And then Sir Bleoberis shows up! It’s okay if you don’t remember him, Malory says. He was in some of the big jousting crowd scenes in Book VII, but Malory graciously forgives you for having forgotten about him. Bleoberis facts: he’s got a brother, Sir Blamore; he and his brother are both members of the French royal family, which is to say, their cousin is Sir Launcelot and their father, probably, is Sir Bors. I say “probably” because according to the minimal (oh, so minimal) research I did just now, Bors supposedly has zero children and that’s a plot point in certain tales. So maybe his father is Sir Gwenbaus, the brother that Ban and Bors had for a hot minute back in Book I. Regardless, let’s assume that Sir Bleoberis is a fine knight of noble pedigree, and that any confusion on that point is due to Malory’s continuity errors.
Anyway. Sir Bleoberis shows up, and presents himself to King Mark’s court. Mark is thrilled by his arrival; he’s a minor celebrity, a Knight of the Round Table and all. So when Sir Bleoberis requests a boon, Mark is only too happy to grant it! Which of course, turns around and bites Mark immediately, because the boon Bleoberis wants is to run off with Sally, the hottest lady in Mark’s court, and Mark’s own mistress, and also the wife of the Earl Segwarides.
Mark is honor bound to smile a tight smile and watch as Sally cheerfully runs away with Bleoberis, climbing up behind him on his horse and riding off into the extramartial sunset. Afterwards, though, he can’t help letting it slip to Segwarides that his wife was unfaithful, again.
Segwarides armors up and rides after Bleoberis to “rescue” Sally, and this whole scandal is the talk of the court. Especially the ladies-in-waiting who knew that Sally was Tristram’s mistress in addition to Mark’s mistress, they’re overwhelmed by the gossip possibilities. One of them finds Tristram and chews him out for not behaving more like a proper fictional paramour, and riding after his lady-love, since his love for Sally was so pure and perfect and idealized.
“You know, she has a husband,” says Tristram. “Not really my place. If this Earl Segwarides weren’t around, then maybe, but still. You can’t interfere in a marriage like that. Tell you what, when he gets back with Sally, I’ll joust him, what do you say? Me and Segwarides. As fas as I know, we’ve never fought before. Maybe we’ll just have a nice conversation. I don’t know. We’ll do something.”
Shortly after this, one of Segwarides’s squires runs into the court and starts expositing about how badly Beloberis beat Segwarides up. Blood spurting everywhere, bruises, broken bones, girls pointing and laughing. Thunder rumbles through the court! Bleoberis may be a Knight of the Round Table, but declining to return a knight’s wife when the knight demands her is unsportsmanlike conduct!
Everyone looks at Tristram, who reluctantly announces his plan to ride down Bleoberis and confront him for this affront. He calls for his squire/tutor Gourvernail, and arms and armors, and rides off.
Before he gets to Sir Bleoberis, he finds his cousin Sir Andred, riding despondently. Andred is all bloody.
“Andred, cousin, what has happened to you?”
“Oh, Tristram, it was awful. Our uncle and lord, Mark, sent me forth to engage with two Knights of the Round Table who have been making trouble in Cornwall, and bring them back to him, and clearly I’ve made a terrible mess of things by getting myself beaten up! They ignored my polite request to visit Mark’s court! I don’t know what to do!”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll handle it,” says Tristram. “Bleoberis has a guy with him, huh? Is it his brother, Sir Blamore?”
“What? No. I don’t know what you’re on about. I’m talking about Sir Sagramore the Lusty and Sir Dodinas the Thug.” Andred has been sent after two wholly unrelated Knights of the Round Table who were making wholly unrelated trouble in Cornwall.
“Whatever, I’m adding them to the list, you just go back to our uncle’s court, cousin.”
So Andred rides in one direction and Tristram in the other.
Next chapter, we stop adding knights to Tristram’s beat-down list and start marking them off!