousting.
“That is not how that works,” says Merlin. “Listen, though, I got a plan. You know France, right?”
“Right,” says Arthur.
“And you know Benwick, right?”
“Of course,” says Arthur. “Who hasn’t heard of the powerful and mighty Western European nation of Benwick, and its mighty capital Benwick, with all of those Roman ruins, rich history, center of art and commerce?”
“So I know that Bors, the King of France, and Ban, the King of Benwick, they’re a couple of good dudes with a pile of knights each. They’ll make great allies.”
“Cool,” says Arthur. “But how do I bring them on board?”
“Not a problem,” says Merlin. “There’s this other guy, King Claudas, I don’t even need to tell you where he’s king of, he’s at war with France and Benwick both at once. There’s this one castle that all three of them claim, and Claudas is kicking their asses, really, it’s shameful.”
“Mmm-hmm,” says Arthur. “So you want me to ally with losers. Lot won’t be expecting that.”
“What you do is,” says Merlin, “what you do is you contact Ban and Bors and promise to help them defeat Claudas if they help you defeat Team Lot & Mister 100.”
“Sounds sharp to me,” says Arthur. “I’m sold on this plan. This was a great planning session, thanks for the idea of holding a planning session, Merlin.”
King Arthur gets his two best knights — Brastias and Ulfius, the two guys he uses for everything, the old firm, I dunno whatever happened to Sir Jordanus but it can’t have been pretty — and he writes out a couple of nice letters to Bors and Ban and gives one letter to each of Brastias and Ulfius. Brastias and Ulfius sail out to the city of
Antwerp Benwick, which is where Bors and Ban are. No, I don’t know why Bors the King of France is in Benwick. Their trip is super uneventful except at the end as they’re going into the city they bump into this gang of eight knights.
“You’re under arrest on suspicion of not being from around here,” say the eight knights.
“It’s cool,” say Brastias and Ulfius. “We’re King Arthur’s men, here to deliver letters to Bors and Ban about teaming up to take out Claudas.”
“Oh, then you’re double under arrest,” say the eight knights. “We’re Claudas’s men. We were just hanging out in Benwick behind enemy lines causing trouble. We’ll take you back home and ransom you. It’ll be great for us, expensive for Arthur, and humiliating for you two, also Bors and Ban will be humiliated. Win-win-win!”
“That doesn’t sound like a good deal for us,” say Brastias and Ulfius, so there’s a fight.
No one wants to kill anyone else during this fight, so they wrap up their spears in pillows before they get started, and first there’s two on Arthur’s side and eight on Claudas’s, then it’s two and six, then two and four, then two and two, and I guess the last two of Claudas’s men decline to retreat because pretty soon all eight of them are lying on the ground, bruised and pillow-to-the-faced, and Brastias and Ulfius ride on into Benwick.
They get stopped by a couple more knights, Sir Phariance and Sir Lionses (whose names sound remarkably made-up and fake). They think it’s going to be more of the same, but no, Phrariance and Lionses have been sent by Bors and Ban to investigate this story that’s going around the city about Arthur having sent a couple of messengers in, which guys are hella badass.
Ulfius and Brastias meet Bors and Ban, and turn the letters over to them, and everyone has a good laugh about Claudas’s eight men and how terrible they were, and Bors and Ban agree to come help Arthur out.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Has anyone ever been to Benwick? How’s Benwick cuisine? I’ve always wanted to see the big museum there.
Huh, Benwick is still totally a real place. Who knew? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benwick
Can’t be the same Benwick though, as Benwick explicitly a) borders France and b) is on the other side of an ocean trip.