THEN ALONG CAME MARCIE! She’s just the latest in a long line of damosels Malory doesn’t give real names to. He gives her a nickname. Several, actually. But Breunor gets a real name and a nickname both, so why be stingy? Listen, Marcie, she comes right in to Camelot, bold as brass, no waiting to be invited for her. Marcie comes in, a woman on a mission. She’s not armed, but she is armored. Specifically she has a shield.
Malory describes this shield lovingly: it’s big and black and emblazoned with an image of a white hand gripping a sword. It’s a stark presentation of negative space, Malory says. Not in those words.
Anyway. Marcie comes in and she says “Sire! King Arthur! I have arrived! I am come to your court!”
“Yeah, I see that,” says Arthur. There’s a pause. “You have a nice shield there.”
“I have borne this shield over many a bridge and across forests and down desolate country lanes, sire, here to Camelot! There once was a knight, whose shield this was!”
“Great questing and jousting did he undergo, to earn this shield!”
“He encountered a rival, and they fought!”
“As rivals do, sure,” says Arthur.
Marcie gestures wildly to the heavens. “A clash of titans! To a draw they fought, and then their separate ways they went!”
“Really there’s a point of diminishing returns with the portentous statements…”
“Alas, this virtuous knight died of his wounds! But not before compelling me to bear this shield to Camelot! And to find some great knight to undertake the quest!”
Arthur makes a wrap-up sign with his hands. “Can you sum it up for us?”
“Strange adventure, everybody!” Arthur raps his throne’s armrest, to get everyone’s attention. “We’ve got a strange adventure here, we need a volunteer, because I’m sure as hell not doing it!”
Sir Kay looks around, sees no one else going for it, so steps forward and picks up the shield.
“You! Sir knight!” cries Marcie. She points fiercely. “What is your name?”
“Uh, yeah. I’m Kay. Sir Kay, Seneschal, brother of Arthur, and professional caterer… you may have heard of me…?” Kay smiles. “I’m pretty well-known.”
“SIr Kay! Put down that shield!” Marcie slaps it out of his hands.
“This strange adventure demands a great knight! Not you!”
Kay is taken aback. “Okay, that, that seems kind of unfair… listen, I didn’t want to go on your stupid strange adventure anyway, I was just looking at your dumb shield…”
Marcie closes her eyes and stands still as a statue for, Malory says, a great while. She’s kind of an eccentric, you know that you guys? Most of the folks at Camelot are weirded out, but Breunor finds it charming.
“Fair damosel,” he says, “I will take the shield and that adventure upon me.”
Marcie opens her eyes, does the whole fierce-pointing thing again, and demands to know Breunor’s name.
“They call me Sir Ill-Fitting Suit,” he says proudly. “It started out as a derogatory nickname but I’m taking it back!”
“As this strange adventure ends, your very skin will be as perforated as your clothes, which badly need tailoring!” cries Marcie.
“Yeah, well, when that happens I’ll be sure not to go crying to you for medical treatment,” stammers Breunor.
But apparently that’s that, because Breunor gets some squires together and armor and spears and a couple of horses and he and Marcie mount up. As they’re turning to go, Arthur stops him.
“Listen, Breunor… I mean, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit… are you sure you want to go off with this woman? You may be getting in over your head, here. I suspect Marcie here isn’t playing with a full deck.”
“Never fear, sire! This is my first strange adventure and I promise to do you proud!”
“Come, foolish knight!” cries Marcie. “We ride anon, my dimwitted and badly-dressed champion!”