Malory shifts gears unexpectedly at this point. Sir Carados, he announces, that mighty villain who is 100% knight, 100% king, and 99% giant, fought Sir Gawaine. This is a whole new Sir Carados. Forget everything you thought you knew about Sir Carados! He’s nasty, Malory says. So as the curtain opens, he’s beating on Sir Gawaine. By the end of the battle Carados had beaten Gawaine pretty badly. Rather than slay the knight, Carados takes him prisoner.
As Carados carries Gawaine away on horseback towards his castle, Sir Launcelot wanders by.
“Why, Gawaine!” exclaims Launcelot. “Hello! Fancy seeing you in these parts! How are you doing?”
“I’m bound hand and foot, lying semiconscious stretched across the back of a villain’s horse, how do you think I’m doing? Are you going to rescue me or what?”
“Fine, fine. Sir Carados! Set down that knight and let’s you and me joust!”
“Pfft,” says Carados. “I’m not scared of you.”
“Then fight me!”
“All right, I will!” And Carados tosses Gawaine aside and he and Launcelot joust for a bit.
It does not go well for Carados. Launcelot smashes Carados’s helmet such that shards of metal are embedded in Carados’s brain, tramples him with his own horse, and finally decapitates him. It’s pretty gory!
CUT TO Tristram, getting told this story.
“Okay, I think I’m going to put off my go-hunting-for-Launcelot plan then. Let’s just go back to Cornwall.”
CUT TO Cornwall! Tristram arrives there, and the lovely Isoud, and there’s a wedding! Mark marries the lovely Isoud! As he threatened! That happens!
At the reception, there is of course a jousting tournament, which Tristram wins easily. Some of the Cornish ladies-in-waiting are jealous of the lovely Isoud’s henchwoman Bragwaine. She came in, all Irish, and now suddenly she’s the new queen’s favorite. So they send her into the woods to gather herbs, and there they ambush her, tie her to a tree, and leave her to die. Sir Palamides, last seen losing to Tristram during the tournament in Chapter 9, happens by and rescues her around the middle of her fourth day out. Palamides takes Bragwaine to a convent, where she recuperates.
Sometime during this recuperation, the lovely Isoud finally notices that Bragwaine is missing, which prompts her to get all mopey and feel sorry for herself. After all, she’s in this strange Cornish land, eating game hens, not married to Tristram, and now her henchwoman is gone! So she hangs out at a well and moans about it. Palamides overhears her, and thinks to tell her what happened to Bragwaine and fetch the henchwoman, in exchange for a boon.
“You bet,” says the lovely Isoud.
Palamides goes to fetch Bragwaine, and discovers that she was planning on just staying quietly at the convent where nobody would tie her to a tree for the crime being Irish. Notwithstanding, half against her will, Malory tells us, Palamides brings her back to the lovely Isoud.
“So what’s the boon? Because if it’s something wicked…”
“No no no,” says Palamides. “Listen, really it’s your husband Mark who can grant me the boon. Let’s go to him, and you can tell him how he owes me a favor.”
“Oh, all right.”
CUT TO Mark’s throne room, where Palamides asserts that his need is a wholly just one. “If you be a righteous king that ye will judge me the right.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” says Mark.