Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book II Chapter XIV
Balin and Susie ride together for a long weekend without incident, and on the fourth night they stay at a nice hotel, the home of a wealthy man who takes in travelers. They’re down in the hotel bar, relaxing after days of hard riding, and they get distracted by this one loud guy muttering angrily to himself in a corner. Susie would just as soon ignore the guy, but Balin always has to stick his oar in, so he gets up and goes over to the man and asks what the trouble is.
“Oh, I’ll tell you what the trouble is,” says the man. Let’s call him Raul, which is more thought towards his name than Malory gave. Raul’d been sitting there all evening waiting for someone to give him an opening. “I was jousting recently…”
“You poor man!” cries Balin. He’s eager to proffer sympathy.
“It gets worse, shut up,” says Raul. “There was this guy I was jousting, King Pellam’s brother, and he cheated!”
“Dang, man, that’s rough,” says Balin.
“Shut up I’m not done!” snaps Raul. “I knocked him down two falls out of three, and instead of conceding the match like a gentleman, he swears he’ll attack my favorite person, and sure enough, as we’re leaving, he comes up invisible and jabs a spear into my son!”
“Dude!” cries Balin.
“Now my son’s dying and the local witch says she needs a sample of the blood of the knight who attacked him,” says Raul. “How am I supposed to get that?”
“Dude!” cries Balin again. “I know this guy you’re talking about! His name is Garlon and I’ve never seen him but he’s killed two of my best friends ever, Sir Perin and Susie’s boyfriend whose name I’ve already forgotten! Man, what I wouldn’t give for a crack at him.”
“Well, we’re both in luck then,” says Raul. “His brother is throwing a big jousting-party in three weeks at his castle. I was going to go, but Pellam says you can’t go stag, all men must be accompanied by an escort. His parties prior to this have been notorious sausage parties.”
“That’s great!” says Balin. “I’ve got Susie! I got her to give some of her blood last chapter, I’m sure I can get her to marry one of us!”
Susie in fact is not up for marrying Sir Balin or marrying this unnamed stranger (Raul) with the comatose son, but that doesn’t matter, she only needs to be on Balin’s arm to get him into the party. The three of them make out for Pellam’s castle, and arrive, and the soldiers there drive the unescorted Raul away with sticks, and then politely invite Balin and Susie in for the party. Before the party they get a nice shower and a change of clothing, and there’s a little fracas over Pellam’s no-swords-at-the-party policy, and Balin explains that he’s got to have his two swords, it’s his schtick, he’s Mister Two-Swords, the Knight with Two Swords, and they compromise and he leaves his magic one with the horses while bringing along his other sword. Susie, of course, has her spear, no one would dare take a lady’s spear.
So they get into the party, and they’re seated at one of the tables in the front on account of they’re a knight and a lady, and Balin is all the time looking around trying to spot the invisible knight. Flaw in his plan: he doesn’t know what Garlon looks like.
Luckily, Susie is with him, and thus someone in his party is bright enough to think to ask people. He starts asking after Sir Garlon, and the knight seated next to him is well-informed enough to point him out: Garlon is the surly drunk over there bragging about how he can turn invisible and murder knights.
Balin hops up at that news and makes his way over to Garlon. “I’d better attack Garlon now, in the middle of his brother’s party while he’s surrounded by friends and well-wishers, because I might not get a chance to later on!” he thinks to himself.
“What’re you lookin’ at?” growls Garlon, and smacks Balin across the cheek with a bare hand.
“Oh, oh, you did not just slap me!” cries Balin. “Plus you murdered my two best friends, Perin and Susie’s boyfriend!”
“What?” asks Garlon, but Balin has already drawn his sword and, without further ado, chops the king’s brother’s head off.
Susie tosses him her spear, and he stabs Garlon’s body in the chest, so that plenty of blood wells out (I don’t know why, really, I guess Garlon wasn’t bleeding profusely enough from his stump of a neck).
“This would be a great time to make some kind of quip about taking Garlon’s blood and using it to make a potion to heal that one guy’s son,” says Balin. He looks around at the assembled knights, all of whom have variously stunned expressions on their faces. “I’m kind of bad at quips. Anyone have a good quip ready?”
You may call Balin the Idiot-Knight, but the dude’s got style! This is a man who knows someone needs to step up in this story and be a PC.
For some reason the whole Raoul conversation is making me picture the King Arthur stories retold in an alternative universe US in the 50s. Or maybe the 70s.
Not Fisher King like, but with the magic and other stuff changed to fit the setting.