So with Gawaine’s strange adventure in a shambles, and Gawaine himself quitting it, clearly someone needs to come in and clean up. Normally, the go-to man for this would be Merlin, but he’s been out of commission since the beginning of this book and he’s not getting out any time soon. So instead, Malory calls in Nimue, the Damosel of the Lake, aka Ms. Merlin, a name I’m sure she hates.
Nimue is walking through the woods, reflecting on how nice it is to not have to clean up after anyone else’s botched strange adventure, and she bumps into a doleful merry man.
“Ho, merry man, what up?”
“Alas and alack,” replies the merry man. “My master Sir Pellas is bedridden, and says he will die for love. It’s a shameful story and soon I’ll be unemployed! Alas for strange adventures! Woe! Woe!”
“Somebody messed up a strange adventure?” Nimue sighs. “It’s all fun and games until it’s a big ol’ mess, and then who has to clean up? Nimue is who. All right. Take me to Pellas, I’ll work this out.”
As the merry man takes her to Pellas, Nimue mutters under her breath about how it’s ultimately the fault of whatever lady drove Pellas to such despair, which I think is a pretty bad snap judgement, but I’m not there boots on the ground, so what do I know?
Anyhow, the merry man brings Nimue in to Pellas’s tent, and he’s lying there asleep, and Nimue is like whoa! Check him out! I’d cast charm person on that any day! Instead, though, she just casts sleep on him, which doesn’t have any obvious effect, since he’s already asleep, but it means he’ll stay asleep until she wakes him. She tells the merry men she’ll be back in a minute.
Nimue rides over to Ettard’s castle, because unlike Merlin she hasn’t learned to teleport without error I guess. Nimue grabs Ettard and drags her back to Pellas’s camp. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Lady Ettard,” she says. “Look what a fine, fine specimen of man this knight is! I mean, don’t you just salivate looking at him, lying there all rumpled and bedsy?”
“Enh,” says Ettard, and makes a so-so motion with her hand.
Nimue finds this answer unacceptable. “You salivate looking at him,” she says, waving her hand in front of Ettard’s face.
“I salivate looking at him?” Ettard repeats.
“You’re mad for him, you love him like a crazy stalker.”
“I’m mad for him, I love him like a crazy stalker!” Ettard is wholly Jedi mind tricked out, and feels great stirring for Pellas. “I do! I love him! I want him! Wait, how does this even work? I remember not loving him, like, thirty seconds ago!”
Nimue raises her eyebrows quizzically. “Really? Hm. Probably you’ve been judged by God. I expect a passing angel has worked a miracle.”
“Wake up, Pellas! Wake up, for I love you for some reason! Let me love you!” Ettard tries frantically to wake Pellas, but of course, magical sleep.
Nimue makes Ettard take a step back, and then wakes Pellas up. He feels substantially better once he’s awake, which may or may not be a result of Nimue’s magic. Malory is ambiguous.
Pellas sees Ettard, and he’s pissed at her, on account of he faked his death and her response was to seduce his supposed killer as a reward for killing him.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” says Ettard. “But now I totally want to have a million of your babies. I don’t even know why. Please?”
“Ugh, no.” Pellas has finally had enough of Ettard. Years he’s spent trying to get into her good graces, winning tournaments for her, getting beaten up by her knights, all this stuff, and she turns around and sleeps with Gawaine.
“I know, Gawaine, bleah, he’s the worst. But just give me another chance! I’ll make it up to you!”
“Nope,” says Pellas. “I look at you, I just see some piece of Gawaine’s trash.”
Ettard runs off sobbing. Malory claims that she kills herself, but I choose to reject that. Nimue’s suggestion wears off after, what, a day per level of the caster? So a week, maybe most of a month at the outside. Ettard no doubt took to her bed to die of grief and dehydration, and the spell wore off before she died, so, full recovery.
Pellas finds himself at a crossroads, and accepts Nimue’s invitation to return with her to her home. They end up living happily ever after! So that’s nice. Although there’s a strong suggestion that Pellas’s change of heart with regards to Ettard was due to Nimue’s magic. So, theirs is a marriage built on a firm foundation of secrets and lies.
Gawaine sulks for the better part of a year, then shows up in Chapter XXVII, which we’ll get to in due course.