Book IV is a whirlwind tour! On to the next story, the Story of Arthur Getting Invaded and Knights Getting Promoted!
King Arthur, meanwhile, he’s back in Camelot, just enjoying the peace, when along comes some bad news to spoil his fun.
In comes a messenger. “Sire! The King of Ireland is invading!”
Second messenger. “Sire! The King of Ireland’s brother, the King of Denmark, is also invading!”
And so on, with the third, fourth, and fifth messengers. Arthur hasn’t even had his morning coffee yet, and boom, a five-king alliance is storming through the countryside plundering and setting serfs on fire.
Arthur sighs. “I’d like to spend a full four weeks without getting invaded or suffering some strange adventure,” he says. “But okay. These guys can’t come in to England and just start lighting up peasants. The peasants deserve fair and equitable treatment, which doesn’t involve immolation at any stage. So I’m going to have to sally forth and do battle with them, which, not my favorite thing in the world but I’m very good at it, apparently, and it’s my responsibility.
“I’m going to need more men than I have, so draft a letter to all my barons, telling them to send knights and we’ll rendezvous. Be sure to CC Pellinore on the letter, he runs around calling himself ‘King Pellinore’ instead of ‘Sir Pellinore,’ so either he’s even more of a jackass than I think, or else he has some knights vassal.”
Arthur’s quick announcement gets a lot of tongues wagging at Camelot; many of his barons would rather stay home and drink than go out and wage defensive war. But Arthur makes it clear this is not optional, they’re getting back on a war footing.
“You mind coming with?” he says to Guenever. “I know one way to do it is the king rides off to war and the queen is left in charge, but I was hoping you’d come with. If one member of this five-king junta breaks off and attacks Camelot, I don’t want you getting taken hostage or, worse, killed. Plus the war will be more fun with you along.”
“Sure,” says Guenever.
So Arthur and Guenever and the knights he has immediately on hand, they all sally forth. They get to the rendezvous point, in the forest next to Humber. Humber, I had to look this up, it’s a bay that (at this point in time) marks the northern border of Arthur’s kingdom. Past Humber, it’s all Northern England, full of lunatics, north of there, and if you keep going you hit Scotsmen, so, best place to rally up for fighting off invasion. Now the local knight, the regional franchise-holder, is the brother of one of the five kings, it doesn’t matter which one, but he gets wind of this troop buildup Arthur is doing, and he goes to the five kings.
“It is the flower of chivalry all up in there,” he says. “Arthur and his knights, and more knights pouring in every day. You guys better take the offensive and quit screwing around burning the countryside, because Arthur is not fooling around. You remember how he beat those eleven kings? You guys are less than half that in terms of overall number of kings. Plus, he’s not doing what so many kings do, and hiding in the back, he’s right up there in with his soldiers, like Alexander the Great or something. Seriously, you guys better get cracking.”