Okay, then there’s something weird that happens. Remember Sir Palamides? The Saracen knight who wanted to marry the lovely Isoud? At this point Malory forgets how to spell his name, because suddenly he’s Sir Palomides. Same guy, though, that’s clear from context clues later on. Malory getting someone’s name wrong is not the weird part: this is an author who confused a baby (possibly enchanted) for a black shield with a white arm emblazoned on it. No, here’s the odd part.
A leopard! With a snake head. Also hooves. And buttocks like a lion, which I’m not sure what that’s supposed to represent. This peculiar beast appears suddenly, making a noise like thirty hounds, and then it’s gone again.
“The Questing Beast!” cries Sir Lamorak, as that is of course what it was.
“What?” Tristram has never heard of it.
“My father, King Pellinore, used to hunt it. And now that quest has fallen to me,” says Lamorak.
He might have said more, except that Sir Palomides storms into the clearing at that point, spear in hand. “Which way did it go? I hunt the Questing Beast!” he cries.
“What?” Tristram doesn’t get it.
“Hey, it’s my family’s magical quest-object,” protests Lamorak. “Get your own!”
Tristram may not understand what’s happening, but he knows how to stir the pot. “Let’s joust over it!”
“No,” Palomides says shortly. To brief this matter he smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak both with one spear, and so he departed. That’s right! Amazingly, Malory passes up a chance to describe a lengthy joust in loving detail! I’m as shocked as you are.
“That dude’s a jerk,” says Tristram.
“I agree,” says Lamorak.
Malory editorializes here, and observes that Sir Palomides isn’t really a jerk, he’s just focused on the Questing Beast, which Malory has decided has a name, Galtisant (good for you Malory the Questing Beast only showed up for the first time like eight Books ago).
Lamorak and Tristram remember that Sir Kehydius has been lying unconscious for a couple of chapters now, and haul him off to a hunting lodge to recuperate, which takes a few days. After a while, Lamorak gets bored of waiting for Kehydius to rouse from his coma, and decides to head out. Tristram tells him that if he ever sees Sir Palomides again, to let Palomides know that Tristram wants to joust him again.
“Whatever,” says Lamorak.
Lamorak rides off, and for whatever reason Malory decides to follow him for a while. This may be the Tale of Sir Tristram, but Malory doesn’t seem especially interested in Tristram himself, you know?
Lamorak comes to a chapel, where he meets Sir Meliagaunce, whom you probably don’t remember. Never fear, Malory has your back. He’s the son of Sir Bagdemagus, last seen recruiting Launcelot to act as a ringer in a tournament, back in Book VI. Meliagaunce sits around the chapel, moaning to himself about how much he loves Queen Guenever. Presumably he assumes Launcelot’s love of Guenever is what makes him the best knight ever, and so emulates that.
Anyway, Lamorak passes Meliagaunce by for now, and rides on through the woods, where he bumps into another couple of knights.
“Yo,” say the two knights.
“Is this a jousting situation?” Lamorak asks.
“Let’s skip it, if you don’t mind,” say the two knights. “We’re waiting here to attack a particular knight, who killed our brother.”
“Ah, good for you,” says Lamorak. “Which knight is this, that you’re hoping to meet?”
“Sir Launcelot!” says one of the two knights, and the other spits on the ground.
“Mmm,” says Sir Lamorak. “Good luck with that.”