Meanwhile again, while we’re just talking about the random stuff that Tristram does, he’s outside his tent (which he’s still got pitched outside Camelot) chillaxing when a lady wanders by, sobbing.
Tristram asks her why she’s sobbing, and if she wouldn’t mind stopping, and her response is that she’d be happy to, except that her baby was stolen from her.
“Well, not my baby. Let me explain. My name is, let’s say Marcie.”
“Okay. Hello, Marcie.”
“And my lady — let’s call her Patty — is a great lady, full of renown and fame and probably many titles also.”
“And she had this baby, okay?”
“Not as far as I know. Normal, human baby.”
“And she wanted to give it to Sir Launcelot as a present —“
Tristram interrupts. “Wait, really?”
“Yes. So she gave —“
Tristram interrupts again. “Maybe it’s me, I’m a naive naif from provincial Cornwall, but is that common, giving knights babies as presents?”
“It doesn’t matter, because she entrusted it to me, and I was supposed to take it to Camelot and give it to Launcelot but this strange knight mugged me and stole the baby and Launcelot isn’t even here he’s at Joyous Garde and I don’t know where that is and waaaaaaaaah!” Marcie breaks down sobbing.
Tristram does what he feels he has to, under the circumstances: he promises to go fetch the baby, or else get beaten up trying. Marcie finds this a great comfort, and directs Tristram after the baby-stealer.
Tristram has no difficulty tracking down the villain, whose name is — I am not kidding — Pitiless Bruce. Breuse Sans Pity. Pitiless Bruce is actually a recurring antagonist in Malory. Second-string, maybe, but still a credible threat. Sort of like the Riddler. Anyway, Tristram tracks down Pitiless Bruce no trouble, and they joust and Tristram gets the baby back and lets Pitiless Bruce go with a warning, which he later regrets because, like I said, Pitiless Bruce is a recurring antagonist. [H]e was a great foe unto many good knights of King Arthur’s court.
So Tristram returns the enchanted baby to Marcie, and she decided to just wait at Camelot until Launcelot comes back, and everything’s hunky-dory, until Tristram hears from his tutor/servant Gourvernail about how his old buddy King Anguish is in over his head as recounted in the previous chapter.
“This is actually great news for me,” says Tristram. “I know there’s nobody except me and various Knights of the Round Table who could hope to defeat Sir Bleoberis, and of course Knights of the Round Table are forbidden from fighting one another by Guevener’s edict. I fought him to a standstill before, so I can probably take him now. And while basically everyone in Ireland hates me, Anguish doesn’t, and he’s not a bad dude. I help him out, he’ll have political cover to help me out.”
Tristram sends Gouvernail to act as a go-between. Anguish is pretty surprised to see Gouvernail, and more surprised to hear Tristram is hanging out in the next tent over. Anguish and a couple of his guys go to visit Tristram, they hug, it’s a touching reunion.
Anguish recaps his situation: he’s been summoned to Camelot because a relative of Sir Bleoberis died in Ireland, the rules are he has to fight Bleoberis or find someone else to, and if he loses the fight or refuses to fight, he loses his kingdom. Bleoberis and his brother Blamore are cousins of Sir Launcelot, and crazy-badass, so it’s not looking good for him.
“King Anguish, sire,” says Tristram, “you did me a good turn back in Ireland, and I’m still sweet on your daughter despite whatever you may have heard about a certain Sally, so I’ll fight for you on two conditions.”
“First, promise me you didn’t actually arrange the murder of Bleoberis’s relative.”
“Yeah, no, I didn’t even know that such a knight was visiting Ireland. Totally I had nothing to do with that.”
“Second, promise me that you’ll do me a favor to be named later. It’s traditional.”
“Are you going to end up asking me for the hand of my daughter, the lovely Isoud?”
“The favor doesn’t get named until later!”
And they shake on it.