Once the battle is over, King Pellinore shows up with a big pile of reinforcements.
“Too late, Pellinore!” says Arthur. “We already whupped the five kings.”
Arthur’s army and Pellinore’s armies merge, and Arthur’s army does a head count and casualty report, and they work out that the final score of the battle in the preceding chapter was like so. Arthur lost about 200 soldiers and eight knights of the Round Table, and the five kings lost thirty thousand people total, including soldiers, knights, kings, camp followers, and hangers-on. I’m hoping that most of them weren’t killed, just demoralized and driven off, otherwise I expect Humber would still be known, to this day, for its awesome pile of corpses.
But either way, a decisive victory! Arthur decides to erect a small monument to the battle, and has his men set up an abbey and stock it with plenty of nuns and vineyards. They call it the Abbey of Lovely Adventure, and the Humber Tourism Board recommends it for couples and families. If you get a season pass, it pays for itself on the tenth visit.
The remnants of the kings’ armies scatter, all demoralized. They limp back to the North, and Wales, and North Wales, and they tell everyone about how badly Arthur beat them. The various warlords in those regions murmur and fret, on account of this Arthur everyone’s talking about is just too badass for words, what with his chivalry aflower and so on. Eleven kings down, five kings down… at this rate Arthur will next have to fight off an alliance of like two kings, and then after that an alliance of half a king (maybe a Duke?), and so on.
Anyway, everybody heads back to Camelot and shortly afterwards Arthur’s having a sit-down with Pellinore.
“I would normally be talking to Merlin about this,” says Arthur. “But he’s run off.”
“Sure,” says Pellinore.
“And since you’re nearly as much of a jackass as he is, you seem like the best candidate to advise me on this.”
“Shoot,” says Pellinore.
Arthur pulls out the royal whiteboard. “We’re down eight knights from the Round Table,” he says. “I want to replace them as quickly as possible, and none of this dodgy math like we had before. Eight knights for promotion, let’s hear some names.”
“Hmm,” says Pellinore. “You’ve got a lot of fine knights working for you, and I get that you wouldn’t want to just declare that I count as nine knights. So, okay. Let’s see. Eight slots. Here’s what you do, you give four slots to senior guys, four slots to some of the younger ones coming up.”
“Sounds reasonable,” says Arthur. “Any names?”
“Older guys, well, there’s your brother-in-law Uriens, Morgan’s husband. He swore fealty to you after Lot’s alliance collapsed, that’d be a good political get. And here’s a list of three other guys we’ve never talked about before and never will again: Sir Hervise, Sir Galagars, and the knight nicknamed ‘the king of the lake’ on account of he’s such a strong swimmer.”
“Uriens, Hervise, Galagars, and the swimming guy,” repeats Arthur. “I’ll look over their records, but that sounds promising. Uriens is a definite.”
“Now as for the younger set,” says Pellinore, “you’ve got some options. How about the three knights who were with you and Guenever when things were looking bleak the other night?”
“Kay, Griftlet, and Gawaine?” Arthur considers. “Kay is my brother, Gawaine my nephew (even if he is a bit of a prick) and Griftlet is a good kid.”
“Hey, remember that time before he was a knight when I killed his master for no good reason and then I nearly killed him? Good times, good times.”
“I didn’t kill him, though. Because he’s a good kid.”
“Well, Kay’s earned it, definitely, after killing two kings like that,” says Arthur. “Even if he retires now and never does another heroic deed, he’s in the hall of fame for that one. So, okay, Kay and Griftlet and Gawaine it is. That just leaves one more slot.”
Tomorrow: who shall fill the remaining slot? Will it be Sir Tor, or some knight we’ve never heard of? Tune in to find out!